Zazie Beetz’s anonymity is a wrap.
Ever since folks fell in love with the FX comedy Atlanta, on which she co-stars as the beloved character Van, she gets recognized on the street and in airports all the time. Yes, Beetz appreciates the shine but sometimes she just wants to live.
“I love to dance at Afropunk and express myself and then I saw people whipping out their phones to take pictures of me,” Beetz, 26, told ESSENCE at a recent press event for Atlanta. Season two kicked off March 1.
“It was the first time I felt like I have to dampen myself so I don’t feel so exposed,” she says of the encounter, which happened at the Atlanta incarnation. “Now my dancing will be scrutinized online or just interrupted and that’s something I have to get used to. Another time, my boyfriend and I were having a fight outside and it wasn’t a big deal, just an emotional discussion. And a fan came and interrupted to take a selfie. But you could see that we were in a deep discussion but the person couldn’t accept that it wasn’t a good time.
“It just makes me worry about how I have to modify my life in the future in a way that I haven’t had to before now.”
The German-born actress is going to get even more attention and exposure as the character Domino when the highly-anticipated Marvel sequel Deadpool 2 arrives in theaters in May. Interestingly enough, the latest season of Atlanta also addresses the ups and downs of newfound fame and how that feels both existentially and realistically.
For instance, Alfred a.k.a. Paper Boi (the amazing Brian Tyree Henry) learns the hard way that he can no longer sell drugs. Meanwhile, Earn (star Donald Glover) suffers when his fatter wallet doesn’t garner more respect. Van’s story is still evolving too but she doesn’t appear in new installments until episode three.
“I worry about not being able to be myself day to day,” Beetz says. “But I know people way more famous than me who have been able to do that. I guess I just don’t know what to anticipate.”
Until then, Beetz says she feels a lot of gratitude and responsibility as the only female lead on Atlanta, an otherwise masculine show.
“I don’t represent all women, just one kind of person,” she says. “But I feel very proud to have that and I like that there is an exploration of Van outside of the context of Earn. There’s more of that in season two. We’ll find out who she is outside of being a partner and a mother and that’s exciting.”
Atlanta airs on Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX.