Zendaya has opened up about the pressures of being a good role model to her audience and followers, especially as a Black woman in Hollywood.
Zendaya, joined by Janelle Monáe, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Helena Bonham Carter, and Rose Byrne, took part in a roundtable hosted by The Hollywood Reporter. Together they discussed issues like fighting typecasting, using their large platforms during a time of great social unrest, and systematic racism.
Zendaya, who has over 72 million followers on Instagram, plays Rue Bennett in the acclaimed series Euphoria. She first shot to fame on Disney’s Shake It Up before starring in her own series K.C. Undercover. Her films include The Greatest Showman and Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home.
“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,” Zendaya shared. “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 organisers and people who are on the ground.”
The 23-year-old said she is her biggest critic and is constantly fearful of making a mistake. “Being a young Disney actor, that’s one level, being a young Black woman is one level, and then being very hard on myself is another level. It’s also just a personal fear. I want to do a good job, and sometimes that can cause you to be fearful of things.”
But her fear subsided when she was cast in the role of Rue, a recovering drug addict.
“There’s something that happens when a special character comes along, for me at least, and those fears melt away,” she said. “They don’t come back until it starts airing, which is when I started to get a little scared. But now I’m excited to go back because the motivation is to work harder and become a better actress. I just want to get better.”
Zendaya said her ultimate goal is to make space for woman who look like her and for women who don’t look like her. She also acknowledged her privilege of being a light-skinned Black woman, and how she doesn’t want to take up space where she doesn’t need to.
“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.”
You can read The Hollywood Reporter’s roundtable interview, right here.