Though Jemima Kirke is by trade an artist and not an actor, she has garnered a growing audience for her onscreen persona: the cool girl who’s a bad influence on impressionable young heroines. It’s a role she played opposite her high school friend Lena Dunham in Dunham’s 2010 film, Tiny Furniture, and one Kirke reprises in HBO’s Girls, premiering this month. The show, also created by Dunham, revolves around a foursome—Kirke, Dunham, Allison Williams, and Zosia Mamet—and their misadventures in love and work. Kirke’s character, Jessa, is a peripatetic pot stirrer: When she’s not bedding a girlfriend’s beau, she might be found, say, “shucking pearls” in Bali. “Jessa can come off as a bit of a free spirit,” admits the 27-year-old daughter of Bad Company drummer Simon Kirke. Born in London and raised in New York, Kirke spent her wild teen years with actress Paz de la Huerta, best known for her former role in Boardwalk Empire. Today Kirke lives quietly with her husband and daughter in Brooklyn. And although she empathizes with Jessa, Kirke finds that she’s matured: “To have your personality be your trade—it’s not so cute at this age.”
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