Kiersey Clemons is a name that not everyone is familiar with yet. The 24-year-old actress made her feature film debut only a few years ago as Cassandra “Diggy” Andrews in Rick Famuyiwa’s Sundance hit Dope, a best friend to the protagonist. Clemons has since had roles in films such as Neighbors 2 and Flatliners, and she most recently found great acclaim with another Sundance breakout, Brett Haley’s Hearts Beat Loud — a heartwarming musical drama in which she stars alongside Nick Offerman. Our own Neil Miller reviewed the film, remarking that Clemons “jumps off the screen with grace and vocal brilliance.”
But Clemons still has yet to break out in a lead role in a mainstream project. Her credits are currently fairly limited, but that is about to change in a major way. According to Deadline, she will star in AGC Studios’ film about Lauren Simmons, the youngest female trader to work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. She was also only the second African-American woman to work full-time at the NYSE and had to pass the challenging Series 19 exam, with a success rate of only 20%, in order to secure the position.
Not only is Clemons starring in the film, but she is also producing it — the biopic is slated to be the debut feature of her production company, Girl on Mercury. She both runs the company and is producing the Lauren Simmons film with her longtime managers, Eddie Galan and Starr Andreeff. Not only will this be Clemons’ biggest role yet, but it will be her first time taking a step behind the camera, as well.
Although it is still in the early stages of development, the film is bound to push Clemons to new heights in her career. Clemons’ performances have already been well-received by critics in the past, but she has yet to make a breakthrough as a name recognized by more general audiences. This biopic is one that will likely have mass appeal and should expose Clemons to a broader viewership. This is also the first time Clemons is really spearheading a film herself from an acting standpoint, without another character of equal or greater importance to the story than the one she is portraying.
There are also new waters to be tested with her portrayal of a nonfictional figure, and one who is very much alive and well today at that. Giving an accurate and honest performance such as this is a challenge that Clemons has had yet to face, so this might not only expand her reach to audiences but help to develop her own capacities as an actress.
Furthermore, Clemons’ role as a producer on this project will give her more control and authority on its outcome. Being a young Black woman in the industry, Clemons will be able to offer a perspective that is so seldom heard from among her peers. Her contributions to this film will inform the overall shape it takes, and she will be able to ensure the film has a certain layer of authenticity to it, as opposed to if the project were overseen solely by, say, a group of white men.
Clemons possesses the qualities — and now, the platform — to be a role model for young women, both onscreen and off. Despite her age, she has never been more in control of her career, and her strides in the industry thus far can serve as inspiration for, really, anyone. With her captivating and charming presence in front of the camera, she is sure to soon be a name the world is very familiar with. And with her new position behind the scenes, she will have greater say in the narratives she takes part in, just like this one. She may be young, but Clemons is headed for big things.