Zendaya knows all too well about the importance of Black joy.
In an interview conducted by Timothée Chalamet — her friend and co-star in the upcoming feature film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel, Dune — the 24-year-old actress opened about the importance of not only finding joy, but holding on to it in a year like 2020 when we're all up against something in some way or another.
"In your [Emmy acceptance] speech, you said that there’s hope in the young people, and it seemed hope was a big part of a message that you were trying to get across," Timothée said before asking, "In the past year, what has given you hope? And what does hope mean to you?"
"Well, my intention there was really just to be honest, because it feels like a very hopeless time, specifically in the US," Zendaya said of her September Emmy speech, which she gave after becoming the youngest woman to win best actress for a drama series. "I know a lot of my peers feel enraged and exhausted and tired of living and growing up in a system that feels like it wasn’t built for us. At this moment in time, it is hard to find joy and beauty in things, and I really think that is important. Right now, we as Black people need to embrace joy and not let it be taken away from us."
The Euphoria star went on to discuss how she embraces joy in her own life, saying, "I experience moments of joy when I’m able to create art and be involved in projects that I connect to deeply, whether it be Euphoria or Malcolm & Marie, the movie I shot during quarantine with [Euphoria creator] Sam Levinson."
Zendaya continued, "Another thing that gives me joy is seeing people’s responses to my work. With Euphoria, it’s been incredibly moving to see how people connected to what Sam has written. I’ve heard so many beautiful stories about addiction and recovery, and that brings me hope."
And when it comes to what brings her hope these days, Zendaya shared that it's not only her peers but the younger generation, who is fighting for a better future as they lead the charge against systemic racism and injustice in the U.S.
"I find hope in my peers, the people who are out there on the streets doing the work – people I admire and I go to for advice and information on what’s happening, so that I can make sure I’m using my platform in the most strategic way I can to help," she explained. "There is so much hope in young people, and when I say young people, I do mean myself – people my own age – but I also mean younger."
"These really young kids are so smart and have such a clear understanding and plan for how they want this world to change," Zendaya added. "Even my little nieces! They are so aware and, I mean, I can take credit for some of that, because I’ve been schooling them. But they also have their own point of view. We have discussions about [the world]. They know what’s up, and they want to be part of that change."
Elsewhere in the interview, Zendaya opened up about the upcoming season of Euphoria, what it was like filming Dune, and more.
Check out her full interview with Timothée for the December issue of Elle, HERE!
Photo: Getty Images