Zoë Kravitz can currently be seen onscreen as Catwoman in The Batman, but apparently the actress’s foray into the DC Comics universe wasn’t always a given. In a new interview with The Observer, Kravitz, who is biracial, revealed that she was once turned down for a role in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises after being told she was too “urban” for the part.
“I don’t know if it came directly from Chris Nolan,” Kravitz told the publication. “I think it was probably a casting director of some kind, or a casting director’s assistant… Being a woman of color and being an actor and being told at that time that I wasn’t able to read because of the color of my skin, and the word urban being thrown around like that, that was what was really hard about that moment.”
Of course, “urban” is a racist dogwhistle that gets tossed around as a euphemism for “Black” far too frequently. (How can anyone possibly be too “urban” for a Batman movie that’s very famously set in the gritty metropolis of Gotham City?) Up until recently, it was also used as a way to segregate Black artists to their own category — the “Urban Contemporary” category — at the Grammys. “Urban Contemporary” was eventually renamed “Progressive R&B,” but not until Tyler, The Creator spoke out about the word “urban,” saying, “It’s just the politically correct way to say the n-word to me.”
Kravitz also noted that the racism she faced early on in her career led to insecurities that she had to learn to move past.
“I felt really insecure about my hair, relaxing it, putting chemicals in it, plucking my eyebrows really thin,” she said. “I was uncomfortable with my Blackness. It took me a long time to not only accept it but to love it and want to scream it from the rooftops.”
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