Three Great Things: Krisha Fairchild

The star of Krisha and the new indie drama Freeland opens up about what matters most to her in life.

Three Great Things is Talkhouse’s series in which artists tell us about three things they absolutely love. To mark the current release on demand of Freeland, the new drama starring Krisha Fairchild, the actress who broke out in the 2015 indie hit Krisha shares some of the things that bring meaning to her life. — N.D.

I Absolutely Love Still Being a Hippie
Let’s start there, because becoming a hippie at 20 explains who I am at 70. I think I know more about everything than I do. I could care less about success or status. And I don’t give a fuck what people think of me. Yup. Still a hippie.

For me, life is about what we value. We learn young, from watching the folks around us. My humanist values were rescued from fundamentalist Christianity, by the zeitgeist of the ’60s. As a teen, my Louisiana grandma put me in girdles and white gloves and dragged me to her born-again church. I’m grateful, because it kept me out of backseats with my boyfriends. No teenaged knocked-up path for me. (I thank the girdle.)

From the moment I saw the Beatles in concert and hyperventilated, I sensed it would not be the Bible that would set me free, but rather the songs, films and books I was devouring. Early exposure to the world at large and the Summer of Love led my mind from a closed box, into a global minefield with a Peter Max sunset.

What people miss about the ’60s and ’70s is that it was not all about the drugs. Not all of it. A lot was about ideals. Ideals which I still hold to be true. And which I break out my cane to protest for. It is totally astonishing to me that y’all are still having to hit the streets over simple human rights. (As a hippie, I blame capitalism, greed, inequality, hate and all those other true American values.)

We hippies are all about finding our tribe. Which for me, ironically, turned out to be my family of origin. I bounced around for decades, judging my parents, my partners, their choices. But when I learned about mindfulness, I got it: We were all just doing our best, given our damage. I crossed into empathy. And from then on, I knew I would step in front of a truck for any one of them. My definition of love.

The bottom line with tribes? Love is not all you need, but it’s the best start.

Time Traveling
I am addicted to archaeology, historical films, documentaries, novels, biographies. They have given me the perspective that all travel is time travel.

When we step out the door with a passport, we are entering the history of a place we may have never been, during a time we may have never lived. As an actor, when I leave the comfort of my home in Mexico, for the blessing of a chance to practice my craft, I am a time traveler. I am on a mission of cultural eavesdropping.

As part of my acting training in Chicago, we kept journals of strangers we saw, what they said, how they felt, how they behaved. I was comfy as an observer, an invisible introvert, playing an extrovert. To be that woman with a journal at the next table, absorbing your words, your body language, your tics, your tells. Born to eavesdrop.

It is never my intent to pry. I just really need to understand your history, your day-to-day existence, in Aix-en-Provence, or Mykonos, or Prague. It is research on the time you have passed in this place, how it molded you, how it feels now to live in your skin. It is my job as an actor to meld your culture, with my character as written, and to inhabit them both. Across time.

My Soul Pool
It took me a while to find the strength to look at my spirituality. When you escape a minister who dunked your nubile body into a tank of water in a church full of sanctimonious Southerners, you come to believe that all dogma is jargon. And vice versa.

It took convergences to get my attention. Those little pieces of magic that folks call coincidences. (If you are not braindead or dogmatized, you know what I mean.) Once I began to notice the intricate ways all things are connected, life became amazingly sweet. I credit my mom with teaching me how to love, then – with her sneak-drinking – with testing it. I thank my dad for my addiction to music, animals and travel. They exposed me to great things, yes. But all along, I was doing my own work: finding my nature, and diving willingly into my soul pool.

To me, every bird singing in a tree outside a window where I am crying … every mangy puppy in the road whose eyes say, You found me! … every time a friend speaks the exact words I needed to hear … Those convergences mean something. We are not alone. We come here with friends. We become friends to others. Someone somewhere has your back. That’s what I believe, anyway. And that is absolutely a great thing.

Krisha Fairchild is currently starring in the drama Freeland, which is now available on demand. She came out of her retirement to play the starring role in Trey Edward Shults’ debut feature, Krisha. Based on a true story, the film was hailed as one of the 10 best films ever made on addiction. It won top honors at American festivals SXSW, Denver, Nashville and Sidewalk, as well as the Taormina Festival in Italy, and Deauville in France, on the heels of its European premiere at Cannes in 2015. Her performance was lauded in feature articles in the Los Angeles Times, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Rolling Stone, and many others. In 2016, she was honored to be selected as a part of the Great Performers issue of the New York Times Magazine. The film Krisha won Spirit and Gotham awards. She also played a lead in the series Butchers Block.