Zoë Kravitz Gives the Only Career + Audition Advice You’ll Ever Need

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“In the Envelope: The Actor’s Podcast” features intimate, in-depth conversations with today’s most noteworthy film, television, and theater actors and creators. Full of both know-how and inspiration, “In the Envelope” airs weekly to cover everything from practical advice on navigating the industry, to how your favorite projects are made, to personal stories of success and failure alike. Join host and Awards Editor Jack Smart for this guide on how to live the creative life from those who are doing it every day.

Any performer who has not booked a role and felt rejected—and that’s all performers!—could take a page out of Zoë Kravitz’s book. “The truth is, you were always right or you were never right,” says the actor, reflecting on her recent experience on the other side of the audition room table. “When that person walks in, I feel like everyone feels it immediately. And it almost takes the pressure off in a way! You’re either that person or you’re not.” 

It’s an audition philosophy Kravitz has worked hard to develop throughout her increasingly impressive acting career. “There was this puppy energy when I was younger, in an audition,” she remembers. “I just really wanted to be liked.... Now, when I do read for things, I’m really thinking about it in terms of if I had this job already, I would say, ‘This line doesn’t make sense. Can we do it like this?’ You’d communicate with the director the way you do if the job was yours.”

A career as an actor, model, musician, and now writer-producer seems predestined for Kravitz, who grew up surrounded by artists, including parents Lisa Bonet and Lenny Kravitz. “I had a lot of time to use my imagination,” she says of her childhood in Los Angeles, “so making up characters and putting them on shows and singing songs, that was always the way I entertained myself and others around me.” Itching to pursue on-camera work professionally, she enrolled at SUNY Purchase College and snuck into New York City for auditions, eventually getting an agent and booking her first film, “No Reservations.”

Since then Kravitz has honed a talent and voice all her own, from indies “Beware the Gonzo,” “Yelling to the Sky,” and “Gemini,” to TV including “Californication,” to blockbusters like the “Divergent” films, “Mad Max: Fury Road,” and “Fantastic Beasts.” She’s made music with Drake, Janelle Monáe, and her own band, Lolawolf. Last year she returned to star alongside Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley, and Meryl Streep on HBO’s Emmy Award–winning “Big Little Lies,” and now executive produces and leads Hulu’s TV adaptation of the rom-com “High Fidelity.” Based on Nick Hornby’s 1995 novel and the beloved 2000 film (which co-starred Bonet), the new series is developed by Veronica West and Sarah Kucserka and features Jake Lacy, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, David H. Holmes, and Kravitz as NYC record store owner Rob, the originally male leading role.

“My agent called me and said they were doing this gender-flipped version of ‘High Fidelity’ and I, like I think a lot of people, had the same reaction: I rolled my eyes at it,” says Kravitz with a laugh. “I always identified with Rob and kind of romanticized that character in a way. Then I felt really protective over the source material, and I thought, They’re probably going to do this one way or another, so why not be involved?”

The prospect of immersing herself in the role John Cusack played in the film—“the closest I’ve ever played to myself and the most I’ve ever seen myself in a character,” Kravitz admits—as well as “being a part of something from the ground-up” as producer, convinced her. She was involved in the series’ writing, casting, and initial move from Disney+ to Hulu, a channel better suited for an edgy romantic comedy set in modern-day Brooklyn. “Balancing the executive producer hat with the actor hat, it actually was really good, I think, for my performance, because I didn’t have too much time to overthink it,” says Kravitz.

Compartmentalizing is a strategy Kravitz uses in other areas of her career, too. In the wake of the pandemic’s industry shutdown, which has interrupted her work as Catwoman on Matt Reeves’ “The Batman” opposite Robert Pattinson, Kravitz has been developing a script of her own. “When you really are able to focus on one project at a time,” she explains, “I think you’re just able to go to a deeper place and see things more clearly when you give yourself that space.”

She also offers the life advice her mother passed along to her: “Rejection is protection.” When it comes to the artistic life, Kravitz says, things end up working out the way they’re supposed to work out. “It might not show up right away, but I think we’re all in good hands.” For more, tune into Kravitz’s interview at any of the podcast platforms below.

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