Former Disney star Zendaya has opened up about the pressures of being a young Black actress in Hollywood, and got real about how landing her role as Rue in Euphoria helped ease that pressure.
“It’s a constant thing. 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,” she explained to The Hollywood Reporter in a new interview. “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.”
The former Shake It Up star admitted that she’s her own “biggest critic.”
“I think, like a lot of artists, I’m my biggest critic, so some of it was internal — not wanting to make a mistake or worrying that maybe I didn’t have the room to make a mistake and wanting to make the right next move. But I also wanted to prove myself,” she continued. “When Euphoria came along, I was very grateful because all those fears melted away and I felt like it was something that I had to be a part of. So, the fear became just, like, push yourself. If you go to work and you’re scared, that’s a good thing. You should be worried about whether you can do it.”
“When it came to Euphoria, I just wanted to make sure that my fans knew, even the ones who were my age or older than me, that I still felt their support even if they felt that the material was too triggering for them or if they didn’t feel ready or comfortable watching,” Zendaya added. “[At the same time,] I didn’t want to limit [myself] as an artist. I want to be able to do the things that I want to do and play the roles that I want to play.”
The 23-year-old explained how she has a “heavy responsibility on her shoulders” to be a role model to her younger fans.
“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,” she 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. Hopefully I’ll be in a space 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.”
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