Actress Iyari Limon is a woman with a thirst for adventure. This Christmas she went to Peru on a lark. “It was great. I hiked the Amazon, I slept in hammocks in the jungle, fished for piranhas, got attacked by mosquitoes, climbed Machu Picchu on New Year’s Day, did a ritual with a Shaman on the Amazon, I did it all. (laughs) And I only had a backpack. Just me, my friend Paula and our backpacks, not knowing where we were going next.”
Anyone who meets Limon will find that she brings that passionate, freewheeling spirit to everything she does.
Her love for acting was obvious from an early age, and despite her parents’ warnings against it, the young Iyari paid for her own acting lessons by selling avocados from a friend’s tree. She got her first big break with a role on ER as a teenager and never looked back. Limon later landed a prime role in the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, playing a spirited slayer-in-training and romancing the beloved witch, Willow.
When Limon landed the role of Kennedy on Buffy, she knew that she would be playing a lesbian. But what she didn’t expect was the personal impact the role would have on her, that it would resurrect truths about her sexuality that she had tried to bury–although she had a brief marriage to fellow actor Efren Ramirez (Pedro in Napoleon Dynamite) at a very young age, Limon had once been involved with another girl as a teenager.
“When I was in high school, I had a best friend—I was 15—who fell in love with me and let’s just say there was some intimacy, but I got really scared,” Iyari told us, talking publicly for the first time about her sexuality. “I kind of pushed her away, I didn’t know what to do. I ended the friendship and I kind of wanted to forget it.”
“I got the role on Buffy, and when I got it I didn’t know where it was going. All I knew is that I was gay and I was flirting with Willow. And after I auditioned, my manager said, ‘You know you’re going to have to kiss a girl.’” She laughingly recalls, “And I said, ‘Well it’s a little late because I already auditioned so why are you even telling me?’”
As the character evolved, I did this whole biography on her and had to figure out her history, her past. When did she realize she was gay? What was her first sexual experience? I had to do all of that work on Kennedy, and to do that I had to go into places in myself and unlock things that I probably wouldn’t have ever done otherwise. I went, ‘You know what Iyari, if this is you, go figure it out and be true to who you are.’
As part of her research, Limon spent time with her gay friends in clubs, but, “nothing drew me. So I thought ‘This is great! At least I know I’m not gay, you know?’”
That sentiment flew out the window when Iyari met her girlfriend, DJ Sandra Edge (pictured with Limon, above), “I loved how she was just in her own little world, and she was so cute. I love androgyny, androgynous women. You know, short hair, really don’t have to wear a lot of make-up, pretty face, just cool and confident and know who they are.
“But for some reason, the really girly girls, with the long curly hair, always come up to me,” she laughed, “and I always wonder, ‘Why don’t the other ones like me?’”
“Finally one day I went up to her and started flirting with her. And that was it, we went home that night and my friend said, ‘Sandra just needs a distraction because her ex-girlfriend broke her heart and she’s been broken up for a year.’ And I thought, ‘Great! I’m her distraction. Beautiful! I love it!’” She laughed, “I didn’t want anything serious, she wanted a distraction. And before you know it one month goes by, two months go by…now it’s been 10 months and she’s great!”