Lola Kirke on cultivating her own voice in the world

1~72.jpg 2~32.jpg 1~73.jpg 2~33.jpg

Lola Kirke is many things – musician, actor, producer, activist, and one of our NO.16 cover stars out in May. Kirke grew up in a household full of creatives (you may recognize her sister Jemima on HBO’s hit series Girls, or her father Simon Kirke, former drummer of Bad Company), and through that experience, she cultivated her own voice.

And now, she’s using it to better the entertainment industry in a plethora of projects. Mozart In The Jungle the long-running series in which she stars, has been received with critical acclaim, her forthcoming thriller Gemini, which stars Kirke and Zoe Kravitz, is one of the most anticipated films of the year. Kirke’s most recent project Active Adults, a love story of sorts that parallels her character Lily and her partner Malcolm’s lives to those of his grandparents’. The film tracks the couples, who are each grappling with similar questions about love, life, and identity.

As a woman in Trump’s America, an actress in Hollywood who is ready for the time to be up, and a vocal political ingenue Kirke thinks we can all be doing more.

How do you think the struggles of Malcolm and Lily’s generation differ from that of their grandparents’? How are they similar?
I think we live in a time and a society where people get to grow up a lot later. 30 is the new 20 and even that is still a young age to get married or have babies. There’s so much freedom and choice now but that can actually be a bit paralyzing.

Why do you think it’s so hard for young people to “make it” in New York (or any city)?
It seems like there’s an inflation of art and industry nowadays. On the one hand, it’s easier than ever to make your own content but on the other, there’s so much content that it can be hard to break through. Also, I feel like people typically “make it” in hyperspace on the internet instead of in actual spaces like New York City.

What does success, or “making it”, mean to you?
Success to me means being seen and heard and making other people feel that way too.

In the film, Lily feels pressure to return to the city and pursue lofty achievements, while Malcolm is content to remain in his grandfather’s community. Do you think this pressure is something most post-grads feel?
I think capitalistic culture breeds this idea that we aren’t good enough until we achieve something of great merit. So yes, I imagine a lot of young people feel a sense of urgency to prove themselves in the world. I certainly did. But I’ve always been like that. So maybe it’s not capitalism, maybe it’s just a kind of spirit.

What surprised you most about making this film?
What surprised me about making this film was essential that we could make it! It’s the only feature film I’ve ever produced so that was a real feat.

What’s the most important thing we can learn from the generations before us?
My grandpa once told me I didn’t have to take everything so seriously. I liked that.

Are there any women in the industry that you look up to who are at the forefront of this kind of change?
I love Lady Bird, I think that’s fucking great. There are lots of beautiful women filmmakers. I love the movie Mustang by Deniz Gamze Ergüven. I just want women to make whatever kind of films they want to make. And I think we need to make different kinds of films. I don’t see that many movies that are pushing cinema forward. I see a lot of movies that are keeping it exactly where it is. I think we need new voices.

It’s a pretty strange time in the industry. What’s been your biggest challenge?
I see how much being a woman does provide a problem in this industry. I mean, I think it does in all of the industries. I think it’s still very hard for women to get their films made.

There’s this quote by Susan Howe quote that says something to the effect of: “Why would I seek to align myself with the very systems of power that have shut me down?”
I’m all for equal pay, but I think that there’s a way in which we need to expand our idea of what it means to be a powerful woman, rather than it just meaning being an executive at a film company. I would like to see the industry change more than it’s pretending to right now.

Look out for the full interview in our MAY print issue, NO.16 “VOICES”.


Aaron Katz’s ‘Gemini’ perfectly captures contemporary L.A. noir

A moody noir pop-up, “Gemini” is writer/director Aaron Katz’s alluring, self-reflexive Los Angeles-set mystery that also doubles as a pictorial mash note to the city’s gleaming spaces and dreaming inhabitants.

At the crux of its titular duality is a showbiz relationship of commonality and convenience between young starlet Heather (Zoë Kravitz), pursued by social media followers and professional/romantic suitors in various stages of neediness, and her assistant Jill (Lola Kirke), whose duties include handler, companion and sleepover confidante. When the pair’s work/play night of angering a flustered director (Nelson Franklin) and drunken karaoke with Heather’s secret squeeze (Greta Lee) ends with the morning discovery of a bullet-riddled body, Jill becomes a prime suspect in the eyes of a patient, dogged detective (John Cho).

