The third installment of James DeMonaco’s The Purge: Election Year was released earlier this month and if you haven’t seen it yet you should, if only to check out “Kimmy”–the enraged and entitled school girl who arrives at her local store on the morning of Purge night to steal candy bars.
When she’s thwarted by shop owner, Joe Dixon (Mykelti Williamson) and ex-neighborhood badass Laney Rucker (Betty Gabriel), she promises they’ll regret saying “no” to her.
“Kimmy” is played by 27 year-old actress, YES 27–we couldn’t believe it either, Brittany Mirabilé. Brittany is a classic empath who struggles between balancing the trait to drive her art and making sure she doesn’t become overwhelmed by the characters she delves into and the world around her.
“When I read a script I know where that character is coming from. I know their dreams, their nightmares, their secrets. I read people very well and sometimes I have to stop myself from being overwhelmed by them… It’s hard for me to not be consumed by things so I often take breaks from watching the news or social media by diving into my work.”
After seeing her stand-out performance in The Purge: Election Year we connected with the Bronx, New York native who agreed to chat with us about her character.
How long have you been acting?
I’ve been acting for 10 years. At this point it’s apart of my everyday life. Every little thing that I do has to do with my career so when people ask me “what do you do for fun” I laugh because I always get stuck on that question.
How did you get into acting?
I’ve wanted to be an actress back when I was a huge fan of the show “All That” (Throwback right?!) back then I just knew I would’ve been great on that show! Like a decade after that I applied to a performing arts high school and I majored in theatre. I also joined a youth theatre company that was absolutely amazing! It was funded by a non-profit organization and it was composed of teenagers all over the 5 boroughs of New York and we put on original shows that we helped create. After that I auditioned for a few performing arts colleges and totally bombed those auditions ( I was awful), so I ended up going to a school that was my 5th choice and I tried to get a degree in what would be my “plan B”. About 3 years in I was miserable. After doing some research on acting methods, and different schools I dropped out of college and went to an acting conservatory…and I haven’t looked back since
You’ve done short films in the past but The Purge: Election Year is your first feature film. How did you get involved in the project? Tell us what it was like to work on the film and your experience working along with the cast.
My manager submitted me for the project and I got a request to send in an audition tape so she sent me the sides. Once I got my hands on them I was super excited because Kimmy (The character I play) was nothing like anyone I ever got sent out for and I couldn’t wait to dive in. I had fun shooting it, I submitted it and thought nothing else about it, that’s how I work. I give it my best in the audition then I dwell and worry about it for an hour after, and then I’m on to the next. I got the call that I booked it when I was leaving the gym and walking to my restaurant job. I was sobbing and laughing and skipping through Herald Square I’m sure it was a sight to see! A few days after that I got to set and it was amazing. We had a wonderful crew and a totally kick ass cast! I had the time of my life, it felt like a dream come true. James is a brilliant director and I can’t wait till we work together again!
Your character Kimmy had some serious attitude and was ready to embrace her right to Purge. What’s her back story?
Within the world of the movie, the annual purge existed long enough to have a whole generation of Americans that don’t know what life was like without the purge. Kimmy was born and raised in that world. After reading and seeing how Kimmy interacts with Joe I had to fill in the blanks and analyze why she behaves that way. She killed her parents and brags about it. She has complete disregard for the rights of others and in fact she enjoys violating them. She had this strange sense of invincibility and complete disregard for her safety…. after some research it became clear, Kimmy has ASPD ( Antisocial Personality Disorder) on top of being apart of an incredibly violent world
Were the afro puffs your idea or theirs?
The afro puffs were my idea. That’s how I wore my hair in the audition tape and James LOVED it.
Have you always worn your hair naturally?
I did my big chop June 2008. I was so frustrated with my hair growing up. In elementary school I had a weird jerry curl-esque texturizer called “wave nouveau”…it was “cute” but way too high maintenance so, I wore braids for a while and let it grow out for a few years. When I got to middle school I would press my hair, and then I got a relaxer because it was supposed to be easier. My hair suffered from A LOT of breakage so I wore weaves to give my hair a “break” and it only made it worse.
Once I graduated high school I took the weave out because I wanted to grow out my own hair to be long, strong and healthy. Once I started earning my own money I concentrated on buying better products to help my hair and little did I know those products were full of harmful ingredients. My hair was stringy and damaged and I was so unhappy and insecure with it. I started doing my research and I found “nappturality.com“. The amazing women and those forums taught me all about our hair. I would post my questions and frustrations on the forums and I would get lots and lots of loving support.
In 2008 it was a lot harder to find hair products for our hair than it is now. I was floored when I discovered I could buy my favorite shampoo at my local beauty supply store and that I didn’t have to schlep all the way off to the edge of Manhattan to some tiny health food store. I was terrible at styling it though. I am a visual learner and back then there were way less YouTube tutorials, so one day I cut off all the relaxed hair and I never looked back. Nowadays I scour YouTube and secretly stalk my favorites…
Who are your favorite actors?
This is such a hard question for me because my answers always change. I am always fascinated by someone’s work. I constantly watch films and television, but here’s a few I love:
Lorraine Toussaint, Robert Downey Jr., Regina King, Meryl Streep, Michael C. Hall, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Peter Dinklage, Jeffery Wright, and Benedict Cumberbatch.
What type of movies or roles would you be interested in filming?
I would LOVE to do some work with motion capture like how Zoë Saldana did in “Avatar” or Benedict Cumberbatch did for “The Hobbit”. Every time I watch the behind the scenes footage of him working on it, it gives goose bumps and I get extremely anxious because I want to sink my teeth into a project like that so badly! I just know I could murder a role like that!!!
Are you working on any other films? Or doing anything outside of acting?
I am! It’s still in development right now so I can’t say too much about it yet, but you will be seeing more of me on the big screen soon! For now you can see more of my work on the web series “M.I.S.T.E.R.” it’s a gritty drama set in Mount Vernon, New York. If you’re a fan of the series “Money and Violence” then you’ll absolutely love this series.
Do you like candy as much as your character does?
Fun fact…my first job was working at Dylan’s Candy Bar in NYC and I ate enough candy for a lifetime! So many people have been sending me candy and pictures of candy bars and I’ve been loving it! For Kimmy though, it was never about the candy, it was all about getting revenge for not having things her way.
The scene when you return to the shop on Purge night was one of the most exciting! From the Christmas lights on the car to you stepping out of it in afro puffs, a blood stained prom dress and gold bejeweled AK-47 —it looked both terrifying and fun. How did you find shooting the scene? What was the atmosphere like during shooting?
The infamous scene where we were driving down the street all crazy on purge night was actually really funny and kind of scary for me because the road was actually covered in a THICK fog from the fog machine and our stunt car driver had to swerve left and right all over the road, but we couldn’t see a thing, so for every take I was grasping on to one of the handles on the roof of the car ( I don’t know what they’re called but people usually grab on to them when you make a sharp turn) and praying to God you couldn’t see me being such a chicken before I had to step out of the car and be a bad ass.
What was your favorite scene in the movie?
Ironically enough my favorite scene is when I die. When Laney gets out of the car and shoots all of us it’s so bad ass I could hardly contain myself in my seat! Every time I watch it I get so into it!
Highlighting the journey of Black women as they create spaces and elevate Black culture.
Highlighting the journey of Black women as they create spaces and elevate Black culture.