How did teen actor Jordan Kristine Seamón take on the most difficult scene for her in HBO’s We Are Who We Are?
How do actors make us believe that what we are watching is truly real (even though we know it’s make-believe?)
For just a moment of time, we are taken into another person’s perspective, the character itself, and we feel emotions as they feel emotions.
Jordan Kristine Seamón shares some great acting tips with us!
You play Caitlin Poythress, the gender non-conforming teen in HBO’s We Are Who We Are. There are a lot of heavy issues that are dealt with in this series. Which scene or scenes were the hardest for you to tackle and why?
In the new HBO / Sky Italia TV show, “We Are Who We Are” where I play Caitlin, if I had to choose one scene, the menstrual cycle (period) scene was the hardest for me to tackle. For everyone that has had periods, it can be a difficult to go through, but even more so an unimaginable experience when you’ve gotten it for the first time. When I got my period for the first time I was really embarrassed and scared. In an attempt to fully execute the scene, I thought back and remembered my first experience and trying to show it in an authentic way on camera was really difficult. I remember the Director, Luca Guadagnino, asking me to show so many different emotions and on top of that I was feeling really emotional just remembering my first-period experience, so I actually cried real tears during the scene and if you watch closely enough, you can see it a little. I do believe that there are many other very heavy topics, but in terms of actually filming them, this was the one for me. I think the scene looks really good, and in the end, I think Luca definitely pushed me to where he needed me.
You yourself identify as gender fluid and bisexual. What exactly does gender fluid mean? How has identifying this way in real life helped you to portray Caitlin with authenticity?
I think when asking, “What does this or that specific label mean?”, you’re gonna get a different answer every single time from different people. I believe every person has different reasons around their particular journey and how it led them to where they are currently. For me, gender-fluidity means that I don’t feel that I identify as female, male or even in-between the two. I have the capacity to identify with a fluidness when it comes to my gender. One day I could feel very feminine and want to be referred to with she/her pronouns. Sometimes they/them. Every once in a while, he/him. The majority of the time, people refer to me with she/her. This is understandable because my exterior is feminine, but I have plenty of close friends and family that will use different pronouns interchangeably.
I didn’t begin identifying this way until after playing Caitlin. So actually, I would say portraying Caitlin helped me to open up my understanding and increased my confidence and comfort around being whoever I want to be and encouraging others to do the same.
When you did your five self-tape auditions, what was going through your mind at the time? Did you realize at the time that this role could possibly change your life?
To be honest, I really hadn’t wrapped my mind fully around all of it. I was really excited about the possible idea of going to Italy and hoping that I might actually get the role and after five self tapes / auditions, I still wasn’t really sure. I learned midway through the audition process that it was for HBO, but I definitely did not think it would change my life, especially not as much as it actually did. I tried not to get my hopes up because I didn’t want to get disappointed, but slowly I started getting more and more excited about it. By the time I actually met Luca, Jack Dylan Grazer and Carmen Cuba, I was so excited to just be there and knew that I tried my hardest, and that I had already had such an amazing experience.
How does schooling work? What type of school did you attend before you got the role of Caitlin? Now that filming is over, but we’re still in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, how is school being handled?
Before WAWWA, I was in cyber-school. I had been completing online learning at home with my mom since kindergarten, until 7th and 8th grade, then I received a scholarship to attend a private, boarding school in Georgia, and after I began to pursue my music career, I transferred back to cyber. We did have an on-set teacher that would help Jack and me with schoolwork. Since returning from Italy, I’m being homeschooled because it is the most flexible way to maintain everything that I have going on. I have always aspired to go to college and even got to visit one of my top three, London School of Music, while we were on break during the filming. Time will tell what the future has in store for the next phase of my education and I am looking forward to it.
For the role of Caitlin, you had to learn different skills before filming, which took many months to learn, such as learning how to speak Italian, how to box, go hunting and boating. How did you have time to do all of this while still in school? Did production pay you in the months ahead of filming to do all of this training?
