Zoe Kravitz talks about being mixed race & racial stereotyping with Harper’s Bazaar

Harper's BAZAAR Oct '18 Cover_NS-1

I really can’t wait for the thick, bushy brow to be over. The trend has been happening for years, and I wish there was a new brow trend. That’s all I can think about when I’m looking at Zoe Kravitz’s Harper’s Bazaar cover. Bazaar is making a big deal about how these photos are not retouched, just FYI. Which I believe: Zoe looks like this. She’s gorgeous. Her skin is amazing. Her brows are on trend. She’s hanging out with wolves too. You can read the whole Bazaar piece here, and here are some highlights:

On shooting with wild wolves: “Funnily enough, I grew up with wolves. My mom [Lisa Bonet] loves them. When I was a kid, we had a half-wolf, half-husky and a malamute. I grew up with these big dogs, and they were my pals. So it wasn’t completely foreign to me, which is funny. Now my mom has two wolf dogs. They are like full-on wolves, they live in this big beautiful pen on the property, and she just has this wonderful connection with them. Her relationship with her animals goes way beyond considering them pets. They become her children.”

On appearing completely unretouched for Harper’s BAZAAR: “I was a little scared when they told me. What scared me most was that I was scared about it… [but after retouching] You’re like, ‘That is 100 percent not what I look like!’”

On speaking out against racial stereotyping in Hollywood: “I’m not necessarily trying to point the finger at anyone. I just want to make these writers, most of whom are probably white, aware of the things that affect me and likely affect other people as well. I’m trying to speak my mind and shift things so Hollywood can be more conscious about things. 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.”

On growing up biracial and her grandmother, Roxie Roker’s legacy of inspiring change: “When I got older I realized, ‘Oh, that’s why it was a big deal that my grandmother was married to a white man on the show [The Jeffersons].’ I had mixed parents, so I didn’t see it as a big deal. Then when I was educated about what the world was like, I was like, ‘This is a huge deal.’ It was brave of her to go there. I don’t think her intention was to shake things up. It was actually her truth: She was married to a white man.”

On the pros—and cons—of social media in regard to progressing representation: “Social media connects us in a beautiful way and holds people accountable for their actions, for their decision-making in casting or for an ignorant joke or story line. It’s great that there’s this big responsibility now, but at the same time I feel like social media is really dangerous because it becomes easy to point the finger at things. I think it makes artists afraid to take chances or to play something different than themselves because they’re going to be told that it’s inappropriate. As an actor, I find that scary.”

[From Harper’s Bazaar]

I have to say that I totally relate to growing up and not realizing that it was notable that my mom is white and my dad was Indian. They were just my parents and I understood that most of the people around me had two white parents, but I just shrugged and thought “well, everybody’s different.” It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I really began to understand how people still had strong feelings about “miscegenation” and the history of those miscegenation laws and more.

As for Zoe talking about the scripts she reads – what’s also offensive about “Stacy, perky” versus “Sarah, African-American” is that white screenwriters treat “African-American” like a character descriptor along the same lines as “perky” or “goth” or “jock.” It speaks volumes about the two-dimensional characters being created.


Photos courtesy of Camilla Akrans for Harper’s Bazaar, sent from promotional Bazaar email.

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62 Responses to “Zoe Kravitz talks about being mixed race & racial stereotyping with Harper’s Bazaar”

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  1. Derriere says:

    I want a wolf baby now. The photos look great!

  2. Xena says:

    Wolves are not dogs – they have very different needs ans should never be kept as pets. To picture them as trendy pets is dangerous for the animals.

    • sommolierlady says:

      Agree. I was disturbed by the fact her mom keeps a couple of wolves in a “big beautiful pen.” They are not domesticated pets, they are wild animals.

      Aside from that, her acting is really bad but she is very pretty.

      • Desolee says:

        Me too. But her mom probably takes care of them better than zoos care for Most animals if she thinks of them like her children

      • cannibell says:

        I have a friend whose family kept wolves. You need a permit and there are a lot of regulations – it’s not something to be entered into lightly.

    • KiddV says:

      I always thought it was illegal to keep a wolf or mixed wolf in California, which is where Lisa Bonet lives. Maybe they’ve changed the rules lately.

    • FilmTurtle says:

      That comment gave me pause, too. But they are probably domesticated wolves, rescued as puppies, something like that, and unable to live on their own in the wild.

    • minx says:

      Agree. And there are so many real dogs who need adopting.

      • jwoolman says:

        Dogs and wolves are actually considered the same species now. It isn’t obvious for most domestic dogs because humans have been messing with their genetics for thousands of years. But the domesticated dogs can interbreed naturally with wild wolves.

        Probably the first wolves to join in with humans were just more easily domesticated individuals for some genetic reason.

