Zendaya made history at the Emmys last night

And here’s how she did it.

by Douglas Greenwood
21 September 2020, 10:17am

We are not worthy of Zendaya: the actor and musician who’s finessed the post-Disney lifestyle so immaculately that it’s a wonder any other performers on planet earth even bother trying. She proved that power last night, when she took home (does that phrase still work during pandemic awards ceremonies?) what many consider to be the biggest possible Emmy award — aka an Oscars for television — a performer can win: Best Lead Actress in a Drama series, for her work on Euphoria. What’s more, she made history in the process.

Having started out in the Disney Channel series Shake It Up in the early 2010s, before moving onto family-friendly popcorn fare like The Greatest Showman and the Spider-Man films, Euphoria — as we all know — was a far more adult turn for Zendaya. Across eight episodes in last year’s breakout show, she played a drug-addicted teenager figuring out poisonous relationships, while her core friend group dabbled in hook-up apps, infidelity and other extreme teen debaucheries. That she beat out legends like Jennifer Aniston and Laura Linney for the top prize is a testament to just how much she delved into that dangerous world.

So what was it that made her win history-making? Well, just one year after Jodie Comer became the youngest winner of the same prize at the 2019 Emmys — taking home the statue for Killing Eve at the age of 26 — her successor has just grabbed that title. Yep, at 24, Zendaya is the youngest ever actor to win an Emmy for Best Lead Actress in a Drama. That fact probably didn’t sink in until well after she heard the news, in this very sweet acceptance speech.

Fans of the hit HBO show will be glad to know that shooting has resumed on the much anticipated second season, which is set to hit screens around summer 2021.

Did any other gossip come out of last night’s ceremony? Well, sadly, our king Paul Mescal narrowly missed out on his trophy for his exemplary performance in Normal People, but there’s always the BAFTAs, which we’re hoping the show will sweep. Fans of Schitt’s Creek and Succession should be happy, though: the Canadian comedy (the last series of which just hit Netflix) and the Brit-American Murdoch-inspired show respectively both won big. In fact, Schitt’s Creek also made history, becoming the first series ever to win all four major acting categories, be it comedy or drama: Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Dan Levy and Annie Murphy all won their own statues for the show, as well as Outstanding Comedy Series overall.

All in all, last night’s ceremony was a strange one. Most nominees dialled in from home via video link as a number of people whizzed around Los Angeles cradling Emmys in Hazmat suits, stood at the door waiting to hand the prize over should someone win. For those who didn’t, it was a wave goodbye and the hazmat-donning presenter was on their way to the next house. 2020 truly is a simulation.

Emmy Awards