We spoke to the breakout star about her acting ambitions, being fulfilled in her role as Iris West in DC’s The Flash, and feeling at peace in Nothing Hill.

SUIT Ottolinger, COAT – Baaia, SHOES – Kalda

SUIT Ottolinger, COAT – Baaia, SHOES – Kalda

Those familiar with DC’s The Flash will be aware that Warner Bros.’ re-imagination of the famed comic has been in the works for quite some time now, so when I ask Kiersey Clemons how she felt about her role as the project’s Iris West — an ambitious journalist and main love interest in the film — she replies that she was filled with as much anticipation as the comic’s fans. “I wanted it to happen already, but [this] happens with movies all the time.” From a switching of directors to a post-pandemic adjustment period, it becomes apparent that Clemons’ patience was undeniably fuelled by her love for the craft, and indeed the movie. When I asked if it had been difficult to transition to such a large and seemingly chaotic project, she simply replies, “There is a dream for most actors: to work a lot and to be switching genres.”

Clearly, an upheaval of any sort doesn’t phase Clemons. Following her work on films such as Antebellum and Dope, the actor was more than ready for the creative challenge The Flash would pose. The big franchise and grand sets would be daunting to many, but playing Iris West proved to be a wholesome endeavour as Clemons managed to map out the parallels between herself and her character. West’s natural curiosity, her zeal for research and writing — all qualities that the actor channelled from within. “We also look a lot alike,” she jokes.

When revisiting her previous films, the all-too-important topic of minority representation in Hollywood arose. Being part of a generation of Black women rising through Hollywood’s ranks, she shares her thoughts on the importance of mentors. In 2020, Clemons made it her intention to work with filmmakers that she could truly identify with and soon came Sophie Kargman with the film Susie Searches and Tayarisha Poe with The Young Wife. When joining the cast of the latter, which features the likes of Leon Bridges, Clemons opened up that the brilliant Sheryl Lee Ralph became a natural confidant and mentor, giving her invaluable advice and support: “Be like royalty”.

(LEFT) PUFFER Entire Studios, TOP 404 Studio, LEGGINGS – Ottolinger, SHOES – Diesel (RIGHT) FULL LOOK Miu Miu, BOOTS Ottolinger

PUFFER Entire Studios, TOP 404 Studio, LEGGINGS – Ottolinger, SHOES – Diesel FULL LOOK Miu Miu, BOOTS Ottolinger

As a Black women navigating this tumultuous industry, she explains that she and her peers often found themselves bonding over their shared experiences. “The way in which Black women are trying to make it through our industry is different from other people’s experiences. In the trajectory of a Black woman’s career, there’s no path that makes any type of sense.”

However, a comforting note from Clemons confirms that, when your colleagues feel like family, it’s much easier to love what you’re doing. This particular sentiment is what drew her to her latest adventure: a turn in the Godzilla monster-verse.

Granted, her career is progressing at an unparalleled pace, but I was also keen to know Clemons outside of filming. So, naturally, I asked her about a certain Instagram photo of a pigeon on her feed that I deduced could only be an inhabitant of the British capital. She is quick to confirm my ponderings. Whilst filming for The Flash, she stayed in Notting Hill for six months where she described feeling “at peace, productive and balanced.” Evenings spent walking up to Hyde Park, writing and recording music, reading, making friends with the barista at her local coffee spot and learning to play the ukulele were just some of her day-to-day activities. She even survived being knocked out by the flu when all her friends were out of town, so I’d say she’s definitely in the running for the honorary Londoner badge.

Kiersey Clemons is impressive, to say the least. Her endearing charisma and dedication to her craft manifests in every role that comes her way, and I, like many others, cannot wait to see what such a grounded and exuberant person has to offer the world of cinema.

FULL LOOK Ottolinger

FULL LOOK Ottolinger
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