    • Adrien says:

      My uncle was given a baby fox by his colleague who told him it was a rare breed husky dog. When he took it home to surprise his young children the kids recognized the cub immediately as a baby fox. He couldn’t believe it until it howled. I remember that “husky” stayed with them for years like a domesticated pet, eating dog food and all. I remember playing with it. They couldn’t release into the wild for some reasons.

      • jwoolman says:

        Foxes do seem to be easily domesticated for some reason.

        They strike us as more like dogs, but they occupy a similar ecological niche as cats. So when humans go on the rampage to get rid of feral cats, they are often unhappy to discover that local foxes move in to take over the cats’ hunting grounds…. Silly humans.

    • phlyfiremama says:

      WOLVES ARE NOT PETS. If Lisa Bonet had “such an amazing connection” with them they wouldn’t have to live in PENS. I can’t with this nonsense~they are wild animals. Yes, dogs are descended from wolves~from 10,000 years ago, with hundreds of generations to become domesticated.

  3. Digital Unicorn says:

    I love her, she’s a good actress who I am looking forward to seeing what she does with her career. She doesn’t try hard to be anything which I like, unlike other actresses of her generation.

  4. Lightpurple says:

    Those pictures with the wolves are gorgeous.

    But wolves are not pets. They are not domesticated. They are not tamed. And we shouldn’t try to do that to them.

  5. C. Remm says:

    Since somebody said to me that Meghan DOS should support her African roots I have been thinking about all these classifications. Africa is a continent and not a race, first of all. Meghan was born in the US, she grew up in the US, she is no African-American, she is American. If you apply all these categories you have to do it completely. Irish-Americans, German-Americans, Italo-Americans and so on. And although Trump is a German-American, don’t even think about sending him back to Germany. We don’t want him either.

    • JoJo says:

      Yes Africa is a continent not a race or a country but because I am the descendant of enslaved people who were stolen and sold IDK with certainty where my ancestors were from.Most people can say their ancestors come from Germany or Italy or Japan or Denmark…I can’t say my 5th grandfather was from Ghana or some other African country because he was listed as some slave master’s property ,given a new name and stripped of his heritage.

      So I identify as African American to show my connection to the continent where my ancestors are from.Because I will never know for sure what countries in Africa they were from.

      • Me says:

        If you do a genetic test like ancestry.com, they will probably be able to give you more specifics about where you came from! It’s pretty miraculous!

      • ichsi says:

        @me these tests have proven to be total crap.

      • chinoiserie says:

        ichsi, the test have not been proved to be crap, have you been convinced by the racists who were alarmed by some tests showing unknown orgins that is occasionally vague? These people spread propaganda that the tests are untrustworthy.

        The tests only show likelihoods regarding desisases and such, and people move and always have so genetic testing does not have perfect sample sizes. But this does not mean they are total crap but that they need to understood.

    • Bettyrose says:

      I’m pretty sure people can refer to themselves however they want. If Meghan identifies as African-American to acknowledge a shared history and culture, that’s her call.

      The breakdown of European nationalities is not equivalent because most Europeans, even those fleeing oppressive and genocidal regimes, were allowed to maintain their cultural identities upon arrival in the U.S., whereas slaves were not. So the shared history is about common experiences in the U.S. among people of African ancestry rather than often unknown national origin.

      • Tina says:

        There is a very big difference between indentured servitude and slavery: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/17/us/irish-slaves-myth.html It is very harmful to equate the two. Most fundamentally, indentured servitude implies a contract between two people. Property, which enslaved people were considered, cannot enter into a contract.

      • bettyrose says:

        JadedBrit, that’s a fair point, and Irish Catholics were treated especially badly, but it could be argued that their descendants to this day have more knowledge of their national origins than do the descents of African slaves.

        It also isn’t uncommon to hear of a historical figure referred to as Irish-American, Italian-American, etc. Less common is “European-American,” likely because most of European ancestry have a clearer historical record of their heritage. Let’s not minimize the unique horrors of the African slave trade, especially in regards to erasing cultural history.

      • JadedBrit says:

        @Tina I’m aware that the situations were not identical – I’m referring more to https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Indentured_Servants_in_Colonial_Virginia#start entry – but am not, as you may note, equating the majority of experience with the absolute caesura, the schism that was slavery’s legacy.

      • Tina says:

        @JadedBrit, I would go much further and say that in virtually no cases can the experience of indentured servants, however painful, be equated to slavery (including the example you provide, which refers specifically to the contracts entered into).

    • based says:

      It’s clear that you don’t have an understanding of how race/ethnicity works in America. “African American” is an ethnicity. Black is a race. One can be both. And I know that in many parts of Europe they simply deal with this issue by pretending there is no issue, while Turkish Germans or Cameroonian French or Nigerian Italian people continue to be reminded that they are not quite white and certainly not quite European every day.

