QUEEN OF COOL

ELLE (Australia) - - Contents - PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY PAOLA KU­DACKI

Singer, ac­tress, style icon, rene­gade… Zoë Kravitz is our ul­ti­mate girl crush.

ZOË KRAVITZ

has the kind of mag­netism that prac­ti­cally shouts, “This woman is a star!” She’s dis­tract­ingly, other-worldly beau­ti­ful. She’s the spawn of two of the coolest peo­ple on the planet, Lisa Bonet and Lenny Kravitz. This is a girl who knows how to milk a step-and-re­peat in a slinky white Calvin Klein num­ber and a vo­lu­mi­nous rain­bow Dior gown with equal aplomb. And she’s a damn tal­ented ac­tress. Which is why, look­ing back, it’s amaz­ing to con­sider that for the bet­ter part of the past decade, she hov­ered in a kind of Hol­ly­wood up-and-comer limbo, play­ing sup­port­ing roles in block­busters like the Di­ver­gent movies, X-men: First Class and Mad Max: Fury Road (a pre-break­out part of sorts – she cer­tainly held her own in scenes with the also-so-beau­ti­ful-it’s-un­fair Rosie Hunt­ing­ton-white­ley). But in­evitably, thank­fully, 2017 hap­pened, and with it, Big Lit­tle Lies – HBO’S Emmy- and Golden Globe-crush­ing minis­eries in which Kravitz, 29, played the lu­mi­nous hip­pie-turned-hero Bon­nie. Now Kravitz – in her right­ful place on the A-list – is show­ing no signs of los­ing ground (she’ll soon ap­pear op­po­site Johnny Depp in the se­quel to the JK Rowl­ing-writ­ten Fan­tas­tic Beasts And Where To Find Them, for one). Kravitz’s friend Janelle Monáe is sim­i­larly versed in the art of the well-earned break­through, hav­ing released her first crit­i­cally ac­claimed EP back in 2003 but not reach­ing house­hold-name sta­tus un­til star­ring in (and singing on the sound­track of) 2016’s Hid­den Fig­ures. As the daugh­ter of a truck driver and a jan­i­tor, the 32-year-old Kansas City na­tive had a markedly dif­fer­ent up­bring­ing to Kravitz. Yet as ac­tress-singers (Kravitz fronts elec­tro-pop band Lo­la­wolf when she’s not mak­ing movies), style sa­vants and black women in the en­ter­tain­ment industry, Monáe and Kravitz have much in com­mon. Here, Monáe in­ter­views Kravitz for her ELLE cover story.

JANELLE MONÁE: Let’s start here: I saw you in the flesh for the first time in 2008 at Afrop­unk [fes­ti­val]. My band was play­ing, and maybe 20 peo­ple were in­vited. I re­mem­ber you danc­ing, and I was like, “Oh my God, Zoë Kravitz is in the front row of our show.”

ZOË KRAVITZ: I can’t be­lieve you knew who I was.

JM: Yes! And then your band El­e­va­tor Fight played.

ZK: Oh my God. Yes. My first band. JM: Lisa Bonet and Lenny Kravitz, your par­ents, are such cool in­di­vid­u­als. What was your child­hood like with them?

ZK: It’s funny, be­cause to ev­ery­one else, it’s like, “What are they like?” And I don’t have any­one else to com­pare them to. They were strict in the nor­mal ways – bed­times and eat­ing my veg­eta­bles and clean­ing my room and “Yes ma’am, no ma’am.” And then there was, of course, a bunch of ex­tra­or­di­nary parts: be­ing sur­rounded by ex­tra­or­di­nary peo­ple, go­ing to ex­tra­or­di­nary places. Also, peo­ple recog­nis­ing your fa­ther or your mum when you’re just go­ing to get ice­cream – it’s bizarre.

JM: What’s your an­swer to peo­ple who as­sume be­cause your par­ents are in­cred­i­bly creative, well-known and well­con­nected that every­thing has been handed to you?

ZK: I un­der­stand where that no­tion comes from 100 per cent. And there were some things that were handed to me. I got an agent pretty quickly out of high school. But once you get past that door – a hard door for a lot of peo­ple to open – a lot of di­rec­tors don’t care who your fam­ily is. When you’re do­ing movies with Jodie Foster or Char­l­ize Theron, you don’t need the daugh­ter of some celebrity to make the movie bet­ter. I spent years au­di­tion­ing and not work­ing and play­ing very small parts.

JM: We’re both mu­si­cians and ac­tors. Is there a dif­fer­ent way that you struc­ture your per­sona as a mu­si­cian than as an ac­tor?

