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Zendaya’s Groundbreaking Achievement Is A Win For Black Actresses, But Raised A Few Eyebrows

Congratulations are in order for Zendaya, on her history making achievement.

Ever since making the transition from Disney star to adult triple threat, Zendaya has been landing big ticket gigs. From Greatest Showman to being cast as Spider-Man’s leading lady, Zendaya has made it her mission to make sure that everyone knows her name. High profile gigs like such, helped to establish Zendaya as a legitimate force to be recon with in cinema. Those roles were all just a teaser for what has now become her magnum opus, the role of Rue on HBO’s Euphoria.

At this past Sunday’s unprecedented Emmy award ceremony, Zendaya reached a pinnacle that few ex-Disney stars get to reach. At 24-years old, Zendaya became the youngest woman in the 72-year history of the Emmys to win the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Beating out Hollywood favorites like Jennifer Aniston and Laura Linney.

“This is so crazy. I don’t really cry,” she says before thanking the cast and crew that made the show possible. Zendaya used her acceptance speech to emphasize that there is power in the young people. And now more than ever, their voices need to be heard. Euphoria is praised for its cutting edge take, on a relatively “tried and true” plot. Euphoria follows a group of high school students as they navigate love and friendships in a world of drugs, sex, trauma and social media. Essentially, Euphoria is like a modern day Degrassi - but with the dial turned all the way up.

Zendaya joins Viola Davis as the only Black women to ever win in this category. Viola broke the color barrier when she won the award in 2015, for her iconic role as Annalise Keating in How To Get Away With Murder. As amazing of a feat it is for Zendaya to have walked away with the award, many on social media gave the Academy the side eye. 72-years and only two Black actresses have been given this achievement? This is nothing to glaze over, as one can produce a laundry list of worthy recipients over the last 72 years. The fact that only 5-years ago the color barrier was broken for this category, is very troubling to some. However, it can be considered a glimmer of hope to those who can see the silver lining.

This moment, if nothing at all, feels like a change in the trajectory of American television, and a step in the right direction for young actresses of color. A changing of the old guard, considering the Hollywood heavyweights that Zendaya was up against.

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