OPINION: Zendaya won her first Emmy: here’s why that’s important


Denaya Lewis

Zendaya winning an Emmy for her role in “Euphoria” shows young Black girls that any dream can be achieved. Graphic by Hailey Stessman/The Gateway

Earlier this year, the hit HBO show “Euphoria“ received considerable pushback for glorifying teenage drug abuse. It became the epitome of teenage angst, with the main character Rue battling anxiety, depression, self-harm, drug abuse and emotional abuse. Former Disney star Zendaya Coleman, the actress who played Rue, dug deeply into her role.

Despite the negative subject matter of this show, it was an instant hit—with a related hashtag trending weekly after a new episode. The hashtag #EuphoriaHBO trended number one in the United States and number three worldwide on Twitter after the premiere.

Months after the show aired, Zendaya became the youngest Emmy award winner for a lead actress role at the Emmy Awards Show. She is also the second Black woman to ever win this award, preceded only by Viola Davis. The Emmy award is arguably the highest award you can win as an actor or actress. Most go their whole career without one. Especially for people of color in the entertainment industry, Emmys are almost unattainable.

While recieving this award is monumental in and of itself, the 24-year-old has outdone herself. She beat out well seasoned actresses like as Jennifer Aniston, Olivia Coleman, Sam Levinson, Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer and Laura Linney.

She even had the hashtag #upsetwin trending the night of the Emmys as fans expressed their distaste with Zendaya beating out the older actresses. I think it is important to see someone so young achieving big things like this.

“But I just want to say there is hope in the young people out there – I know that our TV show doesn’t always feel like a great example of that – but there is hope in our young people and I just want to say to all my peers out there doing the work in the streets, ‘I see you, I admire you, I thank you.'” said Zendaya.

Not only is she a great example for young people to look up to, I think for Black girls specifically, this makes a statement that the sky is limitless. In an industry that doesn’t value our artistry, seeing someone that looks like you receive flowers for their work can be all you need to keep going.

Zendaya has worked hard from her early teenage years until now, all while maintaining a positive image of grace and splendor for young girls. This award is more than well deserved.

Overall, I think this sends a signal to young Black girls that every dream you have is attainable.

That no matter how hard it may seem; through hard work you can do anything.