By Alex Gonzalez
At 17, Jordan Kristine Seamón has already built an impressive résumé. You may know her as Caitlin Poythress on HBO’s coming-of-age series We Are Who We Are or you may have caught her appearances in The Vampire Diaries and Insatiable. Beyond acting, Seamón has many talents, including her chameleonic ability to adapt to new surroundings, as with her chosen city of Atlanta, where she moved six years ago after growing up in Philadelphia.
“There are no sidewalks in my development,” Seamón tells MTV News, “and I have a dog now, so when I have to walk my dog, I have to walk in the middle of the street. I miss sidewalks and I miss the hustle and bustle that you hear every night. I need noise to go to sleep. It’s very quiet here, and I miss noise.”
Although she has grown to love Atlanta’s green, hilly parks and active art scene, Seamón finds herself missing Philly whenever she’s out walking her corgi puppy, Nova. Still, both cities are far from the Northern Italian vistas where director Luca Guadagnino — who also helmed Call Me By Your Name — shot Who Are Who We Are, a short series following a group of teenagers living on an American military base abroad. Prior to landing the role of Caitlin, a 14-year-old daughter of a conservative soldier grappling with a newfound queer identity, Seamón had never traveled outside of the United States. Over the course of a six-month production, Seamón became well-acquainted with the local culture.
“It was very new,” Seamón says, “and I enjoyed learning the Italian language and just in general, being in Padova, where we stayed, and Chioggia and Bagnoli di Sopra, where we shot most of the series.”
To get there, Seamón’s mother, Felicia, whom she affectionately calls her “momager,” first found a posting for the role of Caitlin on a casting site and encouraged her to audition for the role. She’d known since age 6 that she wanted to be an entertainer; originally, she wanted to be a singer. By 10, she had joined local theater troupes, where directors told her she “wasn’t that bad,” so she decided to explore both.
As a child, she starred in local productions of plays like Lord, Why Did You Make Me Black?, Marching to Freedomland, and Next Actor Please. (No, they’re not on Vimeo — at least she hopes.) Her debut EP, an experimental mashup of hip-hop and bedroom pop called Untitled, was released in 2018 under the moniker J.K., her first and middle initials. A full, pop-oriented album called Identity Crisis followed this year, just before the September 14 premiere of We Are Who We Are. Her songs explored love, heartache, and mental health through upbeat R&B and were mostly written while filming the series in Italy. “I’m growing up and I’m still trying to figure out who I am and who I wanna be and where I fit in the world,” Seamón says.
After submitting self-audition tapes from home, she flew to California to meet with Guadagnino and co-star Jack Dylan Grazer, who determined she fit perfectly with them and the rest of the series cast, including Kid Cudi and Chloë Sevigny. She learned that she’d landed the extraordinary role while in an extremely ordinary location. “I got a call about a week later while I was driving through McDonald’s, and they told me that I got the role. And I screamed at the girl taking my order.”
She brought that enthusiasm to her onscreen portrayal of Caitlin, a teen who explores her gender identity throughout the season’s arc. She adopts a male alter-ego named Harper when she goes to a coffee shop and meets a young lady. Seamón, who herself is bisexual and gender-fluid, says her experience with her identity was similar in the ways she explored it — she rocks short hair, like Caitlin, and expresses herself through androgynous fashion — though she recognizes how fortunate she was to have grown up with understanding family and friends.
“I think Caitlin is having the exact same thing, with trying to figure out gender identity,” Seamón says. “But because Caitlin’s on a military base, the only access she really has is the internet and [Grazer’s character] Fraser.”
In one particularly shocking scene in the season’s fifth episode, Caitlin expresses curiosity about anatomy different from her own. When Fraser is peeing, she asks if she can hold his penis as he stands in front of the toilet.
“When I read the script,” Seamón says. “I looked at my mom and was like, ‘I don’t know, I think we might have to cut that scene out. I don’t know how they plan on shooting that, because I refuse.’ But then once Luca expressed, ‘Oh no, you’re not actually gonna have to do anything, it’s just the top half,’ I was like, ‘Oh, OK, no problem. I can do that.’ It was just funny to me, because I didn’t understand, but after actually shooting the scene and learning the meaning behind it — Caitlin trying to see what it’s like to have [a penis] — it’s just curiosity. Every kid has that moment where you’re just curious.”
The following scene, Caitlin sticks hair shavings onto her face, as a means to create the appearance of having facial hair. She quickly realizes she won’t be happy unless she shaves her entire head. In a tender moment evocative of their burgeoning friendship, Fraser begins cutting off the lower half of Caitlin’s hair, then proceeds to remove the rest. Seamón says that the lower half was made up of extensions, but everything else was her actual hair.
“I really just wanted to scream,” Seamón says. “You can see Jack is staying in character, as if Fraser just told Caitlin to quiet down, because I am actually screaming. I forgot that we were filming a TV show for a hot minute, but then once you see the cameras, you remember. But it was very thrilling and very exciting.”
Seamón’s parents have been supportive of how she expresses herself — after filming this scene, Seamón says her mom shaved her head in solidarity — as well as her creative endeavors throughout her life. In 2018, she and her father published a coloring book called Daddy’s Big Secret: Jordan Learns the Truth. In the series, however, Cailtin’s dad, Richard (played by Kid Cudi), was chagrined when he first saw a bald Caitlin. He yells at her and forbids her from hanging out with Fraser.
Seamón assures us that Cudi couldn’t be more unlike his conservative, Trump-supporting character.“It was difficult whenever we had scenes where we had to be kind of mad at each other or just not super happy,” Seamón says, “because we have so much fun together. He is the best TV dad ever.”
Though Seamón grew up listening to Cudi’s music, she did not know what he looked like until production began on We Are Who We Are.“When I first met him, I didn’t know he was Kid Cudi,” Seamón says. “He introduced himself as Scott, so I was like, ‘Oh, nice to meet you Scott, cool.’ But once I found out he was Kid Cudi, I was like ‘Oh my god, I loved that guy in middle school.’ That was my music. Like, it was all I listened to.”
In We Are Who We Are’s sixth episode, Fraser imagines him and Caitlin re-enacting Blood Orange’s “Time Will Tell” video by singing and replicating its choreography clad in white before a grand piano. Seamón says that despite the challenging work she and Grazer put in to perfect the dance in over “two or three days” and film it in over 10 takes, this was one of her favorite scenes to film.
“I don’t say I’m a dancer,” Seamón says, “I think I can dance, I can hold the beat in a rhythm, but I don’t classify myself as a dancer. I don’t classify myself as an actor, really. But that’s another story for another time.”
Seamón currently lives with her parents in Atlanta, and they have already binged the entire miniseries, though they also watch it together every Monday night on HBO. Although her parents are fans of the show, Seamón still feels awkward watching some scenes with them.“Some parts I just turn away,” Seamón says. “Even though we’re all super, super comfortable with one another and we’re all mature, I’m still like, ‘OK, I don’t wanna watch myself kiss someone else.’ It feels weird. I cringe.”
The miniseries wraps on November 2, and though there’s no word on future episodes, Seamón is on board to return. As the show’s first season takes place in 2016, Seamón hopes for a time jump in a hypothetical second season. “I feel like we’ve all grown a lot since the show,” Seamón says, “so I would like to see what the characters are doing in a couple years’ time.”