While we’re on the topic of Zoe Saldana wearing blackface to play Nina Simone, the other Zoe (Kravitz) wants to talk about the stereotypical roles being offered to black women before they even make it to production.
Kravitz has managed to land a variety of parts in major films, including the Divergent franchise, Dope and Mad Max: Fury Road. No surprise, though, she’s had to deal with a ton of typecasting along the way. In an interview with the Associated Press to promote Allegiant, Kravitz says she’s fought against being pigeonholed into a stereotype.
“People have tried to do that to me over and over again and I’ve been fighting it and fighting it,” she says. “I would get auditions and it would be like ‘they want you to play the best friend.’ And it’s like ‘why can’t I audition for the lead?’ Then it’ll be like ‘OK now you’re the quirky black girl,’ or ‘now you’re a hippie.’ I can play all kinds of people. I don’t have to play myself.”
Kravitz has faith in the industry, thanks in part to a poignant early experience in one of her first films — the 2007 Jodie Foster and Terrence Howard film “The Brave One.”
“(My role) was written for a blonde white Russian girl. I was like ‘I’ll audition for it anyway,’” she said. “It changed (director Neil Jordan’s) mind about how he saw that role.”
If that’s what Zoe has to struggle with as someone with a famous last name and lighter skin, imagine the headache for actresses shades darker than her. While placing the typecasting blame on the movie makers, Zoe also thinks minorities need to create our own opportunities and actors need to decline stereotypical roles. The problem, she notes, is that “actors gotta eat” (which is a big part of this cyclical system) and, she says, “This industry is not colorblind, but I think actors can be.”
Hmm. On the plus side, she’s glad people are taking notice and talking about Hollywood’s prejudices.
“I love the fact that there’s such an open dialogue right now about women in Hollywood and black women and black men in Hollywood and everything in between,” says Kravitz. “Now it’s about us bringing the change. We started the dialogue but I don’t expect any man to write a script that speaks for me. I don’t expect any man to write a script for me. I think we need to do that. If we want to be represented properly in Hollywood, let’s represent ourselves properly in Hollywood.”
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