“I’ve just been accepting myself and that’s been really amazing.” Keitaro Cloward in conversation with actress Mikey Madison

Photographer Keitaro Cloward in conversation with actress Mikey Madison

*In a small Cafe in Hollywood, over a coffee and Mocha.

Photography and Interview by Keitaro Cloward

Keitaro:
Tell me about your experience making “Better Things”. Your thoughts on it, moving on into the future, and your “Better Things” Family.

Mikey:
I think mostly I’m just excited to see the girls again. We all live in different places. One of my “sisters” live in Alabama and one in New York so I never get to see them. I just cherish my time with them, they’ve grown to be like my actual sisters in a lot of ways. So I really look forward to spending time with them, creating something that’s women driven and hopefully empowering.

Keitaro:
So, tell me about that. Since, being women driven is the name of the game right now.

Mikey:
Well it should be.

 (Both laugh and agree)

Keitaro:
What part of “Better Things” do you feel really moves that initiative forward?

Mikey:
I think the fact that it’s the first show on FX that has an all female cast, that is written by women and directed by a woman. Is super special, interesting and attracts a lot of women to it. The show is also very real and raw, we don’t wear a lot of make up on the show, no one’s perfect and shiny and has their hair all done. It’s just about real life. I think that’s what interest a lot of people.

Keitaro:
What do you think the little nuances of having it being written by women and having a woman direct it are? That if it was directed by a man might not exist. Do you have any stories or examples ?

Mikey:
There’s just this intuition that we have and we can sort of just like read into things really well. I just think a woman’s perspective is just so fascinating to me, I’ve always gravitated toward stories that had mostly a female cast. I’m just sorta tired of all the stories and shows that have a male lead, I feel that that’s been done so many times before. I also just love women, women are beautiful and interesting. Everything starts from a woman, that’s just fascinating to me.

Keitaro:
That being said, do you believe it’s the fact that it’s an “All Women Lead” show that gives it it’s spice? Or do you believe that there are different subtleties to having a woman driven set, behind camera as well as in front, that give it its unique flavor?

Mikey:
I don’t know, because of course there are men on the crew part of the set. And now this year (for Season 3) they put together a writer’s room, because of some changes, and I think there will be some men also writing for this next season. But, I don’t know, but I feel like that there’s just something about when you walk on set. That all the women there feel very welcome, accepted, like they can do anything, and it’s very free. I feel that’s freeing as an Actor, to feel very welcomed and safe in a place.

 

“The scripts I choose are always all about storyline and the people behind it. “

 

Keitaro:
So what are your future goals, of course there’s Season 3 coming up. But are there any other private goals or initiatives that you are looking forward?

Mikey:
I’m one of those people, I’ve been trying to focus on the present since that’s where I’m in, but I’m one of those people who are always like, “What is my job”, “What am I gonna do next”, I wanna work on personal projects, charities, get into fashion. But I think it would be better to say that I’m just content with where I am right now , continue to grow as an artist, meet new people and continue to be happy. But we’ll see what happens, haha .

Keitaro:
If there was one passion project or goal that you could check off for 2018 what would it be?

Mikey:
I’m actually about to start writing a screenplay with one of my best friends. I have no idea where it will go be I think regardless it will be fun, keep my mind going, and stay creative. I hope to get poetry published, in the future, I love art and really want to open an art gallery some day.

Keitaro:
Who is the most important person or persons in your life?

Mikey:
As cliche as it is sounds, my Mom, haha. And it’s interesting, even right now when we are having rough times with each other. She’s still the person I go to for everything. I was just on the phone with her, I think someone was trying to steal money from my credit card. I was stressed out and she levels me. It’s like, I came from her, she created me. Something she said to me once that stuck, I don’t know I’m probably about to butcher it. She said, “ I brought you into this world, so I just hope somehow I can gain your respect so you’d want to be friends with me.” I thought that was so amazing, because she doesn’t expect anything from me, and here she brought me into this world. I don’t know, I just feel that that’s also how I want to approach my relationships. So I definitely think she’s the most influential and important person in my life.

 

“I don’t get nervous in front of the camera, but I do get nervous in life.”

 

Keitaro:
What’s the most influential movie or a moment that you remember that a movie had an effect on your life or how you thought about things?

Mikey:
I think I was about eleven when I saw “Stand by Me” . I just had never seen anything like that. A film about kids, that was so well acted and interesting. I felt so much when I watched it. Also there was a movie… I think it was .. “Honey, I shrunk..” no it was “Honey, I blew up the kid”. I only saw this one scene where there was this giant baby crying for his mom and his mother gets blown up to the same size. I don’t know, I just remember I felt so emotional when seeing that. I don’t know how old I was, maybe like seven. That was the last scene with them and the only scene I saw for some reason. I think my dad turned off the TV and my mom was like “It’s bath time now” and I just started crying. I was just so emotional from that specific scene. I just played it off like I really didn’t want to take a bath. But really it was just all the emotions from that silly little movie and the relationships that a child and a mother have together. I need to see it again and the whole thing this time and see how feel and react to it, haha.

