Zoë Kravitz Talks Making Art, Internalized Racism and The Dark Knight Rises Not “Going Urban”
Mad Max: Fury Road‘s Zoë Kravitz is one of the most intriguing and talented stars out there right now, kicking ass on film and in the music industry as she fronts her band, Lolawolf. What really makes her interesting is how self-aware she is. While some young stars with famous parents – take Willow and Jaden Smith, for instance – don’t ever seem to acknowledge the privilege in their lives, Kravitz is the exact opposite. She knows exactly how privileged she is, and while she’s not ashamed of the family she was born into, she’s conscious of making sure that she doesn’t rest on her laurels. In an awesome interview in the August issue of Nylon Magazine, Kravitz talks about growing up the mixed-race child of famous parents (Lisa Bonet and Lenny Kravitz) and what it means to her to be a woman of color in the entertainment industry.
On dealing with internalized racism:
As one of few black kids in her predominately white school, she remembers saying things like, “I’m just as white as y’all,” to her classmates. “I identified with white culture, and I wanted to fit in,” she says. “I didn’t identify with black culture, like, I didn’t like Tyler Perry movies, and I wasn’t into hip-hop music. I liked Neil Young.” But as time went on, her views shifted. “Black culture is so much deeper than that,” she says, “but unfortunately that is what’s fed through the media. That’s what people see. That’s what I saw. But then I got older and listened to A Tribe Called Quest and watched films with Sidney Poitier, and heard Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. I had to un-brainwash myself. It’s my mission, especially as an actress.”
A big tenet of this undertaking involves choosing roles that don’t focus on her race. “I don’t want to play everyone’s best friend,” she explains. “I don’t want to play the role of a girl struggling in the ghetto. It’s not that that story isn’t important, but I saw patterns and was like, ‘I don’t relate to these people.’” Kravitz’s agent knows not to pass her scripts where her race is a key factor. But there has been one exception: the Sundance darling Dope. “It hit all the points that I believe in,” she says of the hilarious film about a crew of geeky punk- and ’90s-hip-hop-loving teens growing up in Inglewood, California. “I know those people,” she says. “I got the sense of humor.”
On her stupid experience trying to audition for The Dark Knight Rises:
“In the last Batman movie [The Dark Knight Rises], they told me that I couldn’t get an audition for a small role they were casting because they weren’t ‘going urban,’” she says. “It was like, ‘What does that have to do with anything?’ I have to play the role like, ‘Yo, what’s up, Batman? What’s going on wit chu?’”
On creating art because of, and in spite of, privilege:
Kravitz, who studied acting at Purchase College in upstate New York, is the first to admit that certain things, like getting representation, have come easily because of her famous folks. “I’m hyper-aware that people are judging me based on who my parents are,” she says. But this only makes her want to sharpen her skills more. “You book jobs like Mad Max because of you and not because of your dad,” she says. “George Miller doesn’t fucking care who my parents are.” Still, she’s felt pressure to measure up to their talent. “There was a point in my teens where I was very selfconscious and didn’t want to make any music because I would get compared to my dad,” she says. “But I knew I was working hard. I’m not a fucking genius, but I know who I am as an artist. The one thing about art is you can’t question it. Everyone is looking at everyone else to find out what’s cool. No one knows what’s cool. Just do it with confidence—no one can take that away from you.”
Check out the rest of the interview (as well as some awesome photos showing off Kravitz’s killer style) in the August issue of Nylon. What do you think of the talented Ms. Kravitz?
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