“If you don’t have it all figured out yet, that’s okay,” reassures Jordan Seamón. We’re talking with the rising star about HBO’s We Are Who We Are, the debut television project from Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino. A coming-of-age drama, the eight-episode series follows the lives of two teeangers on an army base in Italy. With supporting performances from Chlöe Sevigny, Alice Braga, Spence Moore II and Kid Cudi, the series has received universal critical acclaim for its exploration of gender, race and identity.
Seamón – in her first major role – portrays Caitlin “Harper” Poythress, one of the two aforementioned teens who bonds with series lead, Fraser (played by Jack Dylan Grazer), and embarks on a journey of self-discovery. Like her character, Seamón found herself during the six-month shoot. “Before I shot the show, I just identified as a bisexual woman,” she opens up to GAY TIMES.
After being referred to as Caitlin on set and with ‘they’ pronouns, Seamón came to the realisation that she was gender-fluid. “It didn’t feel weird or uncomfortable,” she adds. “It’s definitely helped my journey, which is why I always express that I’m super duper thankful for being able to play a character that made my journey a tad bit easier.”
Ahead of We Are Who We Are’s debut on BBC iPlayer (it’s available to stream now!), we spoke with the actress and singer over Zoom to discuss her beloved role in the fan-favourite drama, how the series reflects the up-and-coming LGBTQ+ generation, and where she wants to see Caitlin in a second season.
What drew you to the role of Caitlin?
It’s not like how some people have super cool stories on what drew them to the role. My mom was going through a casting website that she scrolled through, read the role and showed me the initial character blurb. And I just really liked it, I could really relate to the character in a sense. Caitlin was described as this super tomboy that did a lot of crazy things and just had a lot of fun. I felt very similar to that at the time. Not now, obviously, but at the time, I could really relate.
It really was the first time that I was referred to with they/them pronouns, and it felt good for me. It didn't feel weird or uncomfortable.
How did your own personal experiences inform your portrayal?
It informed some of it, but not all. I’m an adventurous person, so I like to think it was really easy. A lot of the things that Caitlin does, like the gun shooting, the boxing and the boating, it didn’t really take much for me to do. Even learning the Italian, it wasn’t hard for me to do because I’ve done similar things. When I was doing all the cool action stuff that Caitlin does, it was really easy for me to do because I was such an adventurous person and kind of still am. Other things, not that much. At that point in my life, Caitlin and I differed a lot. But slowly, we’ve become more and more similar to each other. But at that point in my life, the only thing that I really was able to bring to the role was just my adventurous side, which really helped whenever Luca asked me to do something crazy.
Caitlin struggles with their gender identity throughout the series – what kind of research did you do to step into that character?
At the time, I wasn’t questioning my gender identity. So, what I did to become more, I guess the word would be ‘aware’ or more ‘conscious’, was I asked friends that experienced the same thing. Now I’m gender-fluid, but at the time, I didn’t believe myself to be so I just asked friends. I was like, ‘Hey, what is this like? How is the experience? What were your thoughts and feelings?’ Just to not get a textbook idea of what it’s like, because everybody’s experience is different. I felt like I was able to bring a little bit more authenticity to the performance with speaking to people who have either questioned their gender identity or had transitioned, just to get a genuine idea of what it actually is, instead of what a textbook is telling you.
Was your time on the show a factor in discovering your gender identity?
Before I shot the show, I just identified as a bisexual woman. After playing the character, Caitlin, I was referred to as Caitlin a lot, just by accident. I just adopted it. I was like, ‘No, it’s fine. For six months, call me Caitlin.’ But you know, when people talked about Caitlin, they would use all pronouns or she/they pronouns. It really was the first time that I was referred to with they/them pronouns, and it felt good for me. It didn’t feel weird or uncomfortable. So, I didn’t really think too much about it, and I didn’t really talk to too many people about it, just because I was still very unsure. I wanted to continue to play the role without trying to put my journey on top of Caitlin’s journey. I just wanted to finish that and then go throughout my journey, but it definitely helped. I now identify as gender-fluid so I use she/they pronouns. Some people refer to me with he/him pronouns, that doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable. They’re not my preferred ones, but if people use them I’m not offended. It’s definitely helped my journey, which is why I always express that I’m super duper thankful for being able to play a character that made my journey a tad bit easier.
