Alia Shawkat talks N-word controversy: 'Oh God, to the public I'm a racist who's living with Brad Pitt'

Alia Shawkat had an awful thought earlier this month, after watching a 2016 video of herself saying the N-word while quoting a Drake lyric, in an interview that resurfaced online in the midst of widespread conversations about race and racism.

“I was like, ‘Oh God, to the public I’m a racist who’s living with Brad Pitt,’” Shawkat told Vulture just after she issued a public apology. “The last 48 hours have been me trying to reground myself spiritually. And being like, ‘What is this about? Who are you to yourself, to your people and your community?’”

The Search Party star, a queer woman of color who supports the Black Lives Matter movement, said she didn’t remember having said the word.

“I was like, ‘That’s impossible. What the f*** are they talking about?’” Shawkat said.

Alia Shawkat opens up about her apology for using a racial slur. (Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images)
Alia Shawkat opens up about her apology for using a racial slur. (Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

In her apology, she said she was “deeply sorry” and that she was “ashamed and embarrassed.”

Looking back, she said the experience was “humbling in an intense way.” It led her to think about her own background, with an Iraqi father and a white mother, and the privilege she had benefitted from.

“I think I’ve learned more about it in these last two weeks than I have in my whole life,” Shawkat said.

Elsewhere, Shawkat dismissed the idea that she ever dated Pitt. They’re “just friends,” introduced by director Spike Jonze. But she confirmed that the frenzied media coverage of them, as they were photographed out together several times, was relentless.

“All my friends were like, ‘What’s going on?’ and sending me photos,” Shawkat said. “I just felt overwhelmed. It’s that feeling of being naked in school, like, ‘Oh my God, everyone’s looking at me.’”

Especially uncomfortable were the types of headlines written about them, which implied it was a big surprise that the A-list actor would be interested in the Arrested Development alum.

“To them it’s like, ‘We don’t get it! This girl is weird! She’s so different! Why are they hanging out?’ ” Shawkat said with a laugh. “You get too close to the prom king, and all of a sudden, everyone’s like, ‘Well, who is this b****?’”

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