Zendaya has always been a talented actress and singer, and she’s grown up before our eyes. Now, she’s evolving into a powerful force in entertainment, leveling the playing field and standing up for artists, one project at a time.
From KC Undercover to The Greatest Showman to Euphoria, Zendaya's career has already traveled an incredible arc and launched her among the industry's elite. The youngest-ever woman to win an Emmy award, she knows how much hard work it takes to produce top-quality art both in front and behind the camera.
Now, Zendaya is coming into her own in the age of COVID-19 and beginning to make her own projects -- her way. Along with co-star John David Washington, the duo co-owns and executive produces their movie, Malcolm & Marie.
“I’ve never been in a situation or in a spot where I can say that not only did I invest into my own movie, but I also own part of my own movie. So when it does well, I do well and I’m taken care of on that side as well so my contributions are valid.”
For Malcolm & Marie, which they secretly shot in a bubble under strict, COVID-safe protocols, Zendaya also instituted other key practices. She made sure that the creatives who worked on her film got proper credit and fully commiserate pay.
“On this movie, you know, we created a financial structure, where people got points on the movie and got paid,” she told reporters.
For Zendaya, fairly compensating cast and crew meant giving them a real chance at ownership -- a perk rarely offered to industry professionals other than "suits" and elite talent with leverage.
“I just think it’s crazy that crew members don’t have, don’t usually get points on their movies, aren’t invested in that sense because they show up to work every day,” she said. “They’re the ones who are laying the tracks and doing all the heavy lifting.”
Ever the innovator, Zendaya and the cast helped keep things safe by taking on as many "do-it-yourself" duties as they could. Speaking to Pharrell Williams on his podcast, Zendaya shared how she created her own looks for the film.
"During the shoot: “I’m doing my own hair and makeup in the bathroom and brought a lot of my clothes to help with set [decoration],” she said.
On top of that, the Sam Levinson film had no assistant director, “so we’re figuring out continuity and stuff like that on our own,” Zendaya shared.
Check out the Malcolm & Marie trailer below:
In the end, the young mogul-in-the-making is shattering the ceiling toward ownership, opening a pathway for more black and brown people -- and especially brown women -- to see themselves being more, doing more and owning more in the traditionally white male-controlled entertainment industry.