meet kiersey clemons: the star of jellywolf

Los Angeles-based singer and actress Kiersey Clemons has kicked off her 2017 with a star turn opposite actual legend Lisa Bonet in award-winning Israeli-American director Alma Har'el's JellyWolf, a visually stunning short film about the hallucinatory power of smell created specifically for The Fifth Sense.

23-year-old actress/singer Kiersey Clemons is the future. The breakout star of 2015's Sundance-slaying Dope, her steady ascendency was assisted by recurring roles in the critically-lauded Transparent and alongside Halle Berry in science fiction drama, Extant. This year, however, she's going properly interstellar, with key roles in two DC Comics blockbusters, Justice League, The Flash and director Alma Har’els Jellywolf. Oh and she's also got an EP out this year too.

What attracted you to this particular project?

I really believed in Alma's visuals and I think for something like this the visual stimulation is so important. It's what makes the whole thing intriguing and you get the entire message of the short not through dialogue, but through visuals. You could put it on mute and still understand what's happening.

Were you already familiar with Alma's work before you started filming?

No actually I wasn't, but we had a lot of mutual friends and really hit it off. I think we're all going to collaborate again in the future because we all fell in love with each other.

What was the experience like overall?

It was empowering. To be able to work with Alma and watch a woman direct and take direction from a woman, which is something I haven't experienced before, was really inspiring. Also working with Lisa Bonet who has the calmest, most amazing spirit felt very feminine. It was very sexy and feminine everyday. I really enjoyed it.

How long did it take to do?

We shot for about two days and we were moving really quickly. When Alma gets the shot she's on to the next one; she doesn't like to waste any time.

I think smell is the one sense that takes me to that nostalgic place, like when you smell something that reminds you of your mum's perfume when you were a kid

I really wanted some of the neon signs.

I know! I should have stolen one really.

I was going to say that the first section is quite rooted in the real world but then a jellyfish falls out of the sky, which just doesn't happen that often.

No, not at all. Really trippy.

Have you ever had any interaction with jellyfish?

I'm pretty aware of them. I grew up in Florida, near a beach, so I knew which waters had jellyfish in them. I've seen people get stung and that's not a pretty sight at all. I've never been stung by a bee or a jellyfish, and I plan on keeping it that way.

I've got two jellyfish facts for you. Did you know that jellyfish can still smell via their nervous system? So they have no brain and no heart, but can still smell prey etc.

They're like witches, they're so weird! Jellyfish are so mystical. I don't trust that, it's so fucking weird.

I always adapt to a new environment and part of that is matching my scent to where I am

Lisa Bonet's character wears a t-shirt with the slogan ‘Women Smell Better’. Do you think that's true?

Yeah! I'm actually wearing that t-shirt right now. I love it, I had to have one. It's ironic though because my armpits smell awful right now - I have not put on deodorant this morning. I don't know if it's always true – I like the way a sweaty man smells sometimes, depending on who the man is.

Do you think women are more in tune with their senses in general?

Yes, definitely. Especially when a woman is pregnant and her senses are heightened. I don't think a man has any natural experiences they can go through that does something like that.

Can you use smells in your acting? Like do you ever put on a scent to feel happier? Or sniff something to make your cry?

I change my perfume every time I film, which isn't something I necessarily do on purpose. I always adapt to a new environment and part of that is matching my scent to where I am. Also it takes me out of myself when I don't necessarily smell like me.

Are you prepared for your career to go interstellar after Justice League and The Flash? Are you ready for that?

I think I am. The last two years were a bit shocking and overwhelming because I wasn't prepared for everything else that goes with it. I wasn't prepared to run a business, for example, but I've gotten the hang of things now. I'm really excited about this year and what's to come.

Are you ever going back to Transparent?

I don't know. I would love to go back. I think with TV scheduling it's difficult to be able to set aside that amount of time. We were in the band and then when Josh's life fell apart the band fell apart. Plus I played Melora Hardin's character's daughter, and she's not part of the family anymore.

So is music something you want to explore as well?

Definitely. I'm putting out an EP in the Spring, probably around Spring break. The songs have the tone of a bonfire during Spring break, like kind of chilled but still sexy. I'm really fucking excited because I've never put out music before and I've always been waiting to find my sound. I'm really nervous but I can't wait. It's going to be awesome.

This Week

a brave new space

Using time travel and afrofuturism, Rasheedah Phillips and Camae Ayewa are creating a community space for women to be empowered using art and music.

Read More

meet reykjavikurdaetur: iceland's female fronted rap powerhouse

Lock up your beats, Reykjavikurdaetur are coming!

Read More

northern exposure

Everyone with fully functioning ears knows that all the good music can be found in Scandinavia. While it's typically always been Sweden the world has turned to for interesting new pop music, or melodic indie bands, or oddball dance bangers, that spotlight has started to shift a little further north over to Norway.

Read More

five senses from my world: sarah hardie, artist

Five senses from London-based artist Sarah Hardie's world. 

Read More

how to write a smell

Smells are evocative; they have the power to change our moods, take us back to a specific place in our lives, or remind us of long-forgotten memories. We asked five writers to walk us through the creative process of describing the intangible: fragrance.

Read More

unruly body – the world of jamila johnson-small

In her own words, Jamila Johnson-Small is interested in dance as a “radical social proposition”. She means this quite literally. And in fact, this quality of “radicality” – a potent combination of power and resoluteness – is palpable in Jamila’s presence, both onstage and in person.

Read More

sound of the underground – meet the female pioneers of beirut’s growing nightlife scene

In what was once a male-dominated world, women are invading the city’s dance music scene in radical ways.

Read More

scent: a poem by yrsa daley-ward

Writer and actress Yrsa Daley-Ward chanced upon a spoken word poetry night in South Africa and turned her world around.

Read More

the language of smell

The human sense of smell is perhaps our most powerful. Research has shown that we can distinguish between a trillion different odours, and maybe many more. Yet our languages tend to have only a limited palette of words with which to describe what we smell.

Read More