A MEETING WITH LAURA HARRIER - CRASH Magazine
CINEMA

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A MEETING WITH LAURA HARRIER

By Alice Butterlin

On the occasion of the release of the Hollywood series on Netflix, rediscover our interview with actress Laura Harrier from our issue 84 when she was the cover star.

Discovered through her role as Liz Allan in last summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, Laura Harrier is poised to take American cinema by storm. As one of few black women to appear in the world of superhero movies, Harrier understands the importance of promoting an inclusive film industry that grants equal representation to people of all origins. She belongs to a new generation of artists and actors who plan to inspire change in their lives and on social media, where every photo can enact a positive impact on people’s mindsets. She will return to the big screen in Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, a thriller inspired by actual events within the Ku Klux Klan and selected to compete for the Palme d’Or in Cannes.

How did you start your acting career and what gave you the will to pursue it ?

I acted in school plays as a child but never considered it to be a possible career. When I moved to New York, friends would ask me to be in various short films and I discovered I really loved it. I decided to go to drama school for two years and then began working from there. When I was in my last year of school, Steve McQueen cast me in his HBO pilot which was my first real job.

Which movies and directors shaped your taste in cinema ?

For director, I’d say Gus Van Sant, Steve McQueen, Spike Lee, Paul Thomas Anderson and Sofia Coppola. My favorite films would be Do the Right Thing, Cinema Paradiso, The Informant, Lost in Translation, My Own Private Idaho and Cléo from 5 to 7.

You had your big break in Spider Man : Homecoming which came out last year. How did you prepare for the role of Liz Allen ? How was the filming experience ?

I wasn’t able to prepare very far in advance since the script wasn’t disclosed to us until we were on set because of how secure Marvel needs to be. But I read a ton of Spider-Man comics starting at the beginning issues, where my character Liz Allan first appears. The filming experience was very exciting. I was nervous going into a set of that size and caliber for my first film, but Jon Watts was able to make it feel very comfortable and easy. It felt like we were shooting the biggest indie movie ever.

Playing in a Marvel series means entering a whole universe parallel to the film. Were you a big fan of the comic books and did you enjoy going to the conventions ?

I read some comic books as a kid, but was not super aware of the entire Marvel Universe fandom that exists before entering it. Now, I love being part of it and am a big fan of the films. The fans are all so passionate and excited about what we are making and I very much enjoy getting to meet them.

How do you feel black women are represented in superhero movies and in films in general ? Is there a lack of important roles for black women in Hollywood and is it shifting today ?

I don’t think that there is enough representation of black women, or of people of color in general in film, but I am hopeful that that is starting to shift. We are seeing with the success of films like Black Panther and Get Out and even Spider-Man Homecoming that audiences want to see diverse stories being told on screen. Representation is so important, and I hope to continue being able to tell the stories of fully rounded black female characters.

You will be starring in Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman which will be presented in Cannes. What did working with Spike Lee mean to you ? Were you familiar with his work ?

Working with Spike was an incredible and very surreal experience. I had loved his films since I first saw Do the Right Thing when I was in high school. He has always been a role model of mine and a dream collaborator. So being able to be in his new film in such a large capacity was truly an honor. I learned so much being on set with him and hope that we have the chance to work together again.

Can you tell me about your role in this movie ?

I am playing an activist in the Black Power movement. She is a leader in the community and very outspoken against racism and police brutality. I drew influence from women such as Angela Davis and Kathleen Cleaver to create the character.

Do you look up to certain feminist icons like Angela Davis or Kathleen Cleaver ?

Yes, I have looked up to them for a long time in my personal life, and then even more so when I began researching this role. I was able to meet and interview Kathleen Cleaver, and was incredibly inspired by her and all of the work she has done for the black community. Angela Davis has long been a role model of mine, and her influence was instrumental in creating the character of Patrice.

Since it’s the fiftieth anniversary of the 1968 riots and revolutionnary movements in France and accross the world, we are axing this issue of Crash on the notion of revolution. What does revolution mean to you today and how has it evolved through time ? What do you want to fight for ?

To me revolution means creating change within flawed systems, to resist, to never become complacent within the face of oppression. These values are just as important now as they were during the civil rights movements in the United States and the revolutionary movements in France. I want to fight for an end to police brutality against black people in America, for equal rights for women around the world, for equal representation in film. I want to fight against Trump and the racist, misogynist agenda that is being perpetuated in the United States. We have a lot to fight for, but I am hopeful for the future and encouraged by the spirit of resistance that has emerged in the face of oppression.

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Photographer : James Mountford
Stylist : Melissa Levy @Lenny Harlin
Make up : Lottie using Nars Cosmetics @loweandco
Hair : Dallin James @thewallgroup
Manucurist : Jolene Brodeur
Stylist assistant : Emily Diddle
Executive producer : Virginie Picot
Set Designer : Daniel Horowitz

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