While I was learning the Italian language, boxing, boating, and shooting, I did have to keep up with school for a short time before the summer. I’m gonna be honest, at times it was really difficult and there were plenty of times where I wasn’t sure if I was actually going to be able to do everything well. I tried to remind myself that it will all be worth it in the end. I was lucky enough to get the role right before summer, so I didn’t have to do too much balancing of school and work until part-way through filming when school began again. As far as payment, the production company didn’t begin to pay me until I was physically on set shooting, but instead they paid for my virtual Italian classes that I took before traveling to Italy, as well as the kickboxing classes that I decided to take at home to prepare. For example, I would pay for my kickboxing lessons and then they would reimburse me. Once we arrived on set, we continued with the Italian classes and they added the boxing, shooting, and boating, etc. I can’t speak for every single production(s) / project, as sometimes things might be done differently, but this is how it went for me.
You are also musically inclined and put your recorded songs on Spotify! What process did you go through from beginning to end, to release your music?
My new album, “Identity Crisis”, and precious music that I wrote is available on all streaming networks (Tidal, Spotify, Apple Music, etc.). Music is actually an area that I am more comfortable with, because I had been doing it for some time. My music process generally starts with me coming up with an idea for a song, and that can happen when I’m out with family, friends or just listening to other music. After that, I’ll get the inspiration to make that song or album. Sometimes I will come up with the melody and harmony by myself, and sometimes I will reach out to one of the producers that I work with and ask them to send me some beats, then I see if any of my ideas fit well with any of the tracks that they’ve made. Sometimes I may not follow either of those methods and may just decide to try something totally new! It really just depends on the idea. Then, I will begin my writing process at home. I write my own music, unless I’m collaborating with another artist. I also have all of my songs copyrighted.
I really enjoy being alone in my room when I’m writing. I do go to my parents or to my friends during the writing process and I’ll ask them their thoughts, then I go back into my hole and work some more. Once I have the idea fully developed at home with my small, makeshift studio, I then go to the recording studio and get it recorded. Once it’s recorded (and I’m satisfied with it), then I go through the technical stuff of the release and distribution process. It’s a part of the music business that I am fortunate enough to understand about early in my career, which is very important.
You’re what’s called a Potterhead (Harry Potter fan) and probably started reading the Harry Potter novels when you were a little kid. The author, J. K. Rowling, has recently come under fire for having transphobic views, saying things to the effect that transgender people are confused or misguided about their gender. Now that you’re more adult, identify with the LGBT community AND portrayed an LGBT youth on screen, have you had any conflict in your head about supporting Harry Potter at this time in your life?
That’s a very difficult question. I really am a Potterhead and the entire Harry Potter Universe got me through middle school (and a little bit of high school) so I still want to support it and enjoy it and the nostalgia it brings for me. But it really hurt me reading the author’s opinions. I still support Harry Potter, and I buy little trinkets and memorabilia. But it definitely hurts that someone who created a whole universe where everyone just wanted to be accepted, but doesn’t share that same love and acceptance. I still enjoy everything about the series, I just personally disagree with the author’s views.
Has anyone in your hometown started treating you differently now that you’re on the entertainment radar?
I don’t still live in my hometown, so that’s not really been my experience. I don’t think that anyone treats me any differently. I am gifted nice things, and have established relationships with some brands which is always appreciated. And its fun to try new things and get mail, so I like that aspect.
What advice do you have for young performers looking to get started in show business?
The advice that I would give to young performers would be to ensure that you build and use a strong support team. Try to surround yourself by people who actually want to see you succeed and people that will work hard with you instead of against you. I can easily say the only thing that keeps me sane is my team. My parents, my best friend, and family have been so supportive before all of these experiences and they continue to be and I know I can always count on them. They help me so much…more than they will ever know.
Anything else you want to say?
“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light…” – Albus Dumbledore
Thank you so much for these amazing questions! I hope I was able to provide some help to someone out there!