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.
Do you prefer working like that?
I do. I think that's why I prefer movies over TV. In TV, it's so long; you're doing the same thing for like years! Whereas in movies, you can finish one in about two months. It's like a photoshoot, where the photographer says 'we got it' but then keeps shooting – why? Once you've got the shot, anything you do after that isn't going to be magic. There's magic in doing something once, even if there's a flaw, that can make it better.
Where was it shot?
We shot in Los Angeles, in some locations I didn't even know existed in Malibu. I completely forgot I was even in LA.
The shop sort of reminded me of shops you see in LA that offer mystic healing and things like that.
Exactly! Like a crystal healing retreat or something. They transformed this liquor store into this beautiful psychic-looking shop. Our set decoration people did an amazing job.
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.
Also, don't pee on a jellyfish sting, that's a myth. It makes it worse.
Oh my god, it makes it worse! No!
The film plays on the idea of smells evoking vivid memories and dreams - is that something you can relate to?
Oh definitely. I think smell is the one sense that takes me to that nostalgic place. When you smell something that reminds you of your mum's perfume when you were a kid, or a lotion or something like that. My sister and I always play that game of 'what does this smell remind you of?'
In the film your character picks a rose, a lemon and some burnt wood as her notes. What would your notes be from your life and why?
I think I would also pick a piece of wood, or a match, because I'm a Sagittarius, which is a fire sign. I would probably pick something to do with my moon sign, my sun and my rising. So a match, a piece of wood and maybe like a goldfish for Aquarius. Or something from the ocean, like a seashell.
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.