Zendaya is undoubtedly one of Hollywood’s brightest young stars – and one of Black Hollywood’s wildest dreams. At just 24 years old, the actress has led two successful series on two of the biggest networks in TV land; costarred in a huge blockbuster Marvel film; and become the youngest woman ever to win the Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a drama, Euphoria. As much as the actress and activist has broken barriers in her past, it’s her present and future in Hollywood that’s winning.
For ESSENCE’s November + December issue, Zendaya graces the cover with stunning and picturesque black and white imagery that pays tribute to icons of the past while squarely establishing her as a leading force in the present and an icon of the future. The special issue is part of the brand’s ongoing 50th anniversary celebration and also features Zendaya on three bonus digital covers (with fashion styling and creative direction led by renowned celeb stylist Law Roach.) In her cover story, A Work of Art, Zendaya talks to writer Sylvia Obell about everything from her historic Emmy win, speaking truth to power and carrying our legacy forward. She tells ESSENCE:
- ON WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH HER MIND RIGHT BEFORE HER HISTORIC EMMY WINNING: “There’s a video of me that a family friend took while I was waiting, and you can see my leg shaking. In my head I was like, ‘Dude, just chill out. What will be, will be.’ I remember taking a deep breath, and then hearing my name, and then my family screamed. I was worried that if they kept screaming for too long, I wouldn’t have any time to actually say anything—but I didn’t want to stop them, because they were having a great time. It was a very special night. I’ll definitely remember that one forever…”
- ON RECEIVING SUPPORT FROM OTHER BLACK WOMEN AFTER HER EMMY WIN: “I’m honored to have that support, especially from my fellow young Black creatives. Through this Emmy’s period, especially, I felt a strong sense of support within our community, which I’m really grateful for. I think what’s slowly starting to happen is, artists like Issa Rae and Lena Waithe have created opportunities that have resulted in more of us being in these rooms. That’s such a special feeling, and I think it’s definitely changing the idea that there can only be “one at a time,” which is false. I love to see that genuine love and respect for each other’s work. I hope that we continue to expand that in all kinds of beautiful ways, because I think we’re on a really good path…”
- ON LAW ROACH’S CREATIVE + FASHION DIRECTION: “I also felt very excited that ESSENCE allowed Law [Roach] and me to be a part of the creative team and do something a little bit different. I had so much fun on this shoot paying homage to Donyale Luna, the first Black supermodel. A lot of what I do, specifically within fashion, is a tribute to fashion icons who came before me—many of whom are Black women. I love the way it turned out. I’m very proud of it. It’s one of my favorite cover shoots I’ve ever done.”
- ON FILMING “MALCOLM & MARIE” WHEN THE PANDEMIC FIRST SHUT DOWN: “It was a dream, because I’ve always wanted to be able to just strip everything away. I love what I do—and like most people, I was finding ways to stay inspired and stay creative, and luckily I know people who are the same way. It was great sitting in a room with John David Washington, Marcell Rév and Sam [Levinson], literally writing scenes as we went, coming up with ideas as we moved through the characters, and finding new things every day. That was the coolest part. That is why I do this.”
- HER NEW YEAR’S WISH FOR BLACK WOMEN: “For us to continue to fully realize our power and harness it to do great things, because we are incredibly powerful. We’re often convinced that we’re not, and taught to shrink—but we have to believe in our collective power. I always think of that Beyoncé song, ‘They’ll never take my power, my power, my power.’ Let’s take that energy into the new year…”
ESSENCE’s November + December issue also includes a special Election 2020 package featuring a History Maker profile on Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris and her historic run for the White House. In the piece, News & Politics editor Tanya Christian details her year-plus coverage of the Senator—including her live appearance at the 2019 ESSENCE Festival of Culture in New Orleans during her presidential run. The issue also features The Black Women Behind the Biden-Harris Campaign, an article showcasing key movers and shakers who helped drive the campaign to victory.
ESSENCE’s November + December issue hits newsstands on November 24th.