Zoe Kravitz hopes her role in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald encourages the casting of black actresses in versatile parts.
The 29-year-old plays the part of Leta Lestrange in the upcoming fantasy film, which serves as a prequel to the Harry Potter series. Her character comes from a historically wealthy and pureblood family famous for the Dark Arts, and once held the affections of Newt Scamander, who is portrayed by Eddie Redmayne in the flick. For Zoe, it's refreshing to play a character who is relevant to the story in their own right, as opposed to a lazy racial stereotype.
"She’s important in the story and an outcast in her own way," she explains in a cover interview for Elle U.K.'s December issue. "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."
The Big Little Lies star is often disappointed by the sort of roles typically offered to black actresses, and is dedicated to creating her own projects as a writer or director in order to broaden the offerings.
"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," she sighs. "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."
As for filming Fantastic Beasts, which also stars Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Katherine Waterston, Zoe insists it's like nothing she's ever previously filmed.
"I’ve worked with CGI before, but this is just... a universe. I love the magic," she smiles.