How would you say Caitlin and Fraser reflect the up-and-coming LGBTQ+ generation?
That’s a really good question, nobody’s asked me that yet. I think Caitlin and Fraser show that our generation have the ability to be fluid. Sometimes, we have a tendency to be so focused on labels, which we’re drifting away from, which is really good. Labels can sometimes be really helpful, and if a label is good for you, then great, but sometimes a label can not be great. It can really dampen someone and put them in one spot when they’re not. I think Caitlin, and Fraser, especially with how the series goes, and from start to end, it shows that it’s okay to not know exactly where you are. It’s okay to be everything at once, to be very fluid and open. You don’t have to use a label. I mean, you are who you are. It’s what the show’s called, We Are Who We Are, because you’re just being yourself. If you don’t have it all figured out yet, that’s okay.
We Are Who We Are has garnered a passionate following online. Have you noticed an impact of your character on viewers?
I have. I didn’t think that was gonna happen, just because I don’t tell myself to have high expectations for anything, so I can’t get disappointed. It’s not a good way to live, but it’s how I’ve been living for the past 17 years. I hoped they would, but I didn’t think that a lot of people were going to really resonate with the show and the characters. But they do, which is really cool and really nice to see. To go through my requests and my DM’s every once in a while and having people telling me like, ‘Hey, thank you so much for playing with character, for being a Black, queer person and playing this amazing complex character. This really helped me come out to my parents and be more accepting of myself,’ is really inspiring. It’s crazy to think that me in Italy for six months, shooting a gun and rolling on a big boat with Kid Cudi has been able to inspire so many people. It makes me feel really good and I hope I can continue to do that in all the things I create.
Caitlin and Fraser show that our generation have the ability to be fluid.
What a great first gig, huh?
Yeah, it’s shocking. I feel like a lot of people say that in interviews like, ‘This is your first big gig!’ I don’t know how it happened. It just did. I definitely thought that when I got on set that I wasn’t going to really be able to hold my own. I thought I was going to be a little bit of an outsider, ‘Oh, these people are not gonna like me because I probably can’t even act.’ Luckily, the cast was so amazing and so uplifting. Each and every single one of them are so good at making other people feel good. It made the entire experience like ten times better, and made me feel good about my semi-acting skills!
There’s quite a few intense scenes in We Are Who We Are. What was the most difficult for you to shoot, personally?
The period scene. That was like the main one. I think it was the first time cried on set. I wasn’t supposed to be crying in character. I was crying because the scene was really hard. Luca asked me to display a lot of emotions within this tiny little scene. He was like, ‘I want you to be this and that, and this and that.’ You understand what he’s saying and you recognise what he’s trying to say, but in that moment, it can be very difficult. Trying to convey all those emotions is really hard, even when you’re feeling them in real life. On top of that, it’s a scene that I could really relate to. I remember when I first got my period, and it was really embarrassing for me. So, having to redo it again with so much blood in a bikini, in front of all these new cast members… It was one of the first few weeks that we’d shot in front of all these men and all these cameras. It’s really scary, and it’s such an emotional thing for Caitlin. When you see my face after I put the little tissue in the sand – which is horrible, I don’t condone littering, just want to put that out there, I went back after we were done! – you see that little switch, that little moment of where Caitlin has to perk herself up. That was me. I thought, ‘I’m looking a little sad, maybe I should just smile because everyone’s watching me.’ It fits really well with the scene, because that’s what a lot of women and Black women, especially, have to go through on a day-to-day basis, having to just fix your face. I mean, the worst of the worst could be happening to you and you’re just like, ‘I have to put on a show. I have to put on this mask for society.’ It was really hard. I’m definitely happy that it happened, because now I can comfortably bring some more authenticity to scenes that I do in future.
