For a second, crouching in a plaid swimsuit in entrance of an immaculate dwelling within the Los Angeles suburb of Ladera Heights, Kiersey Clemons seems like Contemporary Princess Hilary Banks—if Hilary Banks mentioned “Screw it” and shaved off all her hair. Born to a army household in Pensacola, Florida, the 24-year-old actress is as compelling in entrance of the digicam as she is on-line. When an Instagram follower just lately requested why she doesn’t shave her armpits, she clapped again, “Identical cause you in my feedback and never centered in your life. Simply lazy, you are feeling me?”
It’s tempting to peg Clemons with the rebellious streak that defines lots of the characters she’s performed: queer tomboy Diggy in Dope, candy however wayward Bianca in Amazon’s Clear, pupil turned rocker Sam on this month’s Hearts Beat Loud. However Clemons has by no means recognized as a troublemaker. “I used to be a fairly good child, however I additionally knew when it was price breaking the foundations,” she says. “I don’t assume that makes you a insurgent, although, as a result of that’s nonetheless exercising some kind of warning.”
Even her hair, a delicate buzz she’s worn since final October, wasn’t supposed to be a press release. “I received clippers, after which I went to my mother’s home, and my cousin and my sister minimize it off—first with scissors, after which they only went for it and shaved it off,” she says. “I genuinely assume that I look higher with no hair, and I really feel sexier.” Clemons’ strategy to the present sociopolitical local weather is equally adaptive. “I just lately needed to have a protracted speak with myself and be like, The place do you are feeling the best?” she says. “I discover that I’m rather more of a healer than I’m anything. And after we’re preventing like we’re, we’d like healers.”
Her type of therapeutic? Actively carving out roles that symbolize the black expertise. “Hollywood makes stuff that individuals take in, and it lingers in your unconscious,” she says. “I’m good at performing, which used to really feel type of small, like, Fuck, that’s all I’m good at? After which I noticed, No, it means one thing to be good at taking over feelings and affecting individuals. As an alternative of calling that my weak spot and feeling prefer it’s not sufficient, I attempt to faucet into that much more.”
And her subsequent undertaking, Sweetheart, a survival thriller a few “queer brown lady caught on an island,” would require her to go even deeper. “I don’t have a supporting forged to make me look higher. It’s simply me,” she says. However she sees that as progress, not strain: “I don’t assume that might have occurred even 5 years in the past. They wouldn’t have trusted me to hold that, if we’re being fully sincere. She could be white.”
Clemons was drawn to the undertaking for a similar causes she’s nonetheless obsessive about Solange’s A Seat on the Desk and Kendrick Lamar’s Rattling: “We had been so thirsty for these albums. And I wish to hear and see extra stuff like that,” she says. “We’re now speaking about race overtly and shutting these gaps. Nicely, we’re transferring within the course of closing these gaps.”
As for that bad-girl picture, once I ask Clemons to call renegade girls who encourage her, she mentions singer Eartha Kitt, who was blacklisted by the music business after expressing antiwar sentiments some 50 years in the past. “She sacrificed her area in artwork to make some extent that wanted to be made,” she says. “That’s riot to me. I don’t know if I’ve carried out sufficient to earn that title but.” Angelina Jolie additionally makes the record. “She has rebelled in opposition to all the things we mentioned that she was, which was restricted to being the recent warrior chick,” she says. “She’s doing her half to avoid wasting the world and lift these lovely kids and inform tales on their behalf. That’s very rebellious to Hollywood, I feel.”
Her technology, Clemons believes, is primed to make its personal mark. “I’m surrounded by so many good, well-spoken younger girls, which is as intimidating as it’s inspiring,” she says. It additionally places her personal goal in sharper reduction: “Nina Simone mentioned, ‘An artist’s responsibility is to replicate the instances.’” Problem accepted.
Learn on for extra outtakes from Grown-ish author Kara Brown's interview with Clemons:
GLAMOUR: Within the context of Hollywood, do you are feeling rebellious?
KIERSEY CLEMONS: No. I don't assume I'm rebellious. I feel we're sticking it to the person [in terms of] bullshit that we're not going to tolerate any longer. However, if I'm being sincere, I feel I'm much more modest than individuals would assume that I’m.
GLAMOUR: Is there a gaggle that you just hope to be chatting with by way of your work?
KC: I carry the duty of chatting with whoever is like me. I'm not a lot of a stay-in-your-lane kind of individual, however I feel, proper now, we're all anticipating everybody to be the identical. To battle the battle in the identical means. So some individuals, they're very energetic on social media. And that platform encourages individuals which are energetic in actual life to exit and make the calls and go to the conferences. After which there's an individual like me, the place I really feel like I'm best one-on-one. I'm best in a dialog with somebody, or taking over a job and doing that. I don't discover that I'm an amazing public speaker. I used to be once I was youthful. And I feel that, as I've gotten older and been within the business a bit extra, I realized there's so many various kinds of individuals. And I really don't know easy methods to speak to all of them appropriately. I'm higher at emotionally affecting individuals.
GLAMOUR: What are the problems proper now that you just really feel communicate to you essentially the most?
KC: Every little thing. I feel, proper now, understanding and holding on to empathy as we battle the battle. We're all indignant. However we shouldn't lose our willingness to speak to individuals which are totally different than us. As a result of that's the place the change occurs. While you speak to somebody that's totally different than you, you give them a brand new perspective. And so they could not apply it instantly, however they may apply it once they work together with a member of the family that's totally different than them, or a buddy that's totally different.
GLAMOUR: What's been some artwork that has spoken to you in a extremely visceral means within the final 12 months?
KC: Name Me by Your Identify was such an amazing film. And Get Out, clearly, simply crossing that line with style concerning race. And diminishing what race even is, which is absolutely thrilling. America places a lot extra weight on race than different international locations do, I've realized.