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Zoë Kravitz Stars in WSJ. Magazine Fall 2022 Women’s Fashion Issue

Zoë Kravitz talks about her directorial debut Pussy Island, uncompromising artistic vision, working with Channing Tatum, and more

Zoë Kravitz
Photography © Campbell Addy for WSJ. Magazine

Actress, musician, and director Zoë Kravitz takes the cover story of WSJ. Magazine‘s Fall 2022 Women’s Fashion edition lensed by fashion photographer Campbell Addy. In charge of styling was Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, with set design from King Owusu. Beauty is work of hair stylist Nikki Nelms, makeup artist Nina Park, and manicurist Aki Hirayama.

Zoë Kravitz on Pussy Island’s title:

The title is intentionally provocative. It was the first thing that came to her when she started writing the script five years ago, before the #MeToo movement shook up Hollywood. “The title came from that world. The title is the seed of the story,” she says. While other projects have had their titles truncated – last spring’s The Lost City losing the of D, or Starz taking away P-Valley’s “ussy” – Kravitz says she won’t budge: “It represents this time where it would be acceptable for a group of men to call a place that, and the illusion that we’re out of that time now.”

Zoë Kravitz on her parents:

“They always remind me, ‘Why are we making art?’. “‘You’re making [art] for yourself because you feel something that you want to express.’”

Kravitz on casting Channing Tatum:

“I wanted to find someone who hadn’t played a dark character before, because I think that’s exciting to watch someone who’s mostly played boy next door, good guy, love interest, all of that.”

“I felt, even from afar, before I knew him, that he was a feminist and that he wasn’t afraid of exploring that darkness, because he knows he’s not that. That’s why I was drawn to him and I wanted to meet with him. And I was right.”

Zoë Kravitz
Photography © Campbell Addy for WSJ. Magazine
Zoë Kravitz
Photography © Campbell Addy for WSJ. Magazine

Channing Tatum on Kravitz casting him in Pussy Island:

“It’s always really intriguing to have someone bring you something that literally no one else has ever thought of you for.”

Tatum on the script of Pussy Island:

“I didn’t know Zoë before I met her for the film,” says Tatum, whose company, Free Association, is co-producing the project. “When we first met the movie was pretty different than its form now, but the themes were the same. All the iterations it has gone through were all pretty punk rock, to be honest.”

Kravitz on directing:

“I’m learning a lot about what it takes to make a movie and how many fires are constantly being put out before the actors show up to set,” she says. “I’m just kind of sitting back and learning and trying to not constantly be in a state of panic.”

“If you zoom out too much and think about the whole thing at once, it causes a lot of anxiety,” she says, “but if you focus on the present moment, it’s really fun.”

Kravitz on her insecurities:

“I really didn’t feel beautiful growing up,” she says of her upbringing between California, Miami and eventually New York. “A big part of that was where I grew up, who I was around in terms of being the only Black girl,” she says. “I wasn’t exotic and cool- looking. I was the weirdo with the fuzzy hair. Then, you grow up and you look different now. It’s weird because it’s not really how I identify. I think a lot of people probably will hear that and think that’s bullshit, but that’s just how I feel,” she continues. “Even with directing, I think to myself, OK, I’m not going to be in a movie for a year. I hope we make another Batman. It’s just the sickness of the mind where I genuinely can convince myself that I won’t work again, that no one will call me and want me. That never goes away.”

Zoë Kravitz
Photography © Campbell Addy for WSJ. Magazine
WSJ. Magazine
Photography © Campbell Addy for WSJ. Magazine

Steven Soderbergh on Kravitz:

“She’s a real thoroughbred and a bona fide movie star,” says Soderbergh. He uses Kimi as an example: “She’s in 96 percent of the frames that exist in that movie. And to be able to pull that off with such poise and ease, that’s what movie stars do.” But directing isn’t a curious actor’s diversion. Does Soderbergh, who is also close to Pussy Island’s star Tatum, think Kravitz can pull it off?

“Of the people that I could name who I think have a real shot at coming out of the gate making something really distinctive and strong, she’s at the top of that list.

Kravitz on Tatum:

“Do I want to go into that? I guess what I’ll say is when you make things with people it’s a very sacred space, and when you’re compatible with somebody creatively it often opens up other channels, because you’re kind of sharing all of yourself,” Kravitz says. “I’m really grateful that this movie has brought him into my life that way.”

Kravitz on what she was wearing while on locations shooting:

“I’m wearing a necklace that my mom gave me and an earring that Channing gave me. I have a T-shirt from my dad. I’ve been wearing a lot of things that remind me of people who I love, because it’s comforting,” she says.

Donald Glover on Pussy Island:

“I thought that the script was dangerous, which I liked,” says one of them, fellow actor-writer-director-musician Donald Glover. “It feels really dangerous for a woman to make this story about power.”

WSJ. Magazine
Photography © Campbell Addy for WSJ. Magazine
WSJ. Magazine
Photography © Campbell Addy for WSJ. Magazine

Donald Glover on the pressure Kravitz encounters to be seen as more than her parent’s daughter:

“I know she feels the pressure,” Glover says of Kravitz’s efforts to be seen as more than “the daughter of.” He compares it to working with Malia Obama, a writer on Hive, his upcoming Amazon series. “There’s always a pressure that’s like, ‘I actually have to do something that’s good, because otherwise people will say it’s not because of me being creative.’”

“I think she just knows how the conversation is going to be. Her doing this script and directing it, I feel like she’s taking the risk to heart of like, ‘Yeah, you can’t say this is because of something else. Actually, this is my idea. This is my perception.’”

Kravitz on her music – past and future:

“I think it feels young and sweet,” she says of Lolawolf’s songs. “I always felt like I wasn’t getting to the place I wanted to with that music, mostly because of who I was [at the time].” She’s since started working on a solo album produced by Jack Antonoff, but it’s on the back burner. “I’m scared to make music, but I love it,” Kravitz says. “Now I’ve already kind of started it.”

Kravitz on being judged artistically:

“There’s just a fear of judgment. The truth is, with almost everything I do, if I can get it to the point where I truly think it’s good, then I can kind of let things drop away where I’m not so concerned about what other people think.”

Kravitz on casting Naomi Ackie in Pussy Island’s lead role:

“I wanted to make space for someone else. This is a role that I would have loved to have played…[but] I genuinely think Naomi is worlds better for this part than I am.”

WSJ. Magazine
Photography © Campbell Addy for WSJ. Magazine

This article is featured in WSJ. Magazine’s Fall 2022 Women’s Fashion issue out on newsstands Saturday, August 27th. Discover more at wsj.com

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