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Zendaya’s Euphoric Rise

Last Updated: February 28, 2022
With the end of Euphoria’s second season, the power of Zendaya stretches beyond the historic numbers put up by HBO’s trippy teen drama.

The second season of Euphoria has put Zendaya’s Rue Bennett through the wringer — full of heartbreak, relapse, grief, and more. Rue is at the center of a chaotic ecosystem in and around East Highland High School. Maybe the only thing more mind-numbing than her character’s struggles, actually, is just how rapidly Zendaya’s star has risen.

Since Sam Levinson’s provocative teen drama premiered on HBO and HBO Max in June 2019, fans have never truly been able to predict what (or who) will pop off from one episode to the next.

As heartbreaking as Rue’s struggle with addiction is to watch, we can take solace in one unquestionable truth: the 25-year-old bonafide star masterfully portraying Rue has it all figured out.

Zendaya (born Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman) is on a trajectory to soon be in a galaxy of her own —but she is cautious to assume that her global fame and influx of money will last forever.

In British Vogue‘s October 2021 issue, Zendaya shared that she frequently goes to therapy to work through the stress she feels about her ascendant rise and managing her pocketbook:

“The hope is to have a career where you can be in a position, financially, to just do things you want to do because you enjoy the work and not have to worry about the other things. But I’m always like, ‘I will always need to work.’ Because if I don’t work then everything can be gone tomorrow.”

Career Highlight Reel

  • Starred in Disney’s Shake It Up from 2010-13, and then played the titular character in the network’s K.C. Undercover series from 2015-18
  • Competed as the then-youngest person ever on Dancing With the Stars at 16 years old in 2013, taking home second place
  • Released her self-titled debut album just months after her DWTS success
  • Debuted as Michelle “MJ” Jones in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming. She has continued in the role opposite Tom Holland’s Peter Parker — her on-screen and real-life love interest — throughout director Jon Watts’ trilogy, which included Far from Home (2019) and No Way Home (2021)
  • Became the the youngest-ever Primetime Emmy winner in 2020 for best actress in a drama series for her work in Euphoria‘s first season
  • Performed “All For Us” in Euphoria‘s first season finale
  • Executive produced the 2020 stand-alone special Euphoria episode “Trouble Don’t Always Last”
  • Co-wrote (and sang) “I’m Tired” for the Euphoria second season finale, alongside soundtrack composer Labrinth
  • Tapped as the newest face of Valentino in December 2020
  • Voiced Lola Bunny for the LeBron James-fronted Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021)
  • Teamed with Levinson for the 2021 romantic Netflix drama Malcolm & Marie — starring as Marie, opposite John David Washington’s Malcolm — and nominated for her role at the 2022 NAACP Image Awards
  • Joined the star-studded cast of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune (2021) as Chari — a character set to be a central part of the forthcoming sequel
  • Starred in Squarespace’s “Sally’s Seashells” Super Bowl LVI commercial alongside André 300

Booming Box Office Cash

All figures via IMDB’s Box Office Mojo:

  • Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021): $1.8-plus billion at the global box office — 6th all-time
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019): $1.13-plus billion at the global box office
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017): $880.2 million at the global box office
  • The Greatest Showman (2017): $437 million at the global box office
  • Dune (2021): $400.4 million at the global box office
  • Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021): $162.9 million at the global box office

Zendaya’s Social Impressions

  • Instagram followers: 131 million
  • Twitter followers: 20.2 million
  • YouTube subscribers: 3.78 million
  • Spotify monthly listeners: 14.3 million
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Blemish-Free Endorsements and Partnerships

  • Fashion: Valentino, Tommy Hilfiger, Dolce & Gabbana, Boohoo
  • Beauty: CoverGirl, Chi Haircare, Lancôme
  • Tech: Beats by Dre, Squarespace

Zendaya is emerging in the modern era of celebrity, asserting her presence as the kind of classic movie star that feels like a rare breed post-social media. Even as access is at an all-time high, there is no shortage of demand for her.

Euphoria proved the cliche true that distance makes the heart grow fonder. Nearly three years passed between the first and second seasons, and according to Twitter, the first seven episodes of season 2 have collectively made Euphoria the most-tweeted-about television show of the decade so far with 30 million tweets.

The second season premiere inked a place in the record books, too:

As season two developed, the series’ rich aesthetic and raw plot continued to draw more eyeballs. Euphoria‘s sophomore effort only needed four episodes to improve viewership by nearly 100% from season one, as exclusively reported by Variety on Feb. 1.

The second season premiere aired Jan. 9 and drew 13.1 million viewers across HBO and HBO Max in the three subsequent weeks, “with episodes two and three tracking similarly.” In stark contrast, the series had garnered a (still wildly impressive) 6.6 million in-season average audience size for season 1.

One can only imagine the number of people who won’t be able to look away from the second season finale. It’s admittedly delusional to expect for one hour to wrap up the multitude of unresolved questions. Now that we’ve acknowledged the irrationality, we need — no, deserve — answers to these:

  • Is Rue really sober, and will she reconcile with Jules (Hunter Schafer)?
  • Will Fezco (Angus Cloud) — and his adorable bouquet of roses — make it to Lexi’s (Maude Apatow) play?
  • Will Fexi — literally — survive?
  • Does anyone die?
  • Why has Elliot (Dominic Fike) suddenly disappeared?
  • Whom is Cassie (Sydney Sweeney) going to pulverize as a result of Nate (Jacob Elordi) ending their extremely toxic relationship — at least for now?
  • Can someone please just give Gia (Storm Reid) a hug?
  • What’s up with Maddy (Alexa Demie) and Samantha (Minka Kelly)?
  • And has there ever been a better hype woman than Suze (Alanna Ubach)?

Euphoria has been renewed for season 3, so answers will hopefully come in due time. (Please, let’s not have another three years pass.) It would be rude not to credit Levinson and the entire stunningly talented ensemble cast for landing a third season, but yet again, in Zendaya, there is unquestionable truth.

There is no Euphoria without Rue.

There is no Rue without Zendaya.

And there is no stopping Zendaya, within or outside of the Euphoria universe.

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