In a recent interview with GQ for their February 2021 issue, the Dune actress opened up about breaking out of her shy, reserved identity as a preteen.
“In this industry, I had to learn how to do small talk and stuff, because I guess I would kind of come off cold to people because I didn't really know how to start a conversation,” she told GQ. “I remember my stylist was like, ‘You come off kind of cold. People think you're mean because you don't talk,’ when really I just was too nervous.”
As someone who’s left a major footprint in Hollywood already at such a young age, it’s no surprise that she feels that she’s the most herself when she’s working. Her friend and Euphoria costar Hunter Schaffer thinks of her as a “force,” telling GQ, “I feel so lucky to be learning how to act next to her.” Another close-friend and veteran director of Zendaya-involved projects, Euphoria and Malcolm & Marie, Sam Levinson, describes her as a “formidable force as a person and an actor.”
But, when the pandemic hit and she wasn’t able to continue acting, Zendaya felt like her “powers had gone away.” It had been the first time since she was 13 years old that she “didn’t go back to something,” she said. “There was no structure.”
“It was my first time just being like, ‘Okay, who am I without this?’” she explained. “Which is a very scary thing to confront and work through, because I don't really know Zendaya outside of the Zendaya who works. I didn't realise how much my job and my art were a part of my identity as a human.”
“I didn’t really know who I was and what makes me happy,” she added later in the interview. “What do I like to do? What else do I do? What is my value? What is my purpose now?”
That’s something that Zendaya is still working on. Finding yourself and learning who you are outside of your work life or school is a struggle and takes time. If you yourself are struggling to understand who you are outside of your studies, part-time work, or friends, remember that even an Emmy-award-winning icon of our times doesn’t know who they are.
And, if someone you know seems like they’re cold and distant towards you and others, realise that in most cases, it isn’t about you, they have their own issues they’re dealing with, and ultimately, things are a lot more nuanced and less personal than they seem.
Next up, Zendaya will demo why she was awarded an Emmy for Best Actress in a Drama series in the Sam Levinson directed film for Netflix, Malcolm & Marie.
Lead image source: Zendaya’s instagram.