Zoë Kravitz Used To Take Flak For How She Looked. What’s Changing For Black Women In Hollywood

Zoe Kravitz in Gemini.
(Image credit: Neon/Stage 6 Films)

Countless people out there dream of making it to Hollywood and being a star of the small and silver screens. But the reality of the industry has a number of notable downsides, including in the way one’s looks are commodified and how that can affect self-confidence. And for actors of color, they often face microagressions on top of that pressure. Case in point: Zoë Kravitz used to take flak for how she looked. But she also explained what’s changing for Black women in Hollywood.

Over the last few years there’s been a ton of conversation around inclusion in the entertain industry, and the importance and power of representation across the board. Since then there’s been positive change to make sets a less toxic place, although there are plenty of Hollywood horror stories out there. Zoë recently spoke to Elle about her career, including times she’s heard comments about her signature microbraids. As she put it,

[Pre-George Floyd], I was constantly just fighting [about my hair] and being asked to change it. I would do a shoot, and this still happens to be honest, where they’ll say, ‘Can you take your braids out? Because we want to do something else.’ And I always reply, ‘Pretend this is the way it grows out of my head. You don’t ask people that have long blonde hair to change their hair every time they do a shoot.’ It’s interesting that I’m often asked to pop them braids out. Do you know how long this takes? And it’s also the way I wear my hair.

This is no doubt just one insensitive comment that Zoë Kravitz has had to deal with in her years as an an actress and model. Throughout this interview she spoke about trying to stay true to herself in an industry that was trying to make her conform into certain beauty standards. And that includes insensitive comments about her iconic microbraids.

As Zoë Kravitz points out, these comments about her hair came from people who clearly don’t understand how braids words. As she also shared with Elle, Kravitz will spend up to 12-15 hours getting her hair done, which she’s found to be a great excuse to stay home for a day and turn off the rest of the world. It’s not as simple as “taking them out”

Later in that same interview,  Zoë Kravitz also spoke to the positive change that’s been happening for Black women in Hollywood. Although on the other hand, the Big Little Lies actress sees the work that still needs to be done to continue towards progress. As she put it,

I think there’s more of a consciousness around making sure that Black women, Black people, get to be a part of stories that go beyond stories about being Black, and then also finding ways to bring that truth into a story. For a long time, it was about being—if it was a Black woman, with a white man, it was about that, you know what I mean? It couldn’t just be a love story between two people. I think that’s really exciting. And ways I would like [the industry] to continue to grow—I want more Black directors. I want more Black female directors. In terms of telling our story, I would be excited to work with more Black female directors. So let’s make more room for that.

There’s definitely been an ongoing conversation about diversity for directors, as the industry has historically been dominated by white men. This year’s Academy Awards nominated exlcusively men for Best Director, notably snubbing Women Talking’s Sarah Polley and The Woman King’s Gina Prince-Bythewood. For her part, Zoë Kravitz thinks the industry needs to make more space for Black directors, especially Black women.

It should be interesting to see what comes next for Zoë Kravitz. She’s presumably going to have a role in The Batman 2 which is currently in development. There are some fans who are still hoping for Big Little Lies Season 3 as well. In the meantime, check out the 2023 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience. 

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.