Euphoria‘s Zendaya, 24, made history at the 2020 Emmys on Sunday night, becoming the youngest ever best actress in a drama series winner, beating fellow nominee Jodie Comer, who won last year at the age of 26.
Zendaya is also the second Black woman to win the award, following Viola Davis, who won for her work on How to Get Away With Murder, in 2015.
The former Disney Channel star who left her family-friendly past behind to play a teenage recovering drug addict in the HBