Zazie Beetz first entered our homes (and our hearts) as Earnest’s longtime, on and off girlfriend on the FX hit series, Atlanta. Her character, Vanessa, is a relatable expression of what it’s like to be a young, black millennial woman trying to figure out motherhood, life’s woes, career pivots, and a “kinda good, kinda not” on and off relationship.
And much like her on-screen persona, Zazie’s real self is multifaceted and complex—and arguably a little more interesting. In her cover interview with Elle, Zazie talks about working with legendary talents like Delroy Lindo and Brad Pitt, returning for the next season of Atlanta, and why she chooses to live a more private, introverted lifestyle.
Beetz on being excited about being able to film the new season of Atlanta:
“I’m inherently an introverted person, so going on set can be hard for me. It takes me months to really feel comfortable. And by the time I do, it’s over. I’m really excited to be going back to shooting Atlanta because I’m just like, ‘I’ll be with a family.’”
On coping with the career changes that came with the pandemic and social unrest, such as the murder of George Floyd:
“I’m so excited to be working again, and I feel really grateful. It’s just been so good for me to be able to stay busy. It all really fell apart for me. I had a really emotional summer, and I had to sit with a lot of feelings.”
On being the only person of color around when visiting her grandparents in Germany every Summer:
“I wouldn’t see another person of color for weeks, at all, no one…not any other color. And if you did, you would wave at each other and be like, ‘Hi. I see you.’”
On her personal connection to climate change efforts and why it’s important to see people of color fighting the good fight:
“The climate movement can feel very white. I wanted people to see that there are so many people who look like me already doing the work.”
On why she doesn’t feel the need to be apart of multiple social media platforms:
“I know myself [too well]. I want that space to just really be just me and not anything else, and not being told by anyone else [what to do], because this is the only public space that I have where I can do that.
Fellow actor and Atlanta co-star, Brian Tyree Henry, had kind words to say about Zazie Beetz and the unique talent that she poses:
““Zazie has such a power and presence about herself that is so undeniable. She has this fantastic gift of being completely rooted, but light as air at the same time. Not many can give characters the grace and willingness that she does…. There is a simplicity to her pain, her joy, her struggle that makes it so seamless to follow any journey she is on.”
Additionally, iconic actress Regina King also got a chance to work with Beetz in a new Jay-Z produced Black Western film entitled, The Harder They Fall:
“[She really does] her homework. I get the feeling that no matter the genre, Zazie wants the audience to believe in her character. And she knows that she has to truly believe in the character first for that to happen.”
Zazie being well-known as just “Van from Atlanta” is just about at its end. With a few major releases soon to be under her belt, Beetz is well on her way to becoming a face we see—on TV and feature films—for many years to come.
Read her full interview for Elle’s May issue here.