Actor and singer Kiersey Clemons plays Diggy in the the critically-acclaimed film Dope (2015) and Bianca in the Emmy-award winning series Transparent. Born in Florida, at age 12 Clemons moved to Los Angeles where she got her start as an actress for Disney. As a singer, she was featured on Transparent and collaborated with Pharrell Williams on the soundtrack for Dope. Clemons will star in the upcoming Neighbors 2 and Little Bitches.
Born in Palo Alto, CA, James Franco is an award-winning actor, writer and filmmaker known for his roles in Judd Apatow’s cult classic Freaks and Geeks (1999), Pineapple Express (2008), the Oscar-winning Milk (2008) and Spring Breakers (2012). Franco was nominated an Academy Award for Best Actor for 127 Hours (2010). He currently stars in the Hulu mini-series 11.22.63 and is working on his next directorial project.
Written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa (The Wood, Talk To Me), Dope premiered at Sundance 2015, garnering the Dramatic Editing Award and a nomination for the Grand Jury Prize. The film stars Shameik Moore as a high-school senior who becomes entangled with a dangerous drug dealer and also features A$AP Rocky, Zoe Kravitz, Tony Revolori (Grand Budapest Hotel) and Kiersey Clemons.
A comedy series created by Jill Soloway for Amazon, Transparent (2014-15) centers on a contemporary Los Angeles family with three adult children whose father comes out as transgender in his 60s. Starring Jeffrey Tambor, Judith Light, Amy Landecker, Gaby Hoffmann and Jay Duplass, Transparent has won two Golden Globes, including Best Television Series, as well as five Emmys.
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (2016) is the sequel to actor and filmmaker Seth Rogen’s 2014 comedy Neighbors. Directed by Nicholas Stoller, the film stars Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Chloë Grace Moretz, Selena Gomez and Dave Franco.
JULES AND JIM
A critically-acclaimed 1962 French film by Françcois Truffaut, Jules and Jim stars Jeanne Moreau as the center of a tragic, decades-long love triangle involving two best friends: bohemian Jim (Henri Serre) and shy Austrian Jules (Oskar Werner). Based on the book by Henri-Pierre Roché, Jules and Jim is set around World War I.
A comedy directed by Nick Kreiss, Little Bitches (2016) follows a group of high school friends who vow to open their college acceptance letters at a year-end party. The film stars Kiersey Clemons, Virginia Gardner and Jennette McCurdy.
Last year, I was stuck at Sundance for a week and saw about 35 films. One late night, I was in the back of the hotel theater for Dope. Of the high school trio at the center of the film, I was particularly taken by the portrayal of the butch girl who hung with the guys and spit out the same level of game as they did. It was my first time seeing Kiersey Clemons. She was cute, tough, quirky and funny. Later, I saw her in both seasons of Transparent as a member of the band managed by the brother character (Jay Duplass). She was completely different—still cute, but now elusive and charming. Finally, she was cast in Neighbors 2, and the Seth Rogen gang showed me her work in an outright comedy. She could do it all.
I couldn’t think of anyone I wanted to work with more than Kiersey for my upcoming film about young 1980s filmmakers caught in a Jules and Jim-type love triangle. She is an up-and-coming actress with wit, style and beauty who needs to be watched.
James Franco: Have you shot Little Bitches yet?
Kiersey Clemons: Yes, I finished it right before Christmas. I’m very, very excited. It follows me and my friends throughout our last year at school. We have this plan to open our college acceptance letters together. But the whole premise is more subtle—if you don’t know the world of teenage girls well, you come to learn that everything is life or death. Everything is very, very serious no matter how miniscule or big, whether it’s getting accepted into college or not having a tampon. I’m really excited about it because I’m still that way. I’m not even in high school anymore! When does that feeling go away? I’m not sure. [laughs]
JF: That’s one of the reasons I wrote a book about high school students. I love that everything feels really big or really boring. Your life sucks or everything is lightning.
KC: It’s really weird. Teachers and parents make tests, SATs and school such a big deal and then try to downplay things that really matter like your emotions, mood swings or stress levels—your day-to-day mental stability. In Little Bitches, you get perspectives of everyone in the household, but for the most part it’s not focused on the exams or stress of school because that’s really only five percent of it. When you go home in high school, you’re not thinking about that. You’re thinking about boys or girls—stuff that makes you cry. So it’s very realistic.
JF: So tell me a little bit about your high school experience. I assume it was a little unconventional because you were already working, right?
KC: I started working when I was 16 or 17. I went to high school for my freshman and sophomore years and half of my junior year, then I left and started homeschooling when everyone was looking at colleges. I don’t feel like I missed out on much. My sister is 17, and she just got her GED. I said, “You know what? Go for it.” Because you don’t miss out on anything! All my friends who were homeschooled had better experiences. They were traveling and learning from real life. A lot of people talked shit when I left, but I wasn’t there, so it didn’t really affect me.
“I had pretty normal teenage years.
For a long time, I worked at Abercrombie Kids
at the mall in Redondo Beach.
I worked there even after I was acting.”
— Kiersey Clemons
JF: So you went to public high school?
KC: Yes, I had pretty normal teenage years. For a long time, I worked at Abercrombie Kids at the mall in Redondo Beach. I worked there even after I was acting, and it was stupid because I was working at a kids’ store the same time that I was on Disney Channel. Children would ask me for pictures while I was folding clothes.
JF: Why did you still work there when you were on the Disney Channel?
KC: Because I still have the anxiety that you never know until you get in the rhythm and have a career. I was being told by everybody, especially my mom, “You just don’t know when your next job is going to be. You don’t know!” So I was playing it safe. It was my little thing that made me feel like I was doing something everyday when I didn’t have auditions and wasn’t on set. I wasn’t in school, so I would just go to the mall and work and hang out with my friends.
JF: So from that point, what happened first?
KC: Transparent happened first. I booked Season 1 of Transparent, saved all my mall money and moved out for the first time. Then I rolled into filming Dope.