What did you learn the most from your time on set?
It’s really cliche, but I learned a lot about friendship. I’m an only child, and some people, if they don’t have friends, they have a sibling. I grew up in not a great neighbourhood, but I didn’t have a lot of people around that were my age. I really am a little bit of an introvert, I enjoy keeping to myself, so I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up. For a long time, I really wanted friends. By the time I got to Italy, I just gotten to the point where I was like, ‘I don’t really need them. If it happens, it happens, but I don’t really care anymore.’ But once I got to Italy, I met so many amazing people that were so nice and genuine. All of the people in my past that I thought were my actual friends had done really horrible things to me, really toxic things. Meeting my cast and co-workers, and then becoming cordial with them and slowly becoming friends, with them doing things for me, I was totally caught off guard. I was like, ‘What are you doing?’ and they would say, ‘Jordan, this is what friends do for one another. This is how people communicate.’ I had no idea that I was in so many toxic relationships until I met these people, who will call me because they just want to check up on me. They’re perfectly fine if I don’t text them for weeks at a time. They don’t get angry with me. They don’t gaslight me or anything. After meeting these people and interacting with them, I’ve learned what it’s like to have real friends, and what friends are actually supposed to do for you. So yeah, friendship.
We Are Who We Are has been billed as a limited series – is a second season possible?
It’s not! It’s not a limited series. For some reason, several interviewers have said it, and it’s not a limited series. We thought it was, but it’s not. It could have another season, so spread the word! It’s not a limited series. For everyone reading, it can happen. We can have another season, it can happen again. I can confirm this from two publicists now.
It could have another season, so spread the word! It's not a limited series. For everyone reading, it can happen.
Okay, love that answer – where would you like to see Caitlin in a second season then?
I would really like to see Caitlin in a few years time. Some people want to see immediately after. I don’t, just for a multitude of reasons. I really think the main reason is that all of us grew up so much after playing those roles. I came back a completely different person, stronger and more secure. So, I feel like it might be a little bit difficult. Not only for me, but for the rest of my cast to try and go back to that much younger character. We’re all a year older and we’ve gone through COVID. I feel like we’ve all grown up so much because of everything that’s happened in the world in general. So, I would like to see the characters a tad bit older, maybe in four years? Maybe even two? I feel like I could play a 16 year old. I wouldn’t want to, I’d prefer an 18 year old. I would like to see them a little bit older, a little more established, a little more aware of what type of people they are, where they are and what they’re trying to do with their lives. I really just want to see Caitlin as a big gay soldier, a huge lesbian soldier. I just want to kiss girls, that’s my problem!
And where would you like to see your artistry go next?
Literally anywhere! I’m not that picky. I just hope that in the next few years of my life, I’m still enjoying it. I have a tendency to get really passionate about things, which can be good, but sometimes it can also be my downfall. I have started things and been really dedicated to it to a point where it’s affecting my mental health. So, I just hope that within the next year – well, for the rest of my life, because I’d like to act and sing for the rest of my life – that I continue to enjoy it and find a way to not go crazy while doing it.
I read in a previous interview that you want to work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Which character have you got your eye on?
Yeah, I already have her. Her name is Riri Williams aka Iron Heart. She’s essentially the female Iron Man, a Black girl with a really cute Afro and everything. Someone did a side-by-side of the two of us, and we look very similar. Just to put that out there, just saying. I just really like the character, she’s super cool. She’s supposed to be a college graduate at age 12 or something and works with the actual Iron Man. That means if I did play the role, I would probably get to meet Robert Downey Jr., which is a dream. I just hope it happens. If it doesn’t, I’ll still be happy for whoever gets cast. I’ll be a little jealous, but…
We Are Who We Are is available to stream on BBC Three via BBC iPlayer from Sunday 22 November.