Top Five Zendaya Roles Leading to her Historic Emmys Win

From Disney Channel’s Shake It Up to blockbusters like Spider-Man: Far From Home, here are the top five Zendaya roles that lead to her historic Emmys win for ‘Euphoria.’

Last night at the 2020 Emmy Awards, Zendaya made history by becoming the youngest person EVER to win the Best Lead Actress category! Beating out more experienced and historically critically acclaimed actors such as Jennifer Anniston, Laura Linney, and Olivia Coleman, Zendaya’s win was called the biggest “upset” of the night, leading to a backlash from fans who mistook the term, which in this instance means a surprise win. There is no denying Zendaya’s talent and success. As she and her fans have grown up, so has her content, starting on Disney Channel before moving onto blockbuster movies and finally her HBO show. Here are the top five Zendaya roles that got her to where she is now!

Zendaya first came onto our radar in 2010, when she starred in the Disney Channel Original Series Shake It Up alongside Bella Thorne. The show ran for three seasons and followed high schoolers CeCe (Thorne) and Rocky (Zendaya) in their adventures as backup dancers for a local show and as normal high schoolers making friends and getting by. The pair also starred in the hit DCOM Frenemies in 2012, so you know their on-screen chemistry is off the charts!

Zendaya returned to Disney as the lead in the original show K.C. Undercover, which was about Zendaya as a teenager K.C. who becomes a spy. Running from 2015-2018, the show had three seasons packed with fun and adventure. Plus, Zendaya even sang the theme song!

Zendaya made her way into the mainstream with her role in 2017’s The Greatest Showman, also starring big names such as Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, and Zac Efron (with whom she has a romance in the film). The movie musical tells the story of P.T. Barnum, famous for founding what became the Barnum & Bailey Circus and for being something of a con man, trying to get his business off the ground. It also focuses on his relationship with his family; both his traditional one and the one built with the performers in his show. Featuring music from Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who also worked on La La Land and Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen, The Greatest Showman was nominated at the Golden Globes and the Oscars for its music and acting accomplishments despite receiving mixed reviews.

In one of her most hype-generating roles to date, Zendaya was cast as MJ/Michelle Jones in the new Spider-Man movies, appearing in Spider-Man: Homecoming in 2017 and Spider-Man: Far From Home in 2019 with a third film on the way. Starring alongside Tom Holland, Zendaya’s role sparked controversy from the beginning as racist internet trolls attacked her once it was revealed that she might be playing Mary Jane Watson, Peter Parker’s love interest who is traditionally white with red hair. However, thanks to fans’ support and her amazing acting chops, Zendaya and the latest Spider-Man movies have seen tons of success — the second film is Sony’s highest-grossing film ever and the first Spider-Man movie to pass the $1 billion mark at the box office. We can’t wait to see Zendaya in the next installment, coming in 2021!

And now for the role that got her the Emmy, Euphoria! Zendaya stars in this HBO series as a high schooler whose addiction to drugs and previous overdose loom over her as she and her peers work through the topics of sex, identity, friendships, and love. Euphoria has been praised for its cinematography, story, and performances, and is widely loved and talked about by fans of all ages. The show’s first season premiered in 2019, and it has been renewed for a second season as well. Besides Zendaya’s Lead Actress award, Euphoria also won Emmys for Makeup and Original Music and was nominated for an additional four Emmys on top of that. Although filming for the second season has been postponed due to COVID, we’ll be eagerly awaiting the premiere to see what happens to Rue and her friends next.

BONUS: Coming in 2020, Zendaya is set to star in Dune alongside Timothée Chalamet and her Greatest Showman co-star Rebecca Ferguson! The film is based on the 1965 science fiction novel, which also had a previous film adaptation by David Lynch in 1984. The upcoming 2020 version is directed by Denis Villeneuve and will cover roughly the first half of the original book with a second installation planned as well. The first trailer was recently released, and you can check it out here!

About the Author

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Tea Kingley

Tea Kingley is a senior at Emerson College who is majoring in Marketing and Film. She is passionate about all things entertainment and loves being both in front of the camera and a member of the crew. Tea also enjoys marketing, social media, and writing. She's a TV, movie, and pop culture aficionado. Tea is always eager to discuss the latest releases and news.