Zoë Kravitz’s next role was written for a man, and here’s why that matters
It’s no secret that Hollywood still lacks diversity both on screen and behind the scenes. And when characters who aren’t straight, white men are portrayed, they’re all too often reduced to stereotypes. That’s why we love the fact that Zoë Kravitz was just cast in a role originally written for a man.
In an interview published in Harper’s Bazaar on September 13th, Kravitz talked to her Big Little Lies costar Reese Witherspoon about stereotyping in the industry, and how she’s starting to see incremental change. She cited the fact that her next role was initially meant for a man, but nothing about the character was changed once she came on board (in other words, the character wasn’t made more delicate, fragile, or stereotypically feminine).
"I think it’s so cool that they didn’t feel the need to change it," she said.
Kravitz went on to note that she doesn’t think her appearance should limit the kinds of roles she’s offered.
"I as a black woman with braids and tattoos shouldn’t only be able to play a hippie; I should also be able to play a lawyer or a doctor or a comedian or whatever it is!" she said. "Gay, straight, all the things. We should start opening our minds about what it looks like to be a person living in 2018."
The actress said that she never saw anyone who looked like her in movies or on TV when she was growing up. “Am I alone out here? Am I not desirable or interesting?” she recalled wondering.
She added that as an adult, she’s tried to bring awareness of this issue to writers—especially white writers.
"I’m trying to speak my mind and shift things so Hollywood can be more conscious about things," she said. "My biggest pet peeve is when I read scripts that have character descriptions like 'Stacy, 22, perky,' then you get four pages in and see, 'Sarah, 22, African-American,' which makes it clear that everyone else is white."
Kravitz’s latest role is a promising sign. It suggests that writers and casting directors are starting to think outside of racial and gender stereotypes when selecting actors. We’re grateful to Kravitz and others like her who fight for change, and we hope the industry continues to take note.