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Zazie Beetz Doesn't Want To Look Perfect, She Wants To Look "Undone"

The actress does messy and effortless without apology.

Hair

Zazie Beetz has been captivating viewers since her debut on FX's Atlanta as Earn's sometimes love interest. Since, she's been virtually everywhere including but not limited to Netflix's Easy, High Flying Bird, Deadpool 2, Joker, and Lucy in the Sky. Rapidly and quite effortlessly so, Zazie is asserting herself as a star on the rise and she's making those strides on her own terms. Recently, the German-born actress spoke with Allure about her earthy minimalist swag, from her crush-worthy afro to her glowy skin and her understated yet effervescent makeup looks.

Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com

It's no secret that I live for effortlessness when it comes to beauty and prioritize skincare above all, maybe it's laziness but I call it "low-maintenance". Plus, I feel like my most confident and beautiful self without a stitch of makeup on so Zazie's lowkey approach to beauty is one of the reasons she's an icon in the making for me. Although you can find rocking braids from time to time, Zazie wears her natural hair out and proud in most of her roles on the silver screen, something she has stated has helped more than hindered her when booking jobs.

In her interview with Allure, she talks about all things hair, her signature "undone" look, and the beauty rituals she swears by.

On feeling a responsibility to showcase her roots unapologetically:

"Being in this industry and having my hair natural, I feel such a responsibility to make sure people feel confident in their own locks and textures and to continue to show that, because I see how much it affected me to see other people wearing their hair naturally."

On her first hair memory: 

"I'm sitting on the floor, [my mother is] on the couch or she's on her knees, and she's watching a soap opera [while] braiding my hair."
"I was blessed with a mother who never let me do anything to my hair in terms of straighteners, perming, or blowing it out."

On growing up in Germany with natural hair: 

"Germany was such a homogenous country in terms of what people look like. They just really didn't even know how to start with my hair. I think with people [in the U.S.], there is still sort of a concept of what my hair could look like, what it could do, and what it is. But Germany, I think people were just like, 'Wow. Different.' [You] get a lot of people asking questions about it. Even today."

On her signature “undone” look:

"Whereas women still feel like there has to be an element of it being structured and specific and just a way, I suppose, to not make it look undone. That's just not my vibe. I think my vibe is a little undone, to be honest. And so, that's just what I've embraced, for me. It's important to continue expanding what that expectation is and to not [shame] other people for choosing to wear their hair how they want."

On her attachment to her hair:

"I have the confidence in other places, but I do attach my sense of beauty partially to my hair, which is why when I don't like [what] my hair [looks like] and I'm at an event, it's really emotional. It's emotional for a lot of people, but I think it would be a very different story if my texture [were] a softer, looser curl. I still get frustrated sometimes. I love my hair, I love the volume, I love how wild it is, but, certainly, I also think that it has taken up a lot of functional space in my life."

On her less is more approach to her hair products:

"I don't want to create any habits that will complicate things."

Along with shampoo and conditioner, she uses SheaMoisture's Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque and Koils by Nature's Replenishing Hair Oil.

On her beauty rituals:

"I wake up, brush my teeth, wash my face, and then I use the True Botanicals Clear Collection. I really like the Repair Serum and Pure Radiance Oil. They also have a nice Vitamin C Booster that I'll also use, and their Antioxidant Booster that's a powder format that dissolves in the serum when you add it in."

To read the feature in full, head over to Allure.

Featured image by Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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