story / Alyssa Hardy
photos / Katy Pritchett
styling / Natalie Saidi @ Tack Artists
makeup / Ashleigh Louer
hair / Derek Williams @ The Wall Group
It’s not uncommon to have rapidly changing and developing points of view as a teenager. Today, in a socio-political climate that begs for voices to be heard, the mark of the teenage perspective is more important than ever. For Kerris Dorsey, an 18-year-old actress with an already amazing resume, the weight of that is not lost on her. She has been in the spotlight since age five, working on big-time television shows like Brothers & Sisters and movies like Moneyball and Walk the Line. Currently, she has a starring role in the hit Showtime drama Ray Donovan.
This story has been told before: Growing up in an industry like Hollywood is not easy. There are as many (if not more) horror stories than there are success stories, but Dorsey is a young woman consistently marching to her own beat. Between big dreams and nervous laughter, she is a regular, multifaceted teenager—that is, of course, if regular includes spending hours on set with stars like Liev Shreiber and Brad Pitt, then going home to do calculus homework. She’s flown relatively under the radar as far as young starlets go, but as she encroaches on the end of her teenage years, her outgoing personality is getting her more attention than ever before. She is using this time to come into her own and develop her career the way she wants, as a creative with a desire to listen and learn from her environment. Her ideas about feminism and the human condition are more developed than what most of us might say for our teen years, but when you have the unique opportunity to represent your generation in an election year, a first for her, it’s never been more imperative.
You play a young teen girl on Ray Donovan. How do you compare to your character, Bridget?
I’ve been playing her since I was fourteen. I love playing her because I feel like it’s rare to have a dynamic character in her age range, especially for roles on television for young women. Many of the characters [that age] aren’t that colorful, and are kind of one note. To be able to play this character that is so dynamic and multifaceted, and not just the girl that comes in and says something gaudy and leaves, is amazing. Girls are complicated and they’re smart and to play that sort of dynamic character is really awesome to me. I enjoy it a lot.
She’s had some difficult scenes on the show, how do you prepare for that?
I think music is a huge part of my process, just like it is for every role, because I just love music in general. It connects to my own emotions so easily, so a certain song can bring up emotions without me even having to try. I always have a couple songs in my arsenal to listen to before I have to do an emotional scene. And just kind of like breaking down a scene and sort of figuring out where my character is in terms of her mindset, and what she wants out of the scene. I just try to read it a bunch of times and find different colors within the scene, but I always start with some music, that’s my main weapon.
What kind of music do you listen to?
I listen to so much! Arcade Fire—I’ve seen them five times live. The Strokes and even Ella Fitzgerald. I love anything really, as long as I connect to it in some way. But those are some of my top people.
It’s an election year and this will be the first president you get to vote for, as well as the first time you get to vote. What are some of the topics that are important for you?
I think that what’s really cool about this year is the fact that feminism has become such a great topic of conversation for so many people… I started reading Rookie Magazine and just reading women writers and kind of hearing their stories and their points of view, and so as I’ve gotten older that’s such a huge part of my life. What I think about and how I watch movies or just anything, [feminism] kind of informs you as a person. So women’s rights is a huge worldwide issue, but it is also a personal issue for me and I think that as I learn more about it, the more steadfast I am. I definitely think that it informs how you approach an election or how you approach your personal life and the industry that I’m in. It’s become kind of trendy to say, “I’m a feminist!” But I am. It’s so important if you’re a young woman to have that label as something you’ve given yourself.
This cycle has so many other hot topics: Black Lives Matter, education, etc. Is there anything else sticking out for you?
I think right now I’m trying to learn as much as I can about every aspect of the election, and of the candidates, because I think it’s so important to…take an informed stand. So I’m trying to find my own voice and my opinions. Because you know, you’re 18, you’re trying to find yourself and what you feel on every sort of topic. I’m actually obsessed right now. My sister just found a thing called procon.org. It gives you an unbiased, completely neutral stance. And it just shows you like, these are the people that are for this topic, these are the people that are against it, and this is why and this is why not. You can see where you fall within those. So right now that’s what I’m doing. I’m just trying to learn as much as I can and I’m trying to go into the election with sort of an educational experience, which sounds super nerdy. You really have to find your opinions, so I’m curating mine right now. I’m trying to make it a goal to learn as much as I can by the time the election comes around, because it’s all so important to make an informed decision, not to just go in blindly.
It’s really cool how open you are about these topics at your age. You’re outgoing, so maybe it’s been a bit easier to find and speak your voice. What kind of advice would you give for other people your age who are still not able to do that?
I think that I can be outgoing, but it depends on what situation I’m in. I can be super introverted as well. So I think finding something that you’re comfortable, something that you’re good at, you’ll feel your best and most passionate about and from that you’ll be able to find your voice. You’ll be able to find your way to communicate with people. Like when I’m on set I feel most confident, but I could be at a party with my friends and sometimes I feel a little less confident because that’s not where I feel like I’m passionate. So I think that it’s all about finding your wheelhouse and finding something that is important to you, whether it’s a hobby or a cause or a career. Through that, I think people can find their voice, or their way to communicate.
blazer, Manokhi. jumpsuit, Shokra. necklace, Lionette by Nat Sad. boots, Alejandra G. ring, CC Skye. sunglasses, Tnemnroda.