“I WANT to RE­MIND PEO­PLE THAT a BLACK WO­MAN with TAT­TOOS DOESN’T HAVE to JUST PLAY an ARTIST”

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The seven-part series is based on the suc­cess­ful Aus­tralian novel of the same name. Re­leased in 2O17, it fol­lows a group of rich Mon­terey women played by Nicole Kid­man, Laura Dern, Reese Wither­spoon and Shai­lene Wood­ley as they un­cover a series of un­com­fort­able truths about their com­mu­nity, and ex­plores rape, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and mur­der. It was an in­stant phe­nom­e­non and went on to win eight Em­mys.

Zoë’s char­ac­ter, a zen, clean-eat­ing yoga in­struc­tor, is an es­sen­tial role. It is she who, at the end of the first series, is able to of­fer cathar­sis after an abu­sive man’s be­hav­iour is un­cov­ered. The show de­buted just one month after the in­au­gu­ra­tion of Don­ald Trump, and its mes­sage of fe­male unity seemed to res­onate with au­di­ences in need of a de­pic­tion of jus­tice against badly be­haved men. ‘That was some­thing peo­ple wanted: women stand­ing up for them­selves and stand­ing up for each other,’ she says. ‘There was some kind of col­lec­tive con­scious­ness go­ing on, be­cause the Me Too move­ment hap­pened right after.’

Zoë has be­come in­creas­ingly po­lit­i­cal since Trump’s win, par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Women’s March in Los An­ge­les the day after the in­au­gu­ra­tion, ral­ly­ing for gun safety and cam­paign­ing to keep im­mi­grant fam­i­lies to­gether. She fre­quently uses In­sta­gram to speak out against what she feels is wrong: ‘I like that peo­ple have been tak­ing to the streets.’

To hear Zoë tell it, the vibe on the sec­ond-sea­son set for Big Lit­tle Lies has a sim­i­lar kind of sol­i­dar­ity to the move­ments that have sprung up in the past year. De­but­ing in March, the series will fea­ture Meryl Streep and re­port­edly fo­cuses more on Zoë’s char­ac­ter’s own his­tory of abuse. She is silent about the plot, but gushes about get­ting to watch and learn from le­gendary women, pay­ing at­ten­tion to Streep’s ap­proach: ‘You don’t see the ef­fort in her act­ing. She’s not tak­ing it too se­ri­ously; she’s just try­ing to be truth­ful in the mo­ment.’ Zoë has also been tak­ing pow­er­house point­ers from ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers Nicole Kid­man and Reese Wither­spoon; Reese in par­tic­u­lar has been an ad­vo­cate for women find­ing, cul­ti­vat­ing and fight­ing for strong roles both in front of and be­hind the cam­era. Zoë has re­cently writ­ten a script (again, she doesn’t want to re­veal any de­tails yet) and shown it to Reese. ‘She’s giv­ing me notes.’

Zoë says she is ded­i­cated to the idea of cre­at­ing her own projects (writ­ing, di­rect­ing), as she’s been dis­ap­pointed by the roles of­fered to black women. She’s re­alised that if she wants things to change, she’s go­ing to have to change them her­self: ‘You read scripts and you’re like, “Where is my story?” Of­ten, the parts writ­ten for women are ac­ces­sories to men’s sto­ries, and parts writ­ten for any kind of mi­nor­ity are an ac­ces­sory to a white per­son’s story. A script will point out that a char­ac­ter is African-Amer­i­can, and you know how she’s go­ing to talk. She’s go­ing to add some at­ti­tude or some­thing. It’s just about cre­at­ing char­ac­ters for women and peo­ple of colour who feel like real peo­ple, who feel com­pli­cated and hon­est – not just be­ing used to fur­ther a white per­son’s story.’ This some­times means play­ing a cool witch, as she does in this year’s