Keitaro:
What do you like most about acting?

Mikey:
I’m a very shy person in life and the reason I was attracted to acting was because I was like “Oooo, what’s this thing ?” “ I can’t believe someone can just get up on stage and do this in front of all these people” and create this thing. I just think it’s such an opportunity to feel all of these emotions. Being yourself, but at the same time playing a different character, underneath the safety net. I feel there’s so many crazy things that I would’ve never been able to do, but under the safety net of being in a movie and I was able to. But, I think that’s what attracted me the most, was being able to feel things. Especially me being so shy and reserved, I felt that I needed a way to let things out.

 

“I just recently became very confident in myself, and I think it’s something that a lot of women struggle with.”

 

Keitaro:
Do you get nervous in front of the camera?

Mikey:
I don’t get nervous in front of the camera, but I do get nervous in life. I’ve always been shy even when I was a little baby. I was just kinda born that way. Which is interesting because babies aren’t usually born reserved and are usually like “Here I am”. But, parents have always told me I was very reserved and to myself. But with acting, I think it’s because, I’m being someone else and playing someone else, that I’m able to let go. Going back to the last question, I want to feel those emotions and I want to free in that moment. I think it’s an opportunity for myself and it would be a shame if I got nervous. But all the other parts , like Red Carpet and stuff, I get so nervous , hahaha.

Keitaro:
Is there any role you would not play?

Mikey:
I don’t know .. I’ve just been so lucky in my career so far to be able to play such interesting characters. That I feel have impacted me in some way. I’ve have read scripts before where the female character is just a body to help the male character’s storyline. And that just doesn’t interest me in anyway. I read this script a year ago it was a pretty big script, a nice Indie film, had a lot of money backing it. The character in it that they wanted me to play didn’t even have a name. She was also only in the first fifteen pages and in those pages was already naked, had a sex scene and no lines. It just made no sense, just was meat to propel this story forward. I don’t understand why they would do that. The scripts I choose are always all about storyline and the people behind it. I’ve done so many Indie films where the payment wasn’t close to my rate, it’s not about the money right now . It’s more if I read a story and it moves me and I almost feel protective over the character. I want to play her and hopefully do her justice. I’ve mostly done independent films , I think it’s because most of the stories I gravitate toward are not really big studio budget stories. So definitely, the most important thing for me is the people and the story.

 

“Everything starts from a woman , that’s just fascinating to me.”

 

Keitaro:
If there was anything you could say to future writers and directors reading this what would it be?

Mikey:
Well, I feel it’s getting better, and this is not to say I don’t like films where the male is a lead. But, there’s just so many of them. I have a lot of favorite films where the male is the lead character. But, I just feel I’m getting tired of the “Male Gaze” and think it would be interesting if there were more female driven stories out there. So I guess, just keep on going with that. Hopefully, the future looks brighter for that.

Keitaro:
Which Actor or Actress would you most like to act with? It can be multiple too, haha.

Mikey:
It will be, haha. Let’s see , I’m in love with Holly Hunter! I think she’s just completely incredible and it’s surprising that she’s not in more films right now. And I think it’s because there’s not a lot of great films written for people like her right now. But she’s just incredible, her face is a million things at once. I love her, I love Lea Seydoux, from “Blue is the Warmest Colour”. I think she’s completely amazing, she one the bravest actresses I’ve ever seen. Who else .. I love Laura Dern…. Oh, who else I think is really interesting, and has been acting a lot more lately, is SoKo. She’s this french singer, I think she’s just so fucking cool and I’d love to do a project with her.

Keitaro:
Anything you recently discovered or any thought you recently had that you thought was interesting?

Mikey:
I just recently became very confident in myself, and I think it’s something that a lot of women struggle with. Especially now since everything is so social media driven. I just recently joined Instagram and there was a couple moments, the week of joining Instagram. Where I was becoming very jealous of other women. Why don’t I look like that, why isn’t my life like this and jealous of other people’s success. Then I just took a step back, and was like , “I need to be happy for these women”. This is my face, this is my body, this is who I am right now and it’s not gonna change. I only have this body right now, haha. Who knows in a hundred years who I’ll be reincarnated into. But right now, I just need to love and cherish it. Recently, I’ve just been accepting myself and that’s been really amazing.

 

Photography and Interview by Keitaro Cloward