Zazie Beetz
Source: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Zazie Beetz: A Voice for Diversity in Cinema


Nov. 1 2023, Published 10:52 a.m. ET

Zazie Beetz is a fast-rising star in the world of entertainment, thanks to her immense acting prowess and likable personality. Since her breakout role in the show Atlanta, the young female star has gone on to entertain and mesmerize audiences through her parts in various Hollywood projects, including Bullet Train and Joker.

Beetz is also widely adored for her passionate support for diversity and inclusivity in the entertainment industry. Here’s a breakdown of how The Harder They Fall star has established herself as a voice of diversity in Hollywood.

Diversifying Membership of the Oscars

After the highly publicized #OscarsSoWhite campaign calling for more diversity and inclusivity in the entertainment industry as a whole, the Academy finally decided to institute changes to address the concerns raised.

One of the ways that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences chose to create change was through the addition of new members with voting powers. Zazie Beetz was among the list of more than 800 new members invited to join the body.

To ensure inclusivity and diversity, the list of new members comprised women, foreigners, and members of underrepresented communities.

Choice of Acting Roles

Zazie Beetz has been very meticulous when it comes to choosing film roles. In the show Atlanta she plays the role of the only recurring female character. In the movie Joker the star actress is the only person of color in a list of mostly white characters.

In 2021, the fast-rising actress starred in the spaghetti Western produced by Jay Z, The Harder They Fall. In the movie, which was made up of mostly Black characters, Beetz plays the role of Stagecoach Mary Fields.

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While the film follows a fictional story, it features characters drawn from historical Black personalities. In reality, Stagecoach Mary was a former slave who went on to own a variety of businesses in addition to being the first black mail carrier in the U.S. Beetz told InStyle that she chose the part because “I think it's important to show that there was this version as well” – as opposed to the established norm where all characters are changed to be white to suit the narrative.

Supporting the 4% Challenge

In 2019, Beetz was among the long list of Hollywood stars who committed to the challenge. The challenge was introduced by Dr. Stacy L. Smith from USC Annenberg’s Inclusion Initiative. It was introduced as a way of boosting inclusivity and diversity in Hollywood.

This came after the initiative discovered that only four percent of 1,200 of the highest-grossing films released between 2007 and 2018 had female directors.

Natural Hair

Beetz also uses her natural looks to push for inclusivity in the film industry. The Lucy in the Sky actress always rocks her natural hair. In a recent interview, she told Allure, “My hair's just out as it is, and it's enough.” She is against the media’s policing of black hair, saying, “I feel such a responsibility to make sure people feel confident in their own locks and textures.”

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