If you don’t know who Kiersey Clemons is, you will pretty soon. She starred in the Rick Famuyiwa coming of age film Dope about Black nerds going through a series of adventures in the inner city of southern Los Angeles. She played the role of Diggy, the openly queer character who has an affinity for playing drums.
Clemons is also slated to star in one of the most anticipated films of the year Flashpoint, starring Ezra Miller as Barry Allen and Clemons will play his love interest and colleague Iris West. Currently, you can see Clemons in a theater near you in the 90s remake of the psychological thriller Flatliners. The film is about a group of medical students who experiment on near death experiences that involve past tragedies until the dark consequences begin to jeopardize their lives. The film was directed by Niels Arden Oplev and co-stars Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev and Kiefer Sutherland.
Kiersey chatted with BGN journalist Joelle Monique about her latest film, working with Ezra Miller and the role of women as superheroes.
BGN: Hey Kiersey, how you doing?
Kiersey Clemons: Hey. Good how are you?
BGN: Hi. I am great, thank you so much. I was able to catch the movie Flatliners last night and it was so much fun. I wanted to ask you, what drew you to Sophia?
Kiersey: I think I was really looking forward to having the opportunity to play a medical student, which isn’t one that comes along very often, nonetheless like a doctor. So that I was obviously looking forward to, and I think we have a lot in common in terms of growing up, feeling under pressure academically, impressing your parents with respect from society and such, you know?
BGN: Absolutely. So you wanted to play a doctor, do you have a favorite doctor TV show, are more ER or Grey’s Anatomy?
Kiersey: I used to watch ER a lot. I actually never really ever got into Grey’s Anatomy. Other than that, I probably saw a few episodes of House, but no, not really. I never really got into hospital shows or movies actually.
BGN: Is that something you’d want to explore in the future maybe? You do a great job as a doctor.
Kiersey: Oh well thank you. I could, yeah, I could be into that. I can imagine myself being some type of caregiver, a caretaker in another life, so I can imagine doing that for a role again.
BGN: I love it. Sophia’s got a lot of challenges in the movie. Mainly her very overbearing mother who literally moved cities to make sure that she does well in school. You said you had similar scenarios, can you elaborate?
Kiersey: Well, I think, growing up I did have a more of an older figure in my life who I was very focused on I think impressing with respect in school and in work and in the church and so I think I felt the pressure of that and it affects, it doesn’t just stay at school or work. It comes home with you and it affects all areas of your personal life kind of the way. For example with sex confused confidence in her own decision making and sexuality apparently. So yeah it’s cool to break those walls down.
BGN: Definitely, that was quite the scene, your sex scene, which is not necessarily graphic at all but just hilarious because your mother is literally right outside. How much fun was that for you to shoot?
Kiersey: I mean the thing is you can’t ever have too much fun when you’re filming something like that because you guys keep everybody in check and make sure people are being appropriate and respectful you know as a young actor on set obviously I was basically nude apart from two scenes. But yeah we kept it light and me and James were checking in with each other like do I look good right now? Do I look good right now? So yeah that was fun. It was good.
BGN: Well I don’t think there are a lot of challenges in shooting that scene but I know you guys are dealing with a lot of others, James dealing with when he gets stabbed in the hand and a bunch of other things. What was your most challenging scene to shoot?
Kiersey: The most challenging…I think probably the first scene actually where we flat lined Courtney. It’s a very low scene to shoot and so trying to every time before an action and actor cut get my anxiety levels in check that is exhausting, and I think Sophia was actually dealing with that anxiety a lot so these are the times that you’ve been on the verge of tears, you’re on that for like eleven hours it’s so exhausting. Have you ever been on the verge of tears for eleven hours?
BGN: I don’t know, I can only imagine. How do you recover from something like that?
BGN: Do you have a favorite brand?
Kiersey: No, I’m just kidding I don’t know, actually Tequila makes me tired. No, what I was drinking while we were drinking we would have pascal like after the day, we would all like sit around and have a drink and breathe.
BGN: That’s really cool, especially considering the final scene which I will not spoil here but you definitely got a sense of that kind of familial bond, which is incredibly nice and you’re surrounded by like amazing actors Diego Luna. What was it like working as a group? Like you guys did a lot of group scenes together.
Kiersey: Yeah I think we did a lot of our bonding and getting comfortable with each other obviously our personalities, but also physically we were kind of tossing each other around doing some drag moving at one point. We were kind of all over each other’s bodies all over the movie so we just got really cozy with each other and hung out a lot and we did medical training for like two weeks to keep incubator tubes in people’s mouths and you’re getting their spit on you and we definitely got comfortable with each other. None of us has ever gone to medical school so we were learning about a whole new chapter for everybody. None of us knew any of the jargon and all that stuff.
BGN: Who would make the best real-life doctor after all that training?
Kiersey: Who would make the best real-life doctor? I don’t know!
BGN: You could just cheat and say you.
Kiersey: I don’t know maybe Diego, he’s the best one in the movie, and he’d probably be the best one in real life. He’d be a great doctor, I wouldn’t be mad if Diego was my doctor.
BGN: I mean I bet he has a great bedside manner
Kiersey: Yeah, I’ll take it!
BGN: Flatliners is a kind of an atheist parable about not living your life with regrets. What do you think people will walk away with in this movie? Like what kind of messages do you hope they leave with?