    • Isabelle says:

      Agree betty rose, people should be allowed (if they have that race in the misture) identify with that nationality or race. I’m mixed race, black, white, Italian, Jewish. Quite the combo. People more often than enough, ask “you’re not white are you, what are you”, and answer with “happy and mixed”.

    • C. Remm says:

      The person who said that to me was the half-sister under a new account so I did not know, who I was talking to. Anyhow, she meant this in a way, that if Meghan would show her African roots Harry would not have married her and since she tries to be white she is a racist.
      I have no solution, I wish it was in my power to stop racism. Yesterday I watched the documentary “South” from Chantal Ackermann. It left me sad, hopeless and angry.

      • Isabelle says:

        C. Remember America has been messed for a really longtime when it comes to race, people other than minorites are now finally waking up to it. Also, Harry knew Megan had a black parent and it didn’t matter. Confused as to why you say this when the white family member is the one they have isolated because he acted like an as*. They seem very accepting of Megans heritage.

      • JadedBrit says:

        @C.Remm You actually had contact with the loathsome Samantha Markle; and she said *what* about her former half-sister/the BRF???

    • notthisagain says:


      Why do you think it is yours or anyone else’s place to tell other people how they should identify ? Why is that your decision to make ?

    • Guest says:

      This is an interesting conversation. When I was in England, I was regularly asked if I was American to which I responded with “Yes, I am North American, from the Commonwealth country of Canada; I am not from the United States of America”. In England, It was all about the ‘Americans’….no, I am not South American, either. I am a North American from Canada.

      I was born in 1954; my parents divorced when I was 2 or 3 and I lived with my bio-mum, step-father, bio-sister, 3 x step-sisters and 1 x step-brother. When I was 7, my dad had two sons, my half-brothers. These days it’s not really a big deal, but in those days, it certainly was…though I didn’t truly understand why till I was well into my teens. We were different from the two-parent families we were surrounded with….

    • jwoolman says:

      Here in the US, we often do hyphenate ourselves. It’s part of who we are. I have no problem calling myself an Irish-American. People elsewhere may find that strange, but it’s always been normal for us. We still feel a connection to our immigrant ancestors that way.

      Anybody who runs around yelling that they are “just American!” often is of some kind of British heritage whose ancestors arrived long ago, and too often they think of themselves as the true Americans and the rest of us as just pesky interlopers. But actually even in colonial times, there were other Europeans here. English was not the only language used in the colonies. For example, German was under serious consideration as the national language at one point.

      People of African heritage who are not recent immigrants but rather their ancestors were kidnapped and brought here unwillingly will often just say African-American because they have ancestral roots in some areas of Africa but are likely mixes of various African ethnicities. It can be interesting to ask people actually from Africa what they think you look like, often they can see clues in your facial features that would not be meaningful to most Americans. Some people refer to themselves as European Americans for the same reason, but by that point they might just start saying “I’m part x and part y, with a little of xx and yy and z.”

      A lot of people have lost some knowledge of their ancestral ethnicities, hence the interest in those dna test kits. They’re not all that reliable for most ethnicities except from Europe, for lack of enough database input. Sometimes people have entirely the wrong assumption about their ancestry because the name was changed on entry by some dumb immigration official who couldn’t spell the original names. If the immigrants were illiterate or just tired, they wouldn’t have pushed the point.

  6. HelloSunshine says:

    I’m mixed. I didn’t realize it was “unusual” to have one black parent and one white parent until some old white man came up and asked my mother what she was doing with those n-word kids. I was young, holding my mom’s hand and had no idea what the word meant.

    It really sunk in as I got older and grew up in a mostly white community. It really shouldn’t be something that’s a big deal but the world we live in still has people who see it as problematic 🙄

    • Susannah says:

      I’m biracial with my mother being black and my dad white. I happen to look white like my dad and my brother and sister look black like my mom. People used to argue with us about being related all the time.Strangers in the line at the grocery store would just comment on us, ask my mom who the dads were since we looked so different or if she was their mother but my nanny. For some reason people just think they can comment on biracial families, even give their opinion to your face on whether they think it’s acceptable or not! It’s bizarre and exhausting.

      • Tracy says:

        My friend is from Liberia and her husband is polish. People usually assume my friend is the nanny. You should see the looks when her son yells Mom

      • VirgiliaCoriolanus says:

        You must be my older sister—there are five of us, all mixed race……mos of us look white, and we used to have classmates ask us if we were “full”/real brothers and sisters.

    • Yup, Me says:

      Damn! What did your mother say to that old man?

    • indian says:

      Gosh.. I feel so sad on behalf of you and your mother having to experience that.

  7. Bettyrose says:

    Wouldn’t another word for bushy eyebrows be just eyebrows? I’m grateful that at least one trend requires no deliberate effort.

  8. Ann says:

    I love this full brow thing, no more tweezing! I plucked away for hours in the early 2000s for those stupid skinny sperm brows and it sucked. Never again!

