Flickering Myth had the opportunity to speak with Fairfax stars Kiersey Clemons and Skyler Gisondo. All eight episodes of the animated comedy are now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video…
Having lived and worked in the city for years, actors Kiersey Clemons and Skyler Gisondo are no strangers to Los Angeles — and now, they are turning a reflective eye to their home terrain and the culture surrounding it with Amazon Prime Video’s Fairfax.
The animated comedy follows four best friends and their “neverending quest for clout” as they navigate Los Angeles’ Fairfax District’s influencer-oriented, social media-obsessed “hypebeast” culture. In particular, Gisondo plays the unrelentingly genuine Dale, a recent LA transplant who moves from Oregon with his family and quickly finds his core group of friends in Clemon’s Derica, Jaboukie Young-White’s Truman, and Peter Kim’s Benny; on the other hand, Derica is more jaded and cynical about the world, seeking to right every social and environmental injustice, while also pursuing a career as a model.
The two young actors have spent the better part of the past decade turning in noteworthy performances in some of Hollywood’s most talked-about projects. For Gisondo, he has made himself a standout presence in everything from Santa Clarita Diet, to The Righteous Gemstones, to perhaps most notably, Booksmart, where he played the wealthy and overly-enthusiastic Jared. Earnest (and earnestly misguided) is often Gisondo’s MO, so Dale plays to Gisondo’s strengths while allowing him wiggle room to flex his comedy chops.
As for Clemons, while she has gotten a lot of attention for her role as Barry Allen’s love interest in Zack Snyder’s Justice League and Andy Muschietti’s upcoming The Flash, her strong starring roles in such movies as Dope, Heart Beats Loud and Sweetheart has earned her some well-deserved indie cred, too. Versatility is quickly becoming a throughline in Clemon’s career, being able to give turns in Angie Tribeca and Antebellum with equal aplomb.
Especially during a pandemic, the recently-released Amazon show provided the opportunity for Clemons and Gisondo to escape into a world, that while grounded in their own, was heightened to include Dr. Phil hype brand T-shirts, Chernobyl-inspired music festivals, and Willy Wonka-esque tours of a fashion company.
In an era of prestige animated shows that have unexpected layers of sentimentality and emotional complexity, Amazon Prime Video’s Fairfax is fairly traditional in its approach to the genre. It’s a joke-dense half-hour comedy with the attention span and bouncy energy of a Saturday morning cartoon. And, according to Kiersey and Skyler, that’s exactly the arena they want to play in.
Flickering Myth spoke to Clemons and Gisondo about bringing their voices to the bursting world of Fairfax, personal philosophies when it comes to social media use, dream guest stars, and plenty more.
In both of your careers, you’ve bounced around between bigger studio movies, smaller indies, and TV shows. What in particular made you interested in Fairfax in the first place?
Gisondo: I wanted to be a part of an animated series forever. And I was stocked the second I got the material because Dale and I are really the same person. And it was so funny and super sharp and current and just from the second I got sent the sides, I want it to be a part of it so badly.
Clemons: I was drawn to Derica. And that’s what made me more excited about it. I guess I was like, “My voice is annoying. Are we sure that you actually want me to do this?” But, that’s the fun part of playing an adolescent, is your voice is kind of annoying. At least it is a little bit annoying. Like you talk a lot and you say really heavy things.
This show can go from being relatively grounded and satirical about LA culture to absolutely ridiculous and off the rails the next second. How fun is it to play in a world where, unlike a live-action film role, there really aren’t rules?
Gisondo: It’s the best. It’s so nuts. When we first started recording, it was early COVID, so we were all like recording in our closets with blankets over our head, which just added to like the insanity of it all. And it’s exactly what you said. You have no limitations. You’re kind of able to do whatever, jump around really quickly. And all of us are playing a bunch of different voices. We’d always get handed, little one line or two lines, which I’m like, shockingly horrible at. Like, so unusably bad at doing anyone other, other than Dale! But it’s really freeing when you’re not worried about what you look like. You’re not like, “Oh, does my hair look good?” “Did that take look good?” You’re able to knock out a bunch in a row. It’s almost like the most childlike form of storytelling you could imagine. Right. There are none of those limitations with like TV or film that you have.
Clemons: Oh yeah, it is childlike. What Skyler said.
In Fairfax, it always feels like there’s a follower count hanging over each character’s head. In your experiences, how much of that is true of the Hollywood ecosystem nowadays?
Clemons: I think that probably it’s a form of income for people and a lot of people in LA or Hollywood need that extra income. You’re still an artist. So that’s kind of cool because it does allow some people the freedom … to actually maybe do things or make things that they want to make. That’s the optimistic side, right? Then there’s like the devilish side where it actually works against [you] if the follower count isn’t high. Depending on what it is that you do. It just sucks that a number can define someone’s success. It’s so silly — success isn’t based on if you’re a really good musician or a really amazing actor-writer or something. There’s all of these other things that come into play and you’re kind of defined by how many people like you. Ew. We’ve been told like our whole lives to not care about that and then, [we’re] put in an exact position to maybe being cornered to care a little bit, at least.