Kiersey: I mean I don’t know I don’t necessarily walk away with any answers to anything. Or get the fact that your mind is made up about what happens after you die, but I think it provokes just more questions and perhaps probably to each of their own you know everyone has their own perspective of what it means to be alive and God and heavens and all of the beyond so I don’t know. I’m not mad at people leaving and kind of being on this high asking themselves all these questions. That’s dope.
BGN: My heaven is DC comic books and I can’t let you get away without asking you about playing Iris West in Flashpoint. First of all, since we are all super nerdy, all of our listeners. What does Iris West mean to you?
Kiersey: What does Iris West mean to me?
Kiersey Clemons: Well I think what I’m really excited about when it comes to playing Iris is I think at the beginning I was sort of eminent on not being in you know a DC or Marvel movie based on what I wanted to be the superhero and then I kind of took on Iris in hopes of getting an opportunity to make this amazing movie with Ezra but also showing a different perspective on what it means to be in this partnership and relationship with someone and I think that in the DC world they have more of a complex relationship. It’s going to be fun to play this, unite with him, and to sit down in the future when we get to really dig into it and paint more of a clear picture about who Iris is because as time goes by she’s getting older and the longer we wait the longer it takes to start shooting.
BGN: That’s fair. Have you read any of her stories? Is there maybe a storyline that you like the best?
Kiersey: Not particularly. We have been going back and forth, well when Rick was attached we chatted a bit with Ezra about the time going back and forth within The Flash story obviously and there so many stories that surround Iris and how old she is and where she is with her life and we haven’t pinned down one yet. I’ve sat and I’ve talked with Ezra about it and he’s kind of thrown around ideas of what we hope happens it would be fun if we could see a really big like wide range and different versions of these stories of her and Barry Allen’s life you know?
BGN: Absolutely I can’t wait to see you and Ezra up on the big screen. I think it’s just going to be fabulous. I’m going to speak to you more as a person now. Do you consider yourself nerdy at all?
Kiersey: I’m sure some would say.
BGN: In what ways?
Kiersey: I think that I like to ask a lot of questions and I think that nerdy people are just very curious people I consider myself really curious so that would probably put me in the category of being nerdy.
BGN: Were you that way as a kid because I found myself reading a lot of like magazine covers out loud because I like to read and asking not very politically correct questions in all the grocery stores giving my parents a lot of grief coming up like all that way as a kid.
Kiersey: Yeah that kid would definitely be considered a nerd.
BGN: You mentioned earlier you know you’re doing a superhero movie and you’re not playing a superhero but if you could play a superhero who would you like to play?
Kiersey: I don’t know I think there are so many superheroes that I don’t even know anything about yet. I will say I wish there were more female-driven superhero movies out.
BGN: Yeah that’s totally fair, that’s totally fair if I were you I’d start with Vixen because she’s a boss she’s like a high profile model but also she owns her own like clothing line and she has like a Totem that can give her the strength and power of animals, total boss.
Kiersey: Oh wow I could take that I could take the strength I don’t know maybe I want to play a villain. A villain would be really fun more so than a superhero.
BGN: You have such a sweet face I would love to see you play a villain. I love sweet-faced villains they are the best.
Kiersey: That’s the best part.
BGN: Do you have a favorite like evil Disney villain? Cause those are my favorite.
Kiersey: An evil Disney villain? Who is my favorite evil Disney villain? Probably well is she a villain? Well, Erso I guess.
BGN: Hell yes!
Kiersey: No, no I wasn’t asking If Erso was one. I was going to say is the mom in the what’s the movie? What’s the one with the long, What’s the name?
Kiersey: Is she, is her mom a villain? Would that be considered a villain?
BGN: I feel like she has realness qualities, you know she sings the evil song she’s putting out her light she keeping her locked in the woods so totally
Kiersey: That’s after Rapunzel right? What’s her name?
Kiersey: Yeah I would love that
BGN: That’s awesome well let’s make that happen in Disney!
Kiersey: Oh yeah I was in theater when I was younger when I was a kid in high school. Who would I want to play? I’d love to play one from the Hersent back in the 1800’s that would be a fun story to tell.
BGN: You would be a good Josephine Baker too. I feel that way.
Kiersey: I would love to be Josephine Baker. I’m so interested just in Josephine Baker’s life like to follow her up until she had like all her kids and everything that would be so fun.
BGN: Definitely and I guess we’ll make this our final question for the day. We have a lot of artists and aspiring creators who read blackgirlnerds.com any advice to them in just getting started on their journey?
Kiersey: I guess my advice would be to stay true to whatever life it is that you see fit for yourself and to attract yourself. Yeah.
BGN: That’s great advice thank you so much for your time Kiersey. We really appreciate it.
Kiersey: Thank you.
Interview by Joelle Monique
This interview was edited for clarity
Flatliners is currently screening in theaters. Justice League will be released in theaters nationwide November 17th. Flashpoint is scheduled for release in 2020.
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Jamie Broadnax is the creator of the online community for Black women called Black Girl Nerds. Jamie has appeared on MSNBC's The Melissa Harris-Perry Show and The Grio's Top 100. Her Twitter personality has been recognized by Shonda Rhimes as one of her favorites to follow. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association and executive producer of the Black Girl Nerds Podcast.