Kristen Stewart says queer actors taking queer roles isn't a straight forward conversation

In a recent interview, actress Kristen Stewart addresses the 'slippery slope conversation' surrounding queer performers playing queer roles.

Kristen Stewart

Actress Kristen Stewart voiced her thoughts on the ‘grey area’ regarding debates around performers playing LGBTQ+ characters while also acknowledging her privilege in the industry. 

In a recent interview with Variety, Stewart spoke about her role in pioneering Christmas rom-com movie Happiest Season. When asked about queer performers playing queer characters, she opened up about her privilege in the industry, the accessibility of work, and being an ally.

Stewart shared, “Being somebody who has had so much access to work, I’ve just lived with such a creative abundance. You know, a young white girl who was straight and only really was gay later and is, like, skinny—do you know what I’m saying? I so acknowledge that I’ve just gotten to work.”

“I would never want to tell a story that really should be told by somebody who’s lived that experience. Having said that, it’s a slippery slope conversation because that means I could never play another straight character if I’m going to hold everyone to the letter of this particular law. I think it’s such a gray area,” the actress further stated.

Stewart talked about the importance of community reception and whether they are open to the performer playing an LGBTQ+ role. She shared, “We need to have our finger on the pulse and actually have to care. You kind of know where you’re allowed. I mean, if you’re telling a story about a community and they’re not welcoming to you, then f**k off. But if they are, and you’re becoming an ally and a part of it and there’s something that drove you there in the first place that makes you uniquely endowed with a perspective that might be worthwhile, there’s nothing wrong with learning about each other.”

The actress also drew on the example of Happiest Season, “I will say, Mackenzie is not somebody who identifies as a lesbian. She was the only person in my mind that could have played this with me. Sometimes, artfully speaking, you’re just drawn to a certain group of people. I could defend that, but I’m sure that somebody with a different perspective could make me feel bad about that — and then make me renege on everything I’ve just said. I acknowledge the world that we live in. And I absolutely would never want to traipse on someone else’s opportunity to do that — I would feel terrible about that.”

The LGBTQ+ community have been calling for representation both on and off-screen for numerous years due to a glaring absence in visibility. Though there has been an increase in queer storylines within movies, this rise can be seen as disproportionate to queer performers starring in these groundbreaking roles. 

Against a backdrop where queer performers are often overlooked for queer roles, communities are vocal in their demands to see people who share experiences with the role they are playing. In 2020, the Oscars implemented new Academy standards for Best Picture in the Oscars to encourage representation within the industry. 

Kristen Stewart summarised her opinion by stating, “So my answer is f**king think about what you’re doing! And don’t be an a**hole.”

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