Jordan Kristine Seamón is a name we’re all going to be hearing a lot more of.
The American actor plays one of two lead roles in perhaps the last big TV release of the year: We Are Who We Are.
Helmed by Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino, the drama has already generated huge groundswell in the States, not that newcomer Jordan would know: lockdown has prohibited the usual international press tours and because of face masks, she’s not been recognised – except for one slightly unsettling fan encounter.
“It was really weird so I’m not looking forward to that happening again,” she tells HuffPost UK. “I was sitting in the eye doctor’s office and this young lady was looking at me, like a lot,” she says, laughing.
“She stared at me and looked back down at her phone then looked at me again. I wasn’t sure if it was something on my face... I was getting up to go and she got up and stopped me and said, ‘excuse me, do you know Jack Dylan Grazer?’
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“I wasn’t sure how to respond but I didn’t want to lie so I said, ‘yes.’ She then showed me a picture that I took months ago with myself and Jack and said, ‘is this you?’ I said ‘yes’ and she said, ‘oh, that’s so cool,’ and then ran away.
“Not like walked away casually, she bolted out of the store, gone. I don’t know where she came from, I don’t know where she went. I just remember telling my mum that we needed to leave immediately so we could go home in case I saw her again.”
If being recognised is the downside for the 17-year-old actor, who admits she was focusing on music before she chanced it by sending in an audition tape for this role, the upsides include asserting herself as one of the brightest young acting talents around.
Another upside for Jordan is the discovery of her gender fluidity, which was the result of working on the show.
We Are Who We Are is the story of two Gen Z teens - Caitlin and Luca - growing up within the strict confines of an American military base in Northern Italy, who both experiment with their gender expressions.
“I had come out to my mum a few months before I even did my first audition, and I’ve just come out to the world a week ago on MTV News,” she says. “I hate that, but the world now knows about everything.”
I’m definitely thankful because the show helped me on my journey of self discovery and I’m still changing, still learning every day.
She had identified as bisexual and used she/her pronouns, but since filming has realised she is gender fluid: which means she is happy being referred to as male, female or the non-binary pronouns they/them.
She finds each makes her feel comfortable. “A lot of people still refer to me as she/her but I have people that refer to me as they/them, and every once in a while I’ll get a he/him which feels good and I appreciate it,” she says. “I’m definitely thankful because the show helped me on my journey of self discovery and I’m still changing, still learning every day.”
The show’s themes are presented across a gorgeous-looking eight-part series, primed with balmy shots of desolate Italian beaches and endless swimming. It’s stylistic, with a distinctly Call Me By Your Name aesthetic, and if anything the characters and the conversations feel even more authentic: as if ripped straight from reality.
Jordan, who plays Caitlin in the drama, is responsible for helping director Luca marry his vision with the reality of life for Gen Z teenagers.
“There are definitely a few scenes where we might have mentioned, ’Hey, that’s not something a teenager would say in 2014 [the year the show is set in] - that’s something somebody would say in 1947, so you should probably change that,” Jordan says. “[Director] Luca is very open to trying new things which I think makes the show so authentic.”
Jordan says she felt afraid of Luca’s intense directorial style when they first met, and hadn’t at first even realised he had helmed Call Me By Your Name, which she loved. But that fear ebbed away the more two worked together on set.
She highlights one particular scene in episode seven as an example of how the pair collaborated.
“Originally I’m supposed to read the message and cry into my hands,” she says of the scene. “I asked Luca if he thought it’d be good if I broke down and cried on my knees intensely. He said let’s just try it.
“I did it once, he liked it, I did it again, he liked it. I wasn’t sure if he actually liked it or was just saying that, but if you watch the show it’s actually in the scene, so he actually did like it which feels good.”
Adapting the scene felt crucial to the storytelling for Jordan. “Throughout the rest of the season you see Caitlin vulnerable, but you don’t see the very, very true vulnerability, like, ‘I can’t even control this,’ to the point where she breaks down.”
Luca had a similarly honest relationship with Jordan when he told her she was the only person he wanted for the role of Caitlin.
“He told me after we shot the show when the fifth or sixth episode was out in America that he knew that he wanted me from the very first self tape that I sent in and he was determined,” Jordan reveals.
Despite the odd cultural clash, Luca was an inspiration for Jordan. She hopes to go into writing and directing with his mantra of ‘just try it’ at the forefront of her mind. But for her next move, she may take a turn away from the themes of confinement, repression and angst that define We Are Who We Are.
As a Black person and a member of the LGBTQ community, I’m definitely very adamant about making sure that whatever role I do take is a good one with a good message.Jordan Kristine Seamón
She’s interested in working on a lighter project, although nothing’s in the diary yet. “Apparently my name is around, that’s always weird to hear but I’m thankful,” she says.
Starring alongside Jack Dylan Grazer, himself already a Gen Z star with 4 million Instagram followers off the back of roles in IT and Beautiful Boy, she may soon experience a similar level of attention.
There’s only one rule for future projects: that all she puts her name to is equally as representative as We Are Who We Are.
“As a Black person and a member of the LGBTQ community, I’m definitely very adamant about making sure that whatever role I do take is a good one with a good message, and people feel represented well, whether that be my gaybies or people of colour,” she states.
She’s currently looking at potential managers. “Things are getting very serious,” she admits.
In the immediate future she’s on a mission to offset the severity of We Are Who We Are with something a little cheerier.
“I hope I get into some comedy as I like to laugh and like to have fun,” she reflects.
“Everything I’ve done so far is very dramatic and very heavy. I’d like to do something that is stupid and dumb.”
We Are Who We Are arrives on BBC Three/iPlayer from November 22. Watch the trailer below.