In our Jan/Feb issue, Mozart in the Jungle star Lola Kirke poses in tennis whites and sounds off on the perks and perils of personal branding. Below, we’re proud to offer more of Kirke’s unfiltered insights, covering her career (both in TV and music), feminism, social media and more. Enjoy.
ON LIVING THE BRAND
If you’re in the spotlight as a young person now, you have to figure out your brand. Are you just an actor? Are you an actor and an activist? Are you an actor and an activist and a musician? ‘And’ ad nauseam. I feel like I’m still finding my voice. I wish I could say, ‘This is my cause. This is my purpose on earth,’ but at the moment the world is such a mess; anything can be your cause. I don’t feel pressure to present feminism as part of my brand, because it just is. If I say that, though, it sounds like it’s part of what I’m selling, and that gets a little complicated. But there is a commercial side to being an artist, and I’m lucky that people are buying it, at least to some degree. Being politically active is fucking cool. There’s space to be so many different things. Just give a damn.
ON THE NEW SEASON OF MOZART IN THE JUNGLE
I feel grateful to play a character who is walking on path parallel to mine as a young woman and a young creative professional. Being a classical musician in an orchestra shares a lot of same properties of being an actress, in the sense that you are performing other people’s work instead of creating your own. You are relying on other people to notice you and recognize you and give you a job. You are functioning in a much larger machine that you’re a part of, that you’re not necessarily at the helm of.
ON HER BURGEONING MUSIC CAREER
I relate to that dilemma of being passionate about something from a young age and forming an identity about that one thing. It’s nice to know what you want to do early on, but I think that it’s also really limiting. Being open to the idea that you have a lot of possibilities has been important for me. I mean, playing music has always been a part of me. So to elevate it out of the realm of hobby and make it like slightly more professional is empowering. The thread of my work and my music is about self-doubt, love or whatever else. To make art, or to make sounds in this world, is a political act, and it feels good to ally with other women and other non-gender binary voices who are doing the same.
I just got Instagram and it blows my mind. I had an account a couple of years ago and in the time that I’ve been off, it’s transformed from a tool to just show people pretty pictures and gloat about your life into this mechanism for personal branding. There are people who I have no idea who they really are, but I know what they look like from every angle—and so do 100,000 other people.
ON WOMEN’S RIGHTS
There are so many things that do not sit right with me—women’s issues, which bleed into health issues, which then bleed into foreign policy issues. This is a really interesting time to be human, and I think it’s wonderful time to be a woman in how there are so many opportunities. Yes, women are on the spectrum of minorities in this world, but it’s important to be part of the energy seeking to change that. There’s so much creative potential in this transformation women are experiencing as a group. I’m fascinated by it.
ON CHANGING HER BODY FOR ROLES
I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with directors and networks like Amazon that privilege my individuality as a woman and my choices for my own body. I’ve never really been asked to alter my appearance—and that’s probably not going to be the reality for my career. Your art does not get to be your own in this industry, whether you’re an actor or director or any other kind of filmmaker. There are scenarios where I could see changing the way my body looks, like becoming stronger or becoming leaner, that would be necessary telling a story about a certain character. If I’m playing a person in the Army, they’re not going to have a soft tummy like I do. So far, I’ve felt wanted for who I am. And that’s pretty special.