A Chat With Zoe Lister-Jones

A few weeks ago I was at a friend’s house drinking wine and trying not to spill the wine all over because that’s what I had done — twice! — the last time she invited me over. (In my defense, her stemless wine glasses have an unusually small flat part on the bottom. It’s like drinking wine out of an ostrich egg and then trying to stand it up on end, except that you have been drinking so it’s even more impossible. In my defense again, I’m not just going to trash someone’s wine glasses without buying them new acrylic ones from Pier 1 with huge, flat bottoms.) We were having a great time. And then suddenly she showed me a text she just got: a photo of Zoe Lister-Jones dressed up Nicki Minaj-esque and I pretty much lost it, first of all because I was tipsy, and second of all because I know people who know Zoe Lister-Jones now that I live in LA, and also those heart lips. The heart lips! Zoe plays Lily on Whitney, wrote and starred in Lola Versus, which is out tomorrow, and she also made a rap parody for Funny Or Die, hence the makeup. But you already knew all of that. What you didn’t know were the answers to this haphazard mess of questions I asked her via email over the course of the week leading up to her film premiere, also known as “Hell Week.” Or is it? No, but it’s a pretty busy week!

Jane Marie: Okay, so tell me everything. How much makeup is that? How long did it take to put on? Do you wear your lipstick in a heart shape every day now? Just tell me the best parts and the worst parts of being a female rapper.

Zoe: I mean, let’s be real. I’m wearing A LOT of makeup, but when transforming into Harajuku Minaj, one must. My makeup was done by Jessica Leigh Schwartz, who helped me find my inner Gaga. The heart shape is pretty trill though. I haven’t yet rocked it on the street, but I’m working my way towards accessing the part of me that could. Also I have a tendency of licking my lips a lot, so I feel like after a few hours I would just end up looking like Marilyn Manson.

An email, sent moments later:

Subject: also…

Z: Last night was our premiere and I did a super vamp look, which I’m digging.

JM: You nailed the light eye/dramatic lip thing and just glowed, despite wearing a lip color that could skew goth. Did you have to psych yourself up to wear it?

Z: Hell no! It was my idea. My makeup artist is a genius. So when I told him I wanted vamp lips, he mixed two shades, so that there was a little more red to the lips and it didn’t skew too goth. But I love bold lips. They’re my go to.

Abruptly switching topics after seeing Lola Versus on Wednesday night. SPOILER ALERT, sort of? I don’t know how to talk about movies in a way that won’t spoil at least part of it by revealing the better parts of the plot. Sorry: The movie stars Greta Gerwig as Lola. She’s 29, not that it matters, and gets dumped by her longterm dude and fiance Luke, played by Joel Kinnaman who you might already love from The Killing on AMC. The movie just follows her around for the next year as she tries to figure out what the fuck happened/is happening/is going to happen. You know, like when a human gets dumped. Zoe plays her best friend Alice and Hamish Linklater is another pal Henry. (So many names!) I, Jane Marie, really enjoyed it:

JM: There are too many wonderful parts, but one overarching thing is that I did not hate any of the characters and that is NOT who I am as a movie viewer. I usually really hate someone, and not in a way that is a compliment to the acting or script, but in a “why am I watching this crap?” way and I never felt that watching this movie. Not even at Big Dick Nick. But also, it made me really sad. I do wish I weren’t so sad right now. I guess I’m not really asking you a question am I?

Okay, how about this: In the end I think it made me a kind of wistfully sad for that day when you come home, all alone, to your apartment and it hits you. There are no roommates, your heart isn’t broken anymore, and you just sit there alone with the flowers you bought for yourself and survey this tiny kingdom you’ve created. That is a fucking SWEET day. Have you had one of those?

Z: I have, but I think the thing that we really wanted to capture in the film was that even when you find yourself in awe of your tiny kingdom (or queendom as the case may be…), the journey is far from over. Because I think no matter how old you are, or how much you’ve learned in your life experience, once you enter into a new relationship a lot of the same issues come to the surface. The most prominent of them often being how to craft independence and selfhood within a serious relationship. And how not to define yourself by the person your with. And I struggle with those issues like the rest of us.

JM: The weird thing is, that’s why I got my hopes up for Lola and Henry — he seemed to be a symbol of her making different choices like being in a relationship where you aren’t consumed by the other person. But then her heart/vagina hadn’t really caught up with where her brain wanted her to go. But in the end, your character, Alice, got the obviously good guy. It was a reward for staying single. I feel like that’s what I always want to tell my friends who are not finding the right person, “STAY SINGLE. BE SINGLE.” because it will, or won’t, happen, and either way at least you’re hanging out with someone you like: You.

Z: I know! Our brains are rarely in sync with our hearts/vaginas!!!

JM: Okay, so back to makeup: was that super dark spray tan that you got in the movie actual spray tan or was it bronzer? Asking for a friend.

Z: Haha! Okay, tell your friend that it was NARS body makeup, only because I had to go back to being pale later that day, but that I don’t hate on spray tans and one of these days I’m gonna get one, just wait. J. Lo beware.

JM: You look very comfortable and natural in that second crazy outfit in your rap video “Romcom 4 Life” and it reminded me of one time when I dressed up as a “Hip Hop Honey” for Halloween and no one realized I was in costume. Tell me that came naturally to you because you dressed like Kreayshawn when you were in high school.

Z: Ha! I’ve always had some hip hop in me. Truth be told, I was a total freak in high school. I shaved my head when I was twelve, and wore old man polyester seventies suits. It was a sight to be seen. But I grew up on hip hop: Slick Rick, Black Star, Common, Talib Kweli, Dead Prez, Big Pun, Mary J, Kim, you know. So it does come sorta naturally. And god bless Kreayshawn. I wish I had swag pumping out of my ovaries…

And finally the question that’s been on everyone’s minds, but no one has dared to ask:

JM: How great is Joel Kinnaman in person? Is he great or is he great? Or is he a jerk? You can tell me.

Z: Joel is the sweetest. And the finest brother on the scene. Tall, and tatted, and a body like a Grecian god. Also I have a boyfriend, so I’ll stop now.