ZK: Yes. For me – and this is dif­fer­ent than for you, be­cause you tour and you put out records; it’s not a side pro­ject – with mu­sic, I feel a lit­tle more vul­ner­a­ble. What you say or how you look on­stage is just you.

JM: Do you re­mem­ber that mo­ment when you said, “I want to be in movies”? I re­mem­ber watch­ing a lot of Ed­ward Scis­sorhands and other Tim Bur­ton films, and click­ing with the char­ac­ters.

ZK: I love that Tim Bur­ton was your gate­way. You should def­i­nitely be in a Tim Bur­ton film.

JM: It’s hard. He has made some com­ments. [In 2016, Bur­ton said of di­ver­sity in cast­ing: “Things ei­ther call for things or they don’t.”] I haven’t seen a lot of peo­ple of colour in his movies. When I was lit­tle, I was naive, but be­ing in the industry, we need to have a con­ver­sa­tion about that. I was dis­ap­pointed, but I’m still a fan of his movies.

ZK: It’s the same with Woody Allen, who I grew up lov­ing. You get older and re­alise, “Oh, you don’t put black peo­ple in your movies. It’s set in New York!” It’s just crazy. JM: What made you say, “I want to act”?

ZK: I didn’t grow up with tele­vi­sion. We had a TV, but it wasn’t con­nected to any­thing ex­cept for a VCR. My mum and I would go to the video store, and I was al­lowed to watch, like, one movie a week­end. I was an only child, and your imag­i­na­tion goes crazy. These films kind of became my friends. When I got older, my mum would show me, like, So­phie’s Choice. Like, “Want to see some crazy shit?”

JM: We have so much in com­mon. I also cre­ated these al­ter­nate uni­verses. We had TV, but I grew up in Kansas – a work­ing­class fam­ily where some­times our lights would be cut off. My sis­ter and I shared a room un­til it was time for me to go to col­lege. I’d be mak­ing up sto­ries and danc­ing, with her telling me to shut up, which made me want to sing and act more. You’ve re­cently been a part of Big Lit­tle

Lies. Con­gratu-fuck­ing-la­tions on that. A year ago, you told ELLE you were ner­vous about work­ing along­side such well-es­tab­lished ac­tresses. Has your con­fi­dence level changed since film­ing?

ZK: I got cast quickly, so I didn’t have time to process it, then all of a sud­den I was like, “Wait, I’m get­ting to work with who?” Women like Laura [Dern] and Ni­cole [Kid­man] and Reese [Wither­spoon] – I’ve grown up watch­ing them, and to me they’re just un­touch­able. I had night­mares about them be­ing like, “Oh no, you’re not good; you should go home.” But they were so en­cour­ag­ing. When those women are in your cor­ner, it gives you a pep in your step.

JM: Let’s get into some beauty, be­cause we’re speak­ing to ELLE. You’re this chameleon. And it doesn’t feel forced. When­ever I look on your In­sta­gram or see you on the red car­pet, it’s like its own genre – the Zoë Kravitz genre. How do you feed your evo­lu­tion as a style icon?

ZK: I re­mem­ber when my grand­mother died, and af­ter the fu­neral, I wanted to make my mum laugh. So I put on a suit, drew on a mous­tache, put on “The Boy Is Mine” by Brandy and Mon­ica, and per­formed as the boy. It was weird, but it made her crack up. For me, clothes are a gate­way to char­ac­ters. I watch Au­drey Hep­burn movies and I’m like, “I want to do my makeup like that.” I watch Stand By Me and I think, “I want to look like a boy.”

JM: When I got into the industry, peo­ple were telling me, “You’re a girl, so you need to show up in dresses and be a con­ven­tional artist.” And I, like you, wasn’t go­ing to al­low some­one to tell me that if I don’t do this, I won’t suc­ceed. The last time I saw you was around the Em­mys. How has your life changed this past year?

ZK: I got to spend a lot of time at home dur­ing the first half, which was a nice change. My boyfriend [ac­tor Karl Glus­man] moved in with me. That’s new ter­ri­tory. And I worked the sec­ond half of the year non­stop. I’m re­al­is­ing how im­por­tant it is to find a bal­ance so that I con­tinue be­ing an artist who has some­thing to offer.

JM: Peo­ple may not know this, but you and I have the same birth­day [De­cem­ber 1]! ZK: We’re birth­day sis­ters! JM: Yeah, birth­day twins, and there are ab­so­lutely a lot of sim­i­lar­i­ties that I’m like, “Wow.” We have a straight-up­ness that I don’t see a lot in this industry. It’s like, “I don’t want to be a bull­shit­ter.” Do you find that peo­ple can mis­take you for be­ing too cold at times?

