On September 20th, Zendaya won the Emmy for best lead actress in a drama for her role in Euphoria, a show on HBO that highlights troubled youth. She is just two years younger than the 26-year-old incumbent winner, Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer. At 24, Zendaya is the youngest woman ever to receive this award.
“I know this feels like a really weird time to be celebrating,” Zendaya said during the virtual ceremony.
Euphoria is the adapted version of a show that originally aired in Israel. It follows a group of troubled teenagers while they combat mental illness, substance abuse, and trauma, amongst the stress of going to highschool. The story is written by Sam Levinson, and Zendaya’s character Rue is based off of the struggles Levinson had has a young adult. Its uniqueness, empathy, and brutal honesty intrigued 5.6 million viewers who tuned in every Sunday when it first aired in 2019.
“I was really nervous because I wanted to do well. It’s like going from nothing to everything – there were no steps in between,” Zendaya said in an interview with The New York Times.
In Euphoria, Zendaya plays a character named Rue who struggles with substance abuse, along with multiple mental illnesses including ADHD, general anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Zendaya has been praised for her artistic vulnerability and range, as she originally started her career as a part of a Disney Channel movie titled Frienemies, which contrasts her substance-abusive and explicit role in Euphoria.
The visibly excited actress thanked Euphoria’s producers, her supporters, and her cast and crew while trying to hold back tears of excitement after winning her first Emmy. She especially thanked Sam Levinson, the co-producer and creator of Euphoria.
“I’m so grateful for Rue, I’m so grateful that you trusted me with your story, and I hope I continue to do you proud,” Zendaya said.
Zendaya also acknowledged her peers competing in her category during her speech.
“To all the other incredible women in this category, I admire you all so much,” Zendaya said.
Zendaya’s competition included five other phenomenal actresses, including Killing Eve‘s Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh, Ozark‘s Laura Linney, The Crown‘s Olivia Colman and The Morning Show‘s Jennifer Aniston.
Zendaya has also won other awards for starring in Euphoria. She competed and won the Satellite Award for Best Actress in the category of Television Series Drama, against Killing Eve‘s Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh, as well as The Crown‘s Olivia Colman. In 2019, she received a People’s Choice Award for Drama TV Star of the Year, and competed against actress Reese Witherspoon of Big Little Lies, who tweeted her congratulations to Zendaya after her Emmy nomination.
Zendaya also has some projects being released at the end of 2020 and in 2021. Although covid-19 halted most productions, Malcolm and Marie was produced with a very small cast and major precautions. There is also rumored to be a second season of Euphoria, though filming and release dates have not been confirmed.
Although the future of entertainment is unclear, it seems as though audiences have not seen the last of Zendaya.