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”.