Laura Harrier attends the 25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Laura Harrier attends the 25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.

Actor Laura Harrier says modelling industry was ‘unapologetically racist’

‘I’m also very wary of celebrity activism’

Katie O'Malley
Thursday 01 August 2019 12:59
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Actor Laura Harrier has described the modelling industry as being "unapologetically racist", revealing that she struggled to book jobs as a teenager due to the colour of her skin.

The actor has starred in several blockbuster films including Spider-Man: Homecoming and BlacKkKlansman over the years but first started out her career as a model in New York City aged 18.

Opening up about her experience working in the fashion industry, the 29-year-old star told Marie Claire magazine: “Girls have so much more individuality now and different types of women are celebrated.

“When I was a model, it was literally just skinny white Russian girls, so nobody was booking me for jobs.”

The Chicago-born actor recalled going to casting calls at model agencies in Paris who would sign her but later say: “'Oh, we already have a black girl.'

"It was just unapologetically racist,” she described the modelling industry. “Fortunately, I think that's changing."

Laura Harrier attends the 25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California

The actor also discussed the marriage between fashion and gender equality, stating: “I don’t think that one negates the other.

“You can be a woman, and love fashion and clothes, and that doesn’t mean you don’t care about big issues. I don’t understand why it’s like, ‘OK, you’re wearing a pretty dress, you’re not a feminist’.”

Harrier, who played an activist called Patrice in BlacKkKlansman, stated that she doesn’t consider herself an activist, rather a “human being with opinions”.

“I think there’s obviously more of a space for your voice to be heard and to be more in control of your voice because of social media – it has presented a whole new platform for people,” the star explained.

Laura Harrier attends the 25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.

"And using our voices feels natural to my entire generation. But I’m also very wary of celebrity activism. I don’t consider myself an activist.

“I’m a human being with opinions and morals, but it seems that as soon as you’re in the public eye and you’re somebody who does that, all of a sudden you are ‘an activist’. To me, activists are people who are standing on the front lines in Ferguson [Missouri].”

During the interview, Harrier also discussed the lack of racial diversity in film and how she wants to represent a diverse range of women.

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"I want to do romantic comedies and other films in which you don't see people who look like me; movies where you've never really seen people who don't look like Kate Hudson,” she said.

"I don't know what people's thought process was when they believed that audiences couldn't connect to seeing people of colour fall in love."

Read the full interview in the September issue of Marie Claire, out on Thursday 1 August.

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