Zendaya, the youngest woman to win Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series — and the second ever black woman to win in that category — is making a run at the Oscars with a stunning performance in Malcolm and Marie, which is set to be released on Netflix on Feb. 5. At only 24 years old, the actress has quickly risen to fame and continues to rise.
Her feature film debut was as Mary Jane in Spider-Man: Homecoming, which endeared her to the hearts of many. Her breakout TV role as Rue in Euphoria shows the actress’s ability to portray a realistic, complex gen-z icon that many can relate to. We’ve talked before about how mesmerizing her character Rue is, but decided that she deserves more time in the spotlight.
She recently made waves with her heart-breakingly honest and beautiful performance in Euphoria Special Episode Part One: Rue, which received wide acclaim, some claiming it to be the best episode of the show. Zendaya’s beautiful performance as Rue in this episode sets her up perfectly well to play Marie in the upcoming Malcolm and Marie. Her ability to portray raw human emotions and vulnerability is more than noteworthy. It is this unique ability combined with her ambition that makes her a figure to watch.
A hard-hitting role
The Malcolm and Marie trailer was released on January 11th, and with it, Zendaya proves to audiences once again why she won an Emmy. The trailer introduces the tense relationship of Malcolm, played by John David Washington, and Marie, played by Zendaya, and features the tagline “This is not a love story, this is a story about love.” This sets the stage for an intimate look into the complexities and realities of loving another person, something many can relate to. Zendaya looks to deliver another performance about genuine human connection in this role in all it’s ups and downs.
Being that it was shot during the COVID-19 pandemic, which presents another layer of complexity to the creative process, the film centers on two characters in a single location. This setup is similar to the one in Euphoria Special Episode Part One: Rue, in which Zendaya thrived.
Between her recent Euphoria episode and Malcolm and Marie, these two roles hope to resonate with many as we’re all inside spending significant amounts of time with our partners and ourselves, which is something we definitely aren’t used to. Zendaya possesses a unique confidence and elegance that allows her to bring these vulnerable aspects of characters to life and also isn’t shy to touch on super existential topics.
Candid through and through
Euphoria Special Episode Part One: Rue, written and directed by Sam Levinson, was released on Dec. 6 and showcased one long, existential conversation between Rue and Ali, played by Colman Domingo. The episode featured a very small cast and one location, reflecting the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, Zendaya, along with Sam Levinson, continue to produce amazing work that features deep, intimate, complex stories and characters that we can all relate to.
If there’s anything that episode teaches us, beyond how well Zendaya can convey the complexities of being a mentally ill teenage addict navigating sobriety and relationships, it’s that her ambition knows no bounds.
Many may remember Zendaya from her role on Shake It Up as a child, but since then the actress has had several roles in feature films and TV, as well as having started a music career, and now has major roles in some highly anticipated upcoming movies such as Dune and the Spider-Man: Far from Home Sequel. All of this is to say that she’s not lacking in talent, creativity, or finesse. Those qualities are what have gotten her into history books by 24 and are what keep us fascinated by her.
Elli Williams is a student at the University of California, Santa Barbara pursuing a B.A. in Film and Media studies as well as a Professional Writing Minor with an emphasis in Journalism. She is passionate about discussing the latest movies and TV shows. When not binging the latest release, she’s taking pictures, drawing, and planning her next adventure.