ZK: Yeah, es­pe­cially in Amer­ica, and es­pe­cially as a woman in Amer­ica, and then es­pe­cially as a black woman in Amer­ica. It’s good to be po­lite, but it’s im­por­tant to be hon­est. There’s a dif­fer­ence be­tween say­ing hurt­ful things and be­ing like, “This may be a lit­tle un­com­fort­able, but no.” Or, “Please re­move your hand from my lower back.” Or, “You made a weird joke. Why did you make that joke?” JM: Ex­actly. Do you have il­le­gal fan­tasies? ZK: Il­le­gal? Like, I wish I could do that, but it’s il­le­gal? I would push Trump off a cliff. If it was le­gal, which it’s not, so I won’t, but if he was on a cliff and I was on the cliff, too, and it was le­gal, I might trip him.

JM: You’re so my birth­day twin. I want to talk about when you and I went to din­ner with a mu­tual friend. There were two guys sit­ting across from us talk­ing ex­tremely loud, like they were at a foot­ball game. One of the guys started to make re­marks about how our friend looked like The Weeknd... ZK: And how you were so cute and tiny. JM: And how I look like Kerry Wash­ing­ton – which, she’s gor­geous, but it was just so rude, the man­ner in which he did it. He glossed over the fact that we were hav­ing an in­ti­mate con­ver­sa­tion.

ZK: They were just a prime ex­am­ple of peo­ple like Trump, for who there are no rules – like, “I own every­thing, I can do what­ever I want.”

JM: So you turned to him and were like, “Lis­ten, buddy, please don’t in­ter­rupt our con­ver­sa­tion.” And he con­tin­ued. And I found out Zoë Kravitz is not to be fucked with. You got up and went to a host­ess...

ZK: I was like, “This dude needs to go!” They asked him to leave, and he gave me the finger and called me a c***.

JM: I just want to say thank you for not back­ing down to that nar­cis­sis­tic, ego­tis­ti­cal fuck man – he’s not a boy, he’s a man. He’s a bully. Which brings me to my next ques­tion: Har­vey We­in­stein. Was this a sur­prise to you?

ZK: It’s a sur­prise to me in that I did not know the specifics. Did I hear that he was a ques­tion­able per­son and feel that en­ergy from him when I met him? Of course. It’s like I’m shocked and not shocked – such a strange feel­ing. This world, es­pe­cially our industry, al­lows room for this kind of be­hav­iour from pow­er­ful men. You look at some­one like Har­vey or Trump or Bill Cosby. They’re all the best at what they do, in some way or an­other. And there’s a con­nec­tion with peo­ple who have zero re­gard for oth­ers and think that every­thing al­ready be­longs to them. Be­ing a woman in this industry, you’re asked to ride this line be­tween be­ing pro­fes­sional and al­low­ing a cer­tain level of flir­ta­tion. And if you’re not like, “Oh yeah, I’m gig­gling at your jokes, and it’s okay that your hand is on my thigh,” then you’re a bitch, you know? Where do we draw the line?

JM: Right. Have you ever had a mo­ment where you felt in­tim­i­dated [by a man at work]?

ZK: I had one mo­ment when I was 18 or 19 – on one of my first films. A direc­tor came on to me – and I al­most feel like I brushed it off as okay. I de­clined but didn’t han­dle it the way I would have han­dled it now. Know­ing that this is a grown-ass man with a fam­ily who knows I don’t have the power here – I’m an up-and-com­ing ac­tress and he’s an es­tab­lished direc­tor.

JM: Do you think it’s worse for black women in this industry when we speak up? We’re not get­ting the ma­jor­ity of roles out there, we’re not al­lowed cer­tain lead parts.

ZK: If you have any kind of op­pres­sion, it causes this fear, so if you’re a woman of colour, you’re al­ready on edge about, “Will I work again?” It just adds to why you can’t have a voice or make a scene.

JM: What I love most that is hap­pen­ing now is this sis­ter­hood that’s form­ing. How im­por­tant is sis­ter­hood to you in this industry?

ZK: So im­por­tant, es­pe­cially in an industry where the women are taught to com­pete with each other – and that is just poi­son.

JM: I didn’t un­der­stand the im­por­tance of sis­ter­hood un­til I got into the industry and started to feel alone. I felt like this creative black girl who was go­ing against the grain. Af­ter meet­ing you and hav­ing a big sis­ter like Erykah Badu, I feel like, “Wow, I’m not the only one.” I gen­uinely love you, Zoë, and a lot of these an­swers were be­yond the in­ter­view – there were things that I wanted to know.

ZK: Thank you for tak­ing the time to think about these ques­tions. All of it.

JM: Any­thing for you, sweetie pie.

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