Atlanta's Zazie Beetz on What She Hopes Happens in Season 2
Zazie Beetz's breakout year keeps getting better: The Atlanta star celebrated this weekend after the show won the Golden Globe for Best Musical or Comedy TV Series (the show's star and creator, Donald Glover, also walked away with a statue for Best Actor).
As you wait impatiently for season two to air on FX, check out these selected excerpts from our January interview where Beetz reflects on her role and shares what she wants to see next.
What surprised you about the filming process?
I have found you might only have a couple of days to truly prepare before filming. With a background in theater, that was a very strange thing to get used to. Atlanta has also changed scripts the day of, so we’re constantly re-memorizing. When we shot episode six’s first long scene they had added three more pages to the script the day before. At the time, we were like ‘ugh.’ But they continually change stuff so you have to readjust.
Atlanta is consistently labeled as a comedy. You’ve said you were apprehensive in the beginning because you didn’t find yourself funny. Why did you decide to take the role?
I felt comfortable on set in an environment that focused more on the minutia of everyday experiences without searching for punch lines, which can sometimes dilute television. That was a big thing for me.
What is it like to work with Atlanta’s cast?
I was freaking out during this whole process, and it was really nice to have [Glover] there as someone who has gone through all of this before. He’s so supportive and has created this feeling of family on set. It was also very cool and fun to work with Keith [Stanfield], who plays Darius, because I actually think he plays himself on screen. A lot of people are intrigued by him. He’s naturally very unpredictable and in his own headspace.
What do you want to see happen in Season two?
I really want Earn (Glover) and Van to be together, and I want them to have another kid. I think that would just be fun to act. I like working with the twins who play my daughter on-screen. They bring an energy, a static electricity that is not always around. And I think the best acting happens when you react to what’s actually happening, which you have to do when they are on set. And I want more women on the show. It's an honor to be one of the only actual extended female representations on Atlanta, but I think Van is one type of woman. I want to see more of her friends and life beyond Earn.
You had not been to Atlanta before you started filming for the show. How do you get into character as Van?
When I was shooting the pilot, I have one specific song that I kept listening to. I was just so nervous and it gave me some type of tone. It’s "Green & Gold" by Lianne La Havas. Whenever I hear that song or hear her, I think of Atlanta. As research, I also interviewed a childhood friend’s mother who was a young mom and teacher like Van. She talked about her experience of not coming from a lot of money and fighting through it. And I found it super informative and helpful to talk to her."
As a young actress just starting out on the Holywood mainstage, are there any actors or actresses that you've continued to admire?
What makes actors like Jennifer Lawrence or Amy Adams so interesting to look at is they’re kind of a little dangerous to watch because you don’t really know what’s going to happen. They just fully embody their characters to the point where you don’t see the actor, you see this fictional person. And I think that always draws me in. I feel like Meryl Streep is super known for that. I feel that. I aspire to be like her in that way.