Zendaya says her agency was 'stripped away' by critics who slammed 'Malcolm & Marie' for having a white director

Zendaya says her agency was 'stripped away' by critics who slammed 'Malcolm & Marie' for having a white director
Zendaya and John David Washington in "Malcolm and Marie."Netflix
  • "Malcolm & Marie" director Sam Levinson faced criticism for his depiction of Black characters.
  • However, Zendaya and John David Washington were co-producers as well as financers of the movie.
  • "John David, I, and Sam equally own this film," Zendaya told the New York Times.

Zendaya said her "agency was stripped away" following the backlash her movie "Malcolm and Marie" faced for having a white director and writer telling a story about two Black characters.

The movie, which hit Netflix early this month, was written and directed by Sam Levinson ("Euphoria") and features Zendaya and John David Washington as a feuding Hollywood couple.

Despite high anticipation, the movie drew largely negative reviews with several critics and viewers accusing Levinson of using two Black characters to table his own personal gripes with Hollywood. However, during an interview with The New York Times, Zendaya, who is also a producer on the movie, hit back maintaining that she had a strong influence over the direction of the movie's script.
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"What's interesting is I think a little bit of our agency was stripped away. Like this was just kind of Sam spewing things through us without realizing that we are not only actors in this, but we're co-financiers and producers with P.G.A. marks. You can't get those unless you actually do the job," she said.
Zendaya says her agency was 'stripped away' by critics who slammed 'Malcolm & Marie' for having a white director
Sam Levinson also collaborates with Zendaya on "Euphoria."Netflix

"I think it also oddly mirrors a little bit of Marie's plight, right? It's like Marie saying the whole movie [Malcolm's film] is also mine. But actually, in real life, we do have the credit, this is ours, and John David, I, and Sam equally own this film," she continued.

"It's not like it belongs to someone else and I just got cast in it. He wrote it for us too, and I think if you're going to write something, you have to acknowledge experiences of the [Black] character you're writing. I thought a lot of conversations I had with Sam came through."
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In a mixed review, Insider praised Zendaya and John David Washington's performances calling the film a "career-high" for both. But before the movie was released, there was controversy surrounding John David Washington's casting as Zendaya's love interest. There is a 12-year age gap between the two actors.

At the time, Zendaya dismissed the concerns about the age gap during an interview with People. She said: "People often forget - which is understandable because I've been playing 16 since I was 16, you know - [but] I am grown. I knew that, as I grow and as I evolve, there would be that moment where I could play someone my own age."
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