    • Darla says:

      I will never give up my bushy brows either, it no longer matters what the “trend” is. I’m set.

      • indian says:

        Me neither. We forget that the eyebrows protect the eyes. It’s just like manicure. I don’t understand why women’s beauty regimens place them at health risks.

    • minx says:

      My brows are not full, they’re just scraggly. I need to shape them a bit or my eyes look sunken.
      If I had lush full brows I wouldn’t mess with them.

    • Alyssa Calloway says:

      I would kill for my brows to be natural (or as Kaiser says “bushy”) again. They never came back from when I was a teen and plucked the hell out of them. And I didn’t even go as far as some of my friends where they just had a single line of hair over each eye.

      I love the thicker brow but some people obviously don’t. But I don’t think anyone should have to worry about their eyebrows being trendy. So whether they want them thin or full…go for it.

  9. Ben says:

    That is one beautiful woman.

  10. Rainbow says:

    I love her brows.. They look great.

    Sorry Kaiser but I think bushy eyebrows look nicer and more youthful than thin eyebrows in general. I am glad that they are on trend 👌

  11. Boxy Lady says:

    My parents and I are all military brats. A number of my parents’ siblings went into the military too and met their spouses overseas. I am black, not mixed raced, but I have a number of mixed race cousins (half Korean, half white, half Latino). I grew up on and around military bases and nearly all of my mixed raced friends growing up (and there were a good number of them) were from military families as well. It wasn’t until I got older and had gone beyond my military life bubble that I realized how racially homogeneous most other people’s families were. I get where Zoe is coming from about her grandmother even though I am old enough to remember watching The Jeffersons on TV as a kid.

    As for the eyebrows: thin and sparse eyebrows age your face. That is NOT a trend I would want to follow, thanks.

  12. TJ says:

    Luckily there are more and more writers of color now.
    But again, who’s stoping POC from creating their own stories? You don’t even need to be “given opportunity” by a white CEO or a publishing house – you can gain popularity and sell copies online. The time to shine is now.

    • Lanne says:

      No one is stopping anyone from telling a story, and no, POC are not sitting around waiting for permission to tell their stories. But what happens when, as a filmmaker, you pitch your story to a room full of white men who say “I don’t understand your story” or “who will relate to it” (b/c they can’t imagine a relatable scenario w/POC) or worse, “we green lighted a film about black women 18 years ago. We already covered that topic”. Or “why does everything have to be about race” in response to, say, a story about airline pIlots whose lead happens to be a POC

      • Lilly says:

        I remember Sherman Alexie saying when his book Smoke Signals was being turned into a movie, the execs really wanted to make them all the Natives white. Luckily he still held the rights.
        p.s. the question I get most from White people about Smoke Signals is “why do they always drive their car backwards?”

    • Isabelle says:

      If you believe POC have as much power as white people in this country, oh boy Felicia.

    • BaeBae says:

      Thanks for the advice, TJ! We’ll try harder.

  13. Keaton says:

    I think she actually pulls off the bushy brows better than most female celebs. I also like her comment about social media. Very thoughtful.

  14. JadedBrit says:

    My G-d, she is so staggeringly beautiful. Probably irrelevant to the discussion at hand, but she has the kind of arresting quality that smacks you between the eyes and demands you pay attention.

  15. DesertReal says:

    She’s gorgeous and I love a good (yet well groomed/shaped) thick eyebrow. It’s youthful (there’s no way pencil thin doesn’t age a person if their features aren’t in proportion to their brows) and frames more faces better than the alternative. I’ve only recently started to define mine with more of an arch, and if they weren’t thinning I’d keep them fuller/thicker too.
    Then again, I have large eyes/lips, so maybe that’s why I favor a fuller eyebrow?

  16. Lilly says:

    Simply beautiful.

  17. Trout says:

    Sorry to say, but you can’t have it all ways. I’m a writer. If I don’t note in my character description that someone is African-American, Asian, Indian… then it’s likely that a white person will be cast. If it’s important, you don’t leave it to other people (ie casting agents, studios, etc) to trust that they will cast a diverse film. I would rather write “Kathy: perky, Hispanic”, and actually get a Hispanic girl, than get white Kathy because I didn’t want to offend the exact Hispanic girl that should have been cast. It’s a work in progress but the ladies who write this site are rather quick to condemn a business that is making progress every day.

    • ... nik. says:


    • notthisagain says:

      That is not the point that she is making oftentimes the description Hispanic, Asian, African American is the only descriptor of the character as if POC are monolith devoid of a unique personality , they do not get the individuality of being human the way the white characters are who are given all sorts of descriptors and profiles i.e Goth, Emo . Nerdy , Loner Type A , carefree, Stuck up etc
      All we need is Girl A to be Black or Asian and thats it