Gisondo: It’s odd too because it’s not really a reflection of your work or anything. Instagram’s really just its own thing where I’ll come across like a four-time Oscar winner’s Instagram, and they’ll have like 35,000 followers because every photo is a landscape photo or of their cat or a t-shirt they like. And the people that have all the followers — it’s a very specific algorithm-driven thing that some people really tap into. So it’s almost like its own universe. I remember never really caring much about it or being invested until one day, years ago on Instagram, I was finally getting some followers and some dude hit me up. He was like, “Hey man, I’d love to send you this home laser tag kit.” And that was the day I was like, “Oh man, this can be pretty sweet.” [laughs] I got to start thinking about this a little seriously [sarcastic]. That’s the one upside, the free stuff like that!
Social media isn’t necessarily made out to be a good or bad thing on the show. If anything, I feel like your characters use it as an extension of their identities. What is your personal philosophy when it comes to social media use and does it align with your character’s philosophy?
Clemons: I think that Derica uses social media to probably make the world a better place. That’s her philosophy. It’s making the world a better place just like part of your lifestyle and your every day [routine]. I feel like I use social media to promote projects and then the rest is just me fucking with people. The rest of it is me just saying or doing things that makes people feel good when they’re on social media. Like, why not?
Gisondo: My account kind of is “Dale’s Trailz” [Dale’s Instagram account on the show]. Like, I pretty much use it as Dale uses it. I just went on a road trip, so my entire Instagram right now is different national parks and hikes. And then I only post like once every five months usually. So I’m not really great on it.
You’ve both lived in LA for quite some time — what do you think is a common misconception about the city that most film and TV shows get wrong? And what do you think about Fairfax gets it right?
Clemons: I don’t think that LA is as beautiful as people think that it is. It’s probably one of the least beautiful places that I’ve been [laughs]. Something they get right? Maybe like people’s perception of farmers’ markets. We have some really nice farmers’ market. Malibu is the shit. Fairfax is like that. Traffic sucks. Hiking is good.
Gisondo: Yeah, they really nail Fairfax. That was crazy to see that brought to life in that way. I think it’s difficult to get a single perception of LA because it’s just so sprawling and it’s so many neighborhoods with completely different vibes — just 15 to 20 minutes from one another. Like Kiersey and I both grew up in the South Bay, which may as well be Mars compared to Fairfax. It’s so difficult to encompass all of it, but [showrunners Matt Hausfater, Aaron Buchsbaum, and Teddy Riley] were so locked into Fairfax culture and the vibe there. And that world was brought to life in such a hyperrealistic way in the show.
There are a ton of guest stars on the show this season from Shania Twain, to Elliott Gould, to Billy Porter. First of all, how much interacting did you get to do with those guest stars? And secondly, do you have a dream guest star for the next season?
Clemons: I love that we get to do table reads because I thought that there may be a separation, like would I ever get to meet these people? We would do Zoom table reads and that was the most that we all got to interact outside of exchanging numbers and stuff like that. But I specifically … when Billy Porter was on the Zoom, I felt like that day, everyone was just like [makes an astonished face] … Billy was just like doing their thing! It was really, really brilliant. I hope that for season three, I really want my best friend to come on and voice something. Awkwafina. I want her to come on and … I don’t know, but I wanted her to do something.
Gisondo: Yeah, dude, the group of people they put together is crazy. I mean, Henry Winkler was incredible. They got Ben Schwartz. I have a bunch of stuff with Ben Schwartz. He and I kind of ran a love triangle with Zoey Deutch’s character. And I saw like a year and a half ago, Ben do his long-form improv show, Middleditch and Schwartz, and I was just so blown away. He was so brilliantly funny, and I was so stoked when I found out he was part of the show. Dream guest star for next year … I’d say Awkwafina, man. I mean, I got to get behind Kiersey on that one!
Clemons: Hell yeah! Well, now it’s going to happen because we said it.
Fairfax is an Amazon Original adult animated comedy series that follows four middle school best friends on their never-ending quest for clout on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles—the pulsing heart of hypebeast culture. Starring Skyler Gisondo, Kiersey Clemons, Peter S. Kim, and Jaboukie Young-White—and featuring the likes of Billy Porter, Zoey Deutch, Camila Mendes, Rob Delaney, Yvette Nicole Brown, Ben Schwartz, JB Smoove, John Leguizamo, and Colton Dunn, among others, in guest roles—this series is about 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 cop.
Many thanks to Kiersey Clemons and Skyler Gisondo for taking the time for this interview.