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Why ‘Queen & Slim’ Star Jodie Turner-Smith Isn’t Sure About Raising a Family in the U.S.

Jodie Turner-Smith
Alex Gitman for Variety

“In the middle of all of this, while this group of people in this country, black people are being oppressed, are being killed, are being murdered, there is still this beauty that cannot be killed and that is also what this movie is about,” says Jodie Turner-Smith.

The model-turned-actor is talking about “Queen & Slim.” She makes her film debut in the crime drama starring as a lawyer whose Tinder date with a Costco worker (Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya) goes horrifically wrong when they’re pulled over by a cop and Kaluuya’s character fatally shoots the officer in self-defense. Queen (Turner-Smith) and Slim (Kaluuya) go on the run from the law, heading south from Ohio to Florida.

Written by Lena Waithe, the film marks the feature directorial debut of acclaimed music video director Melina Matsoukas.

“This is a movie about black survival at all costs,” Turner-Smith said during an appearance on the latest episode of “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast.

ALEX GITMAN FOR VARIETY’s “The BIG TICKET” Podcast

Turner-Smith, who grew up in the U.K., moved to Los Angeles about 10 years ago after being introduced to Pharrell Williams while she was living in Pittsburgh. The musician persuaded her to head west to pursue a modeling career. After appearing in several music videos — she attracted major attention for Zayn Malick’s “Pillowtalk” — she began landing acting gigs on television, most notably on TNT’s “The Last Ship,” Syfy’s “Nightflyers” and the new “Jett,” on Cinemax, opposite Carla Gugino.

Turner-Smith, 33, who has been in a relationship with Joshua Jackson for more than a year, thinks she’ll eventually apply for U.S. citizenship. But she’s torn. “I’ve been in this country now for so long, so it’s like I should, but I’m not certain that I want to live here and raise my family.”

She went on to explain, “It’s a very complicated relationship that I have with America. I love it so much. And I also see the places where it’s flawed.”

You can listen to the entire interview with Turner-Smith below. You can also find “The Big Ticket” at iHeartRadio or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.