Zendaya: ‘Agency stripped away’ by ‘Malcolm & Marie’ critique

The actress reveals the response has 'oddly mirrored Marie's plight'

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Zendaya is opening up about some of the critiques of her film, Malcolm & Marie, revealing that she felt her “agency was stripped away” in the conversation.

While Zendaya’s latest film Malcolm & Marie, is up for some awards and gained a lot of praise for the actress’s performance, it has not been without some criticism. Director Sam Levinson recently responded to some of his film’s vocal critics, and now Zendaya is chiming in on how she feels. 

In a recent interview with the New York Times, Zendaya opened up about Malcolm & Marie, the process of making the film, and how she specifically feels about some of the criticism. 

(Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

Read More: John David Washington and Zendaya can’t decide if ‘Malcolm & Marie’ belong together: ‘This is bad’

Zendaya revealed to the NYT that their quarantine film being considered for awards is shocking to her, saying, “You know, it’s funny, if you would have told us that there would be a conversation around, you know, awards or whatever, that’s crazy! We were all just figuring it out together.” 

When discussing some of the criticisms of the script and its depiction of a toxic relationship, Zendaya explained, “None of us who made the movie think that they’re, like, in a healthy relationship, you know what I mean…I think it was to explore those insecurities and those dark things about ourselves that I think sometimes relationships can bring out of us.”

She explains the collaborative nature of the project and how she feels in the midst of the criticism her and co-star John David Washington’s own agency has been left out of the conversation. 

She revealed, “What’s interesting is I think a little bit of our agency was stripped away. Like this was just kind of Sam spewing things through us without realizing that we are not only actors in this, but we’re co-financiers and producers with P.G.A. marks. You can’t get those unless you actually do the job.” 

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She goes on to explain, “I think it also oddly mirrors a little bit of Marie’s plight, right? It’s like Marie saying the whole movie [Malcolm’s film] is also mine. But actually in real life, we do have the credit, this is ours, and John David, I and Sam equally own this film.”

“It’s not like it belongs to someone else and I just got cast in it. He wrote it for us too, and I think if you’re going to write something, you have to acknowledge experiences of the [Black] character you’re writing. I thought a lot of conversations I had with Sam came through,” she added.

Last month Zendaya sat down with theGrio and opened up about the initial response to the film’s first screening, echoing some of her current statements.

She revealed to us, “I’m split just like probably everyone is … I think the beauty of what we do there is — really, the point is to have the conversation; the dialogue and the back and forth, the polarizing aspect of it…I don’t think we’re all supposed to agree. And it’s not supposed to be so black and white. I think it is supposed to be a little bit messy and confusing and conflicting, you know? So like anyone else, I go back and forth.”

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