AMY SEIMETZ IN NEW YORK, NOVEMBER 2015. STYLING: ANDREW MUKAMAL. JACKET: 3.1 PHILLIP LIM. SHIRT AND PANTS: OTTOLINGER. EARRING AND BRACELETS: MM6 MAISON MARGIELA. COSMETICS: GIORGIO ARMANI BEAUTY, INCLUDING EYE TINT IN COLD COPPER AND LIP MAESTRO IN DOLCI. HAIR PRODUCTS: BUMBLE AND BUMBLE, INCLUDING SURF INFUSION. HAIR: HIRO + MARI FOR SALON87. MAKEUP: ASAMI TAGUCHI FOR GIORGIO ARMANI BEAUTY/FRANK REPS. SET DESIGN: WHITNEY HELLESEN/FRANK REPS. SPECIAL THANKS: VANDERVOORT STUDIO.
In Hollywood, Amy Seimetz is about as unusual as an original idea. Her directorial and acting careers evolved simultaneously. The 34-year-old Florida native made her name on the mumblecore scene, working with the likes of Joe Swanberg and Lena Dunham, taking various parts in movies and TV (including a role on The Killing), and writing and directing micro-budget shorts and a feature film that got raves at festivals. And then Steven Soderbergh called.
“It’s rare that an auteur calls and says, ‘I like your movies. Do you want to do a TV show?’â??” says Seimetz, who is now co-writing, co-directing, and executive-producing that very TV show—the new Starz program The Girlfriend Experience, inspired by Soderbergh’s 2009 film of the same name. In the show, Riley Keough plays a high-end call girl who provides emotional and physical intimacy. The fully realized characterization reflects changing attitudes toward sex work. “She’s unapologetic and pretty fearless,” Seimetz says of the lead. “I don’t think I’ve seen a female character explore this topic without feeling bad or punished.”
Seimetz went to NYU and Florida State, intending to direct, and she cast herself in her own movies to expedite production. Her breakout as a director, the 2012 feature Sun Don’t Shine, depicted a couple’s bucolic road trip spiraling into a dark, knotty psychological clusterfuck. (Hence the interest from Soderbergh, director of Sex, Lies, and Videotape.) “My favorite aspect of Soderbergh is that he understands that innovation comes to people who are new in the film world,” says Seimetz, adding that he immediately treated her as a peer. “It takes a lot of confidence and humility to admit in a room, ‘I don’t know if this is going to work, but let’s try it.’â??”
The success of Sun Don’t Shine on the festival circuit led to at least one critic calling her “an indie darling.” Judging from her busy slate—including a role in a film about Emily Dickinson—it’s a label that will likely stick. “It’s very cutesy and can be undermining,” she says of the sobriquet. “But the idea of ‘independent,’ I like that. It’s pretty punk. I like the idea that I came from a scrappy form of filmmaking. I was constantly grabbing a camera and learning to direct cinema, as opposed to someone telling me how to.”