The Euphoria star, 23, was joined by Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Janelle Monáe, Helena Bonham Carter and Rose Byrne for The Hollywood Reporter’s drama actress roundtable on Wednesday, June 24. During the discussion, Zendaya opened up about representing Black women across her industry.
“I have a heavy responsibility on my shoulders, but I’m appreciative for that because with that there’s a lot of good that I can do and I know who is watching,” the Spider-Man: Far From Home actress explained. “Now, more than ever, specifically with Black Lives Matter and everything, I feel an obligation to make sure that I’m aware and putting out the right things and in line with organizers and people who are on the ground. … I’m just figuring it out as I go, trying to do the best I can.”
Zendaya noted that she doesn’t want to “limit” herself in her acting career and that she wanted the opportunity to “do the things that I want to do and play the roles that I want to play.” With that, she also revealed that she’s instructed her reps to put her up for parts that weren’t necessarily written for a mixed-race or black woman — including her starring role on Euphoria.
“I also think it’s important being a light-skinned woman to recognize my privilege in that sense as well and make sure that I’m not taking up space where I don’t need to,” she said. “I think that’s been a choice for myself. Our creator [Sam Levinson] wrote Rue based off his own experiences with addiction and he is a white man, so Rue could have been that. Rue had no description.”
The Disney Channel alum continued, “I’m very grateful and hopefully I’ll be in a space like these ladies where I can create things and make space for women who look like me and women who don’t look like me. That’s the ultimate goal, to make room, [because] for a lot of Black creatives, it’s not a lack of talent but a lack of opportunity.”
Zendaya has expressed the importance of being a role model in her industry before. During her August 2016 Essence cover story, she talked about setting an example for her younger fans.
“You’ve got to realize those Twitter followers, those kids who watch you, that’s technically power,” she said at the time. “So, to me, I have a responsibility or a duty to the people who watch me to promote positive things, or to show them positive things, or to enlighten them.”Listen to Us Weekly's Hot Hollywood as each week the editors of Us break down the hottest entertainment news stories!
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