Zoë Kravitz on Will Smith slap and her directorial debut of a film with a ‘provocative’ title

"It's a scary time to have an opinion or to say the wrong thing or to make controversial art or statements or thoughts or anything,” the actress said.

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Zoë Kravitz has had time to reflect on her initial response to the Will Smith Oscars slap, and now the actress says she should have handled it differently. 

In her cover story in WSJ Magazine’s Fall 2022 Women’s Fashion issue, Kravitz, 33, addresses the backlash she received for her remarks about Smith after he slapped Chris Rock at the “94th Academy Awards.”

“It’s a scary time to have an opinion or to say the wrong thing or to make controversial art or statements or thoughts or anything,” Kravitz tells the publication. 

The 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion - Arrivals
“I think I’m in a place right now where I don’t want to express myself through a caption or a tweet. I want to express myself through art,” Zoë Kravitz told WSJ Magazine in reflecting on her comments about the “Oscar slap.” Here, she attends the 2021 Met Gala in New York. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

“It’s mostly scary because art is about conversation,” she adds. “That should, in my opinion, always be the point. The internet is the opposite of conversation. The internet is people putting things out and not taking anything in.”

In the days after the Oscars slap, the “Batman” star took to Instagram to slam Smith for assaulting Rock after he cracked a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, and her hair loss because of alopecia.

“Here’s a picture of my dress at the award show where we are apparently assaulting people on stage now,” Kravitz captioned the now-deleted post, Newsweek reported. In a second post, she wrote: “And here is a picture of my dress at the party after the award show — where we are apparently screaming profanities and assaulting people on stage now.”

Criticism of her was swift and fierce for daring to comment on the incident. The backlash prompted Kravitz to delete her posts. She tells WSJ magazine that she still has “very complicated feelings around it. I’m torn about what to say right now because I’m supposed to just talk about it. I wish I had handled that differently. And that’s OK.”

EE British Academy Film Awards 2022 - Red Carpet Arrivals
Naomi Ackie attends the EE British Academy Film Awards 2022 on March 12, 2022 at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The actress has a lead role in “Pussy Island,” the directorial debut of actress Zoë Kravitz. (Photo by Joe Maher/Getty Images)

The backlash reminded Kravitz that she is an artist and “being an artist is not about everybody loving you or everyone thinking you’re hot,” she explains. “It’s about expressing something that will hopefully spark a conversation or inspire people or make them feel seen. “I think I’m in a place right now where I don’t want to express myself through a caption or a tweet. I want to express myself through art.”

And so she is. The actress gets to add at least one new job title to her resume: director. Currently, she is in Mexico to shooting her first film, “Pussy Island.

The film, which Kravitz started writing five years ago and on which she shares a writing credit, “was born out of a lot of anger and frustration around the lack of conversation about the treatment of women, specifically in industries that have a lot of money in them, like Hollywood, the tech world, all of that,” she discloses.

Importantly, she began writing the script before the #MeToo movement rocked Hollywood and upended the careers of numerous powerful men, most famously Harvey Weinstein. “Pussy Island” stars Naomi Ackie (Whitney Houston biopic, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”) as an L.A cocktail waitress who tech mogul Channing Tatum (Kravitz’s current partner) invites to his private island for presumably sex and “debauchery.”

Kraviz confirms that the film, which is set for a 2023 release, bears a title that is meant to provoke. “The title came from that world. The title is the seed of the story,” she says. 

“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.”

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