Who is Zendaya? The young Black actress making Emmys history

by Christopher Johnson | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Monday, 21 September 2020 21:00 GMT

Zendaya is seen at the 25th Critics Choice Awards, Santa Monica, California, U.S., January 12, 2020. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

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The 24-year-old is the youngest woman to win an Emmy for best actress in a drama - and only the second Black woman to do so

Sept 21 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - American actress Zendaya made Emmys history when she became the youngest woman to take home the award for best actress in a drama series - and only the second Black woman to do so.  

Zendaya, 24, won at the 72nd Emmy Awards for playing a teen drug addict in "Euphoria," beating "Killing Eve" stars Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh, "Ozark" actress Laura Linney, Olivia Coleman in "The Crown" and Jennifer Aniston in "The Morning Show."

The only Black actress to win the award previously was Viola Davis in 2015 for the series "How to Get Away with Murder".

But who is Zendaya?

    - Zendaya was born on Sept. 1 1996, in Oakland, California, to a white mother of German descent and an African American father. She is one of six.

    - Her full name Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman is a nod to her German and African ancestry. Her first name was inspired by a word in the Shona language of the Shona people of Zimbabwe which means "to give thanks"

    - Zendaya began her career in 2008 as a model for the U.S. retail stores Macy's and Old Navy

    - In 2010, the then 14-year-old Zendaya landed a debut acting role as Rocky Blue on the hit Disney Channel show "Shake it Up" that followed two best friends - played by Zendaya and co-star Bella Thorne - chasing their dreams of being professional dancers on a local television show

    - In 2011 Zendaya released two singles, "Swag It Out" and "Watch Me" with Thorne from the soundtrack of "Shake it Up"

    - In 2012 she made a TV film called "Frenemies" with Thorne and signed a record deal with Hollywood Records, releasing her debut album in 2013

    - In 2013 Zendaya was the runner-up in the popular U.S. television dance competition show "Dancing with the Stars"

    - From 2015 to 2018, she produced and starred as the titular spy, K.C. Cooper, in the sitcom "K.C. Undercover"

    - In 2017 Zendaya made her big screen debut in Marvel's "Spider-Man: Homecoming" and "The Greatest Showman" starring alongside Hugh Jackman in the role of trapeze artist Anne Wheeler

    - In 2019 Zendaya returned to the Marvel universe reprising her role of Michelle "MJ" Jones in the second instalment of Spider man, "Spider-Man: Far from Home"

    - In June 2019, HBO's "Euphoria" debuted featuring Zendaya in the lead role of Rue

    - Zendaya has been an advocate for Black Lives Matter, using her Instagram platform of 79 million followers to showcase Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of the movement, and raise awareness about Breonna Taylor, a Black woman killed by police in her Louisville, Kentucky, home earlier this year.   

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