Zendaya is Essence magazine’s cover star for the 50th Anniversary November 2020/December 2020 issue, which is dedicated to Black resilience.
So what makes Zendaya feel strong and hopeful amid hard times? Cheering others on and lifting them up, the 24-year-old said.
“Seeing Black women win, in any form, brings me joy,” she declared. “Us being able to celebrate each other is really important and protect each other. I think now more than ever we have to protect Black women and we have to care for them and love them and appreciate them and show them that they are valued and seen in more ways than one.” She says this is especially important considering there’s “an obvious disregard for Black women specifically in this country” and sends an empowering message: “To all the beautiful Black women out there, we have to continue to be fearless and do what we do unapologetically and continue to lift each other up and love on each other.”
Zendaya noted that in the entertainment industry, where opportunities for Black women aren’t aplenty, she prioritizes celebrating her peers’ accomplishments, crediting people like Issa Rae and Lena Waithe for inspiring her to think big and one day try cinematography and directing.
“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,” she stated. “I’m so inspired by all the incredible Black women in my field, creatively, who have taken over this industry and created beautiful work and continue to showcase storytelling in many different ways and inspire me to take my shit to the next level.”
Zendaya, who became the youngest woman to win best actress in a drama series in September for her role in HBO’s Euphoria, also said that with young Black people feeling like they were birthed into a system that was not built for them, it is up to the youth to create change.
“..The people in charge don’t like to listen to us,” she continued. “But it’s important to lean into hope and lean into the beautiful things that I see my peers doing, whether through their activism or through their art. It’s extremely inspiring for me to watch and be a part of. I wanted to speak to the power of that and let them know, what you’re fighting for does mean something, and you are supported and seen.”
The actress, who channels the late supermodel Donyale Luna in the black and white photoshoot for Essence (Luna was generally known to be the world’s first Black supermodel), has been dominating magazine covers as of late having already appeared on InStyle’s September 2020 cover where she wore only Black designers and Elle’s December 2020/January 2021 cover.
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