While Jill’s mission to uncover the truth leans into tense turns, oddball twists and scenic moods, Katz (“Cold Weather,” “Land Ho!”) enriches the well-established glossary of Southern California noir with a richly textured palette (courtesy cinematographer Andrew Reed) of colors and tones beyond the typical signposts of slick affluence, abetted nicely by Keegan DeWitt’s atmospheric soundtrack of trance-like beats and nostalgic snatches of mournful horns.

You sense the messier aesthetics of Katz’s mumblecore origins have fallen away to reveal a born alchemist of story and imagery — in its arresting visual tour of L.A.’s groovy neighborhoods and rich hideaways, “Gemini” captures a secret, abiding and even menacing melancholy behind its oft-regarded surfaces.

And with his soulful, close-up-ready female leads, Katz finds performance power, too. Kravitz nails the peculiar precocity of an internet-age idol, while Kirke quickly earns our sympathy as a brunette indie heroine turned blond-dyed — and eventually leather-clad and motorbike-riding — amateur sleuth. “Gemini” may be the ideal Instagram-era genre flick: an identity thriller about advantage and escape that swipes left and right with cool, calculated authority.


Lynn Hirschberg Celebrates W Magazine’s It Girls


Happy Birthday Lola!

Today Lola turns 27! We want to wish her the best of birthdays! We wish happiness, health and love!

Happy Birthday!

Awkward and ascending: Actor Lola Kirke talks to Pip Usher about auditions, America and her next act.


I often play the subtle, intelligent, awkward babe,” says Lola Kirke, slouching in a chair at the home that she shares with her boyfriend in East LA. Run through her current roll call of film credits and you’ll realize she’s not far off. First, there was Lola’s breakout lead role in Mistress America as Tracy Fishco, a beret-wearing college freshman. Then there is AWOL, a lesbian love story set in a small Pennsylvania town. With her flat, husky voice and melancholy gaze, the 26-year-old actor seems tailor-made to portray the angst-ridden experiences of growing up, falling in love and trying to figure out one’s identity in a world that’s not always receptive. “I want to play all kinds of people,” says Lola. “But maybe that’s what I have to contribute to the world right now.

Alongside her aptitude for awkwardness is a worldliness at odds with the naïveté of her on-screen characters. Lola’s family left southwest London when she was five years old and moved to New York City. Her father, Simon, was the drummer for rock band Bad Company while her mother, Lorraine, owned a much-adored vintage clothing boutique in Manhattan’s West Village. Eldest sister Domino is a musician and doula recently married to Gossip Girl star Penn Badgley, while middle child Jemima is a painter and actor most famous for playing wild child Jessa in Girls. Cousins in London include Charlotte Olympia, the fashion designer, and Alice Dellal, the model. The family’s bohemian credentials are supported by substantial wealth: Lola’s maternal grandfather was property tycoon Jack Dellal.

Growing up in a “dramatic and chaotic” household, Lola says much of the mayhem revolved around her older sisters as they battled through their teenage years. (Jemima has spoken candidly about her destructive relationship with drugs and alcohol.) “My ‘perfection’ or ‘goodness’ was a reaction to [my sisters’] trouble. I couldn’t have existed without it,” she shrugs. “But I’m grateful that I got to watch them go through the things that they went through. It helped me make choices with my life.

Decades later, the implications of Lola’s status as the youngest sibling came up while working with a voice teacher to fix her lisp. “She said, ‘Did you have to be charming and disarming as a kid?’” Lola remembers, joking that the teacher must have been a psychic medium to get into her head like that. “She told me to say the word ‘sister.’ Under the guise of making me practice words with ‘s’ in them, she struck at the root of why my lisp existed in the first place.”

Although Lola had pursued acting since childhood—“I would go to one audition a year when I was younger and delusionally think that would lead to immediate success”—it wasn’t until she graduated from private liberal arts enclave Bard College that acting amped up into a full-time career. She had had a “psychic understanding” that she would work with American filmmaker Noah Baumbach when she first met him, at age 14, at an audition for his film Margot at the Wedding. While she wasn’t offered that part her chance to collaborate with Baumbach finally came a decade later in the shape of screwball comedy Mistress America.

I auditioned eight times for that movie. It was such an intense, long, drawn-out process,” she says of the three-month-long tryout. When Noah and his co-creator, actor Greta Gerwig, eventually offered Lola the part of Tracy, her elation was mixed with sheer relief that the auditioning was over. “They had me come for a meeting at DreamWorks. The movie isn’t even made by DreamWorks—I think they were probably just trying to seem fancy. We sat at the end of a long table and Noah talked about it for a while until they said, ‘We want to make this movie with you,’” she recalls. “I couldn’t believe it, but I also felt like… fucking finally.

Full article:

Post Archive: