Career for Kiersey Clemons trending toward ‘Fairfax’

Rick's Reviews

Kiersey Clemons provides the voice for Derica (left) in the new animated series “Fairfax.” (Photo courtesy of Amazon Prime)

Kiersey Clemons shows up wearing a large black mustache for an interview to talk about her part in the new Amazon Prime Video original series “Fairfax.” The obvious question is to ask why but in this case, that’s not necessary. Her choice of facial hair reflects the outlandish, strange and unpredictable design of the new adult animated offering that launches Oct. 29.

“Fairfax” follows four middle school best friends on their never-ending quest for clout on the super trendy Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles. If it is current and trending, Fairfax is the place where it is happening. This series looks at the timeless struggle to be cooler than you are, to fit in while standing out and what it feels like to wait in line for a pair of sneakers you’re never going to get.

Kiersey Clemons voices Derica, an aspiring model-slash-activist who will save the planet but do it in style. The latest project for Derica and her two best friends – Benny (Peter S. Kim) and Truman (Jaboukie Young-White – is to help Dale (Skyler Gisondo), an outdoorsy transplant from Oregon who has no concept of the Fairfax lifestyle.

The first reaction by Clemons to whether she was cool or uncool in middle school is that she was neither. She pauses and then adds that maybe she was more uncool than she remembers.

“I was a floater. I had a friend in each kind of group,” Clemons says with a twirl of her mustache. “But I definitely felt like the stuff that I was into – vocal lessons and theater rehearsals after school – were not the coolest things.”

The cool level can be argued but the results have been very good for the Florida native. She has been acting for more than a decade in TV and film projects that have included “Shake It Up,” “Austin & Ally,” “Eye Candy,” “Transparent” and “Lady and the Tramp.” Her next big film role has her playing Iris West in “The Flash.”

Much of her early life was spent moving from town to town because she grew up in a military family. Eventually, she ended up in Southern California where her interest in theater and performing helped launch her career.

Clemons came up with several ways to deal with being the new kid in school.

“Sometimes, I would just keep to myself because I would be leaving soon so I didn’t even bother,” Clemons says. “Or, I would acclimate and take on a persona to survive wherever I was at the time.

“Sometimes that didn’t work and I still ended up being the outcast. I would have been better off just being myself.”

Clemons stresses that all of the moving and new schools were not the sparks for her interest in acting. She had a passion long before the first move.

“Fairfax” is not the first voice acting job for Clemons. She also has lent her vocal skills to projects such as “Scoob!” and “BoJack Horseman.” She finds nothing more exciting than being on a set in front of a camera but appreciates how voice work pushes her acting skills in a different way.

“There are people who can manipulate and morph their voices in ways that I can’t do,” Clemons says. “But, I like exercising having to rely on my voice because you can’t see my eyes and you can’t see my mannerisms.”

Clemons felt very comfortable providing the voice of Derica in “Fairfax” because she was able to put a lot of herself into the character. It was her understanding that she was being cast to play a tweaked version of herself.

She also noticed that with each episode, the writers picked made the character more and more like her. It should be noted that Derica does not wear a false mustache in the first episode of “Fairfax.”

One big difference between Clemons and Derica is in the role social media plays in their lives. Derica and her friends are deeply connected to the Internet for everything from communication to keeping tabs on trends.

“I don’t let it hold much weight,” Clemons says. “I think people are very overwhelmed by social media or they ban it. For me, it exists and I am never going to take over my life.

“I don’t let it define me in any way. I share what I want to share. It’s a part of the world we live in and I enjoy being part of the world.”

Her world right now is the quirky new animated series. All eight episodes in the first season of the adult comedy will be available Oct. 29.

Others lending their voices to “Fairfax” in the first season include Billy Porter, Zoey Deutch, Camila Mendes, Rob Delaney, Yvette Nicole Brown, Ben Schwartz, JB Smoove, John Leguizamo and Colton Dunn.

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