Fan­tas­tic Beasts se­quel. ‘She’s im­por­tant in the story and an out­cast in her own way,’ Zoë says. ‘She’s dan­ger­ous; she’s bad. I want to re­mind peo­ple that a black wo­man with tat­toos doesn’t have to just play an artist.’ Zoë got to meet JK Rowl­ing (‘She’s very jokey’), who wrote the script as a pre­quel to the Harry Pot­ter series. ‘I’ve worked with CGI be­fore, but this is just... a uni­verse. I love the magic.’ Yes, she is po­lit­i­cal and se­ri­ous, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still a need to sit in a dark the­atre and leave be­hind the earth’s ills. ‘It’s es­capism,’ says Zoë. ‘Es­pe­cially where we are right now. It’s nice to for­get about the world for a minute.’

She finds fri­vol­ity fun, and en­joys dress­ing up for the red car­pet – even when it takes her out of her day-to-day at­tire and into a slinky, black lace Saint Lau­rent evening dress slit high to the hip bone, as she fa­mously wore to the Met Gala last year (Zoë is a brand am­bas­sador). She loves jew­ellery, and to­day has mul­ti­ple gold hoops in her ears and two gold chains around her neck. Her style icon is Nineties Brad Pitt, and her wardrobe is a mix of her mum’s bo­hemian free spirit­ed­ness and her dad’s rocker vibes. She got her first tat­too at 18 (her par­ents re­quested she wait un­til then) and now has many, in­clud­ing DIY stick-and-pokes given to her by friends and the dates of each par­ent’s birth on her hands. She makes fun of her hippy per­sona, too, say­ing that ev­ery­one as­sumes she’s ve­gan by the way she looks (she isn’t, though her mother is).

Re­fresh­ingly, Zoë doesn’t pre­tend (the way some ac­tors do) to be un­aware of how her looks are per­ceived, but rather takes the com­pli­ment, see­ing it as part of a jour­ney in hard-won con­fi­dence. ‘Peo­ple come up to me on the street and tell me I’m beau­ti­ful, and yet I still feel inse­cure,’ she says. ‘It’s im­por­tant to be hum­ble, but I also want to feel beau­ti­ful. I want to love my­self. That en­ergy af­fects your health.’

So, what does the fu­ture hold for Zoë Kravitz? For one, maybe mar­riage with Karl. But she is prac­ti­cal about things: ‘I’m a child of di­vorce, so I have to be re­al­is­tic. I think I love the idea of at­tempt­ing to work through the hard­est times and re­ally show up for your part­ner. To put in work.’ She says the pol­i­tics of to­day make her un­sure of whether or not to bring chil­dren into an un­cer­tain world (and watch­ing The

Hand­maid’s Tale hasn’t helped). ‘I’m scared for my­self, you know?’ Zoë looks to both her black and Jewish her­itages for re­silience. ‘Jews and African-Amer­i­cans have had so much pain, car­ried so much on their shoul­ders, and come so far.’

As her ca­reer soars, Zoë says tak­ing the New York sub­way now some­times in­volves peo­ple tak­ing a sneak pic­ture of her on their phone, which makes her un­com­fort­able. When I ask if the prospect of ven­tur­ing even fur­ther into the won­der­land of Hol­ly­wood mega-star­dom con­flicts with her de­sire to stay hum­ble – or, to bor­row a worn-out cliché, keep it real – she doesn’t worry. ‘Even if I’m do­ing a big-bud­get movie that’s a ma­chine to make money, I’m still try­ing to be hon­est in the mo­ment in the scene,’ Zoë says res­o­lutely. ‘I don’t want to ever feel like I’m fak­ing it.’ From the out­side look­ing in, it seems she won’t have to.

Fan­tas­tic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindel­wald is in cin­e­mas from 16 Novem­ber

“YOU READ SCRIPTS and you’re LIKE ‘WHERE is MY STORY?’ OF­TEN the PARTS are AC­CES­SORIES to MEN ”

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