Spider-Man’s Zendaya Talks About How She Approaches Activism Without Being Active Social Media

Zendaya as MJ in Far From Home
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Zendaya is one of the most talked-about celebs of the moment, and for good reason. As if her incredibly chic style didn’t automatically make her a superstar, her acting prowess has landed her a starring role in Marvel Studios’ Spider-Man franchise and an Emmy-winning turn as Rue on HBO’s Euphoria. But as a young woman in the public eye, it can be challenging to navigate one’s belief systems in the potential minefield of social media. So how does she stick to her convictions? By forgoing retweets and likes in favor of walking the walk. 

Ahead of the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home, Zendaya sat down with fellow actor Colman Domingo for a chat for Interview. During the conversation, she discussed her continually rising star and her views on the increasingly precarious world of social media. The Oakland native isn’t very active on Twitter or Instagram, setting her apart from many of her peers. According to her, however, her low-key Internet presence is totally intentional - but not for the reasons you may think. She said: 

I always think, in what ways is my voice most potent or palpable? I’m not really active on social media like I used to be, but that’s for a reason. I love saying how I feel and speaking out about things, but I also don’t want to say that I just tweeted my life away. That I just tweeted about something, but what did I actually do about it? Hopefully my ability to be a storyteller, to make those stories that I haven’t seen, to showcase different forms of Black love and the different colors of our emotional experience—that will be my speaking out. That’s my action. Because we learn how to be a person not just through interactions, but by watching movies and TV. You want to be like your favorite character. So many people have built the personas that they take out into the world based on what they’ve seen in the media.

She may only be twenty-five, but the star's perspicacious outlook indicates a wisdom beyond her years. The Dune actress seems to place value on the stories she creates, rather than her follower counts. That’s not to say she doesn’t appreciate the positive outcomes that can spring from social media - she’s just a bit more selective when it comes to the content she chooses to consume. The Greatest Showman alum explained: 

I don’t look at Twitter that much because I think it’s like going into the garbage can, and you’ve got to be careful what you’re going to pick out of it. But sometimes you find a gem. And this one dude, he sent me a DM saying, ‘Thank you so much for that episode. I didn’t feel so alone anymore. And I feel like I can go on another day.’ It still makes me want to cry when I think about it. There was also a woman who said, “You helped me to understand my son, and not to judge him but to understand it’s a disease.” So, that’s the whole framework of Euphoria. If we can do that, man, we’re changing the world. Our art can really impact lives—that’s the purpose.

If Zendaya’s work on Euphoria is encouraging her fans to broaden their emphatic horizons, or remind them of their inherent worth, it seems like her personal brand of activism is already having an impact. Though you probably won't see her on the web that often, you can see the star alongside Tom Holland's web-slinger again when Spider-Man: No Way Home hits theaters on December 17.

Rachel Romean

Actor, singer, and occasional dancer. Likes: fashion, books, old buildings. Dislikes: cilantro, the NJ Turnpike, sneaker wedges.