Zendaya Explains How She Picks Roles In Hollywood Like HBO’s Euphoria

Zendaya as Rue in her hoodie during Season 1 of Euphoria

In 2020, it has felt like Zendaya is everywhere. She’s coming off roles in the MCU and in the wildly successful The Greatest Showman. She’s set to appear in Denis Villeneuve’s behemoth film Dune later this year. And this is all while starring in her own TV series Euphoria, which is heading to HBO for Season 2. But how does she pick these myriad roles?

Zendaya has been open about how she figures out which projects are a good fit several times before, but in the case of Euphoria what drew her most to the projects was reading the script and valuing her feelings related to what she read. In a recent interview she explained further, noting,

This sounds corny, but I listened to my heart. I didn’t think strategically ‘this is the role I should be doing.’ I just fell in love with what I read, the character and there was no doubt in my mind that I needed and wanted to do this. It’s purely because I felt connected to it.

Speaking to Deadline, Zendaya recalled how she decided to play Euphoria’s Rue, a teenager returning home from rehab and struggling with drug and mental issues along the way. She also outlined that one episode in particular stuck with her following Season 1, noting Episode 7, which explores Rue going through a period of manic behaviors, was “one of the most brilliant things I ever read.”

This isn’t the first time Zendaya has spoken out about how she is drawn to roles, however. The actress previously told Marie Claire that she’s often finding herself fighting for roles that weren’t written for her and making them work for herself. She noted at the time that it's always been really important for her to at least try for roles not written for people of color and just see what happens. Sometimes good things have come out of that.

I’m an actress. We’ve all experienced getting the no’s, and that’s okay. I always say, ‘If you don’t get cast, it wasn’t yours to begin with.’ But there’s been a few things. I always tell my theatrical manager, ‘Anytime it says they’re looking for white girls, send me out. Let me get in the room. Maybe they’ll change their minds.’ And, honestly, if there’s a part that I didn’t get or that I really wanted at the time, shit always ends up working out.

This idea is actually something she thought would come up when she was trying for the role of MJ in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but it turns out the Sony MCU venture was looking to “break the rules” and try something new for its characters. Being willing to fight for a role regardless of not fitting the racial mold has taken Zendaya to some really interesting and eclectic places in her career and that doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

In fact, we’ll catch her in more Euphoria during Season 2. The new season was expected to originally hit the airwaves in 2020, but with production on various TV and movie projects just starting to figure out plans for the future, it could be a while before we learn when we will officially be getting new episodes of the series. Regardless, we'll be sure to keep you updated as soon as TV gets back on track.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.