Zoë Kravitz grew up in the spotlight and has cultivated her career as a performer, model, and actress. As the beautiful spawn of rock star Lenny Kravitz and real-life goddess Lisa Bonet, Zoë has a unique perspective on the industry and has advocated for racial and ethnic diversity on- and offscreen.
In a recent interview with Allure, the 28-year-old actress was quite candid about the challenges she has faced in the entertainment industry — specifically, combating racist stereotypes and prejudices.
“As an actress, I get told all the time, ‘You can’t have this role because you’re black,’” she told the publication. “When you read a script, usually they’ll describe the character, and they won’t put ‘Caucasian’ most of the time, but then when someone’s meant to be black or Asian or Indian, they’ll put that in. So you’re supposed to assume that everyone else is white.”
However, she doesn’t take Hollywood’s problematic assumptions of race personally, even when she is typecast for other roles simply because she is a fairer-skinned African-American. In fact, she uses it to show people African-Americans shouldn’t be boxed in. “It doesn’t make me not want to be the color that I am, but when people think, OK, you should play this kind of role because of the color of your skin, it’s crazy. I think I have changed people’s minds about roles. I’ve gotten roles that were for a white blonde. The best thing we can do is try to teach people this doesn’t have to be like that.”
Kravitz goes on to address other racial problems in the industry, like finding hairdressers who can effectively do African-American hair. “I’ve also had experiences where I’ll be on a shoot, and there will be a well-known hair [stylist] who doesn’t really know how to do black hair. So I’ll bring someone that does, and that person will really do all the work — [but] the other person gets the credit. It happens a lot, to a lot of black hairstylists, because that [other] person is famous and works out of Paris or whatever. [One] person does all the work, and the other person gets the credit. It’s really sad.”
While the racial stigmas and lack of diversity in Hollywood may seem disheartening, Zoë knows that the first step for change is educating and teaching people that entertainment doesn’t have to be partisan. Besides, the near future is looking to be more diverse than our past, and Kravitz believes media should definitely reflect the times. “When you watch movies that take place in the future and everyone’s white, like Aryan nation, I’m just like, ‘Everyone’s gonna be mixed in the future. What’s wrong with you people?’”
We hear you, Zoë.
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