Rapid Round: 'Neighbors 2' Kiersey Clemons on Millennial Misconceptions (Q&A)

Kiersey Clemons - Getty - H 2016
Getty Images

Kiersey Clemons - Getty - H 2016

"We've been told we can only play one thing. But it’s everyone's responsibility to be something that no one else has seen."

Kiersey Clemons' breakout performance came as a a punk-loving lesbian tomboy in the Sundance standout Dope, a role which she followed with guest spots on New Girl and Transparent.

A year and a half after Dope and Clemons finds herself in the big studio comedy Neighbors 2.

In Seth Rogen's follow-up to 2014's massively popular Neighbors, she plays as a coed that starts a party-positive sorority with her third-wave peers, played by Chloe Grace Moretz and Beanie Feldstein.

The 22-year-old actress sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to talk about diversity in comedy, the Greek system, her musical aspirations and Carrie Bradshaw.

You’re a minority actress in a studio comedy, and they’re not often diverse. Will we see that change soon?

It is not only up to [the] studios to open their minds, to see that what's relatable is different now; it is also up to our actresses to be as versatile as possible and never put themselves in a box. We have all felt the pressure of trying to fit into a box, because we've been told we can only play one thing. But it’s everyone's responsibility to be something that no one else has seen.

You’re also a millennial. What's the biggest misconception about them?

That our whole lives are based on social media and that we are attached to our phones. Millennials are all very hungry for tapping into our consciousness. Young people are striving to meditate and do yoga and are getting into crystals, which is shit young people haven't done since the '70s. That is a big misconception — like we don't have a desire to know who we are.

What's most inaccurate in Hollywood’s portrayal of young females?

That we don't masturbate. That we don't talk about dicks. That we don't have one inverted nipple. There's this weird portrayal — that we are these little prim and proper beings — and it's kind of gross. It's so cool for guys to be human.

I feel like I f—ed up the other day because Zac [Efron] and Seth were doing press in jeans and a T-shirt, and I was there in heels and a dress, and I felt makeup was mandatory, [that] for press, I should be getting ready, [just] like how I would get ready to go out with my friends for dinner. But I shouldn't be wearing makeup because I think that's what I have to do. I want to start fighting this idea that we have to look perfect all the time. Blood comes out of my vagina just like every other woman's.

Before filming, did you have any experience with the Greek system?

I went to a frat party when I was in high school. You know in high school, when you go and visit colleges to figure out what college you want to go to? Well, I figured out very quickly that I did not want to go to college, but I remember seeing sorority girls and thinking, "Oh, my God! I want to be in a sorority, it sounds so cute." And then I found out people get hazed and shit, and I'm not down for that.

What most surprised you about the Greek system, while making Neighbors 2?

I had no idea that sororities couldn't throw parties. It was such a surprise to everyone, because it is such a silly rule that has no logical foundation to it. All it is is, "Boys can do this and girls can't," and that really pisses me off. To me, it said a lot about the whole system.

Is there a role that you’d love to play if you could remake a movie or TV show?

I want to be Carrie Bradshaw. I want to give a much cooler answer like, “I want to be Rose in Titanic,” but I honestly just want to be Carrie Bradshaw. But no one can do it like Sarah Jessica Parker.

Whose career do you really admire?

Careers I admire are all about balance. This may sound weird, but Idris Elba has a career I love because he is an amazing actor but also does this insane music. Zoe Kravitz does that, too: she is really good at balancing amazing films and music.

So you want to do music?

Yes, but I want to enter it in a way that is respected. I don't want to just make radio hits. I would love to play at small venues and be involved with the music in my films.

What are you listening to right now?

I’ve been listening to a lot of funk for inspiration. I have this Spotify playlist called “Funk Out of Here.” I've been listening to The O'Jays; Earth, Wind and Fire; Rick James and James Brown; and a lot of Prince. When Prince died, that is the first time I cried when a public figure had passed.

Do you have any directors you really want to work with?

With directors it's hard, because they'll make one movie you love and the next one you don't. I guess the person that really has a record I admire is Quentin Tarantino. He has had a long streak of good films.

Do you have a favorite?

Django [Unchained]. I am not going to say Pulp Fiction, because it's like, "Duh."

Is there a summer movie you’re excited to see?

I'm not very excited for any superhero movies. It's been done so much. I can't even get excited when I get a superhero script; when I do get one it’s like, "Ah, shit!" I know that sounds like a shitty thing to say, because there are actors who would die over the opportunity, but it doesn't feel like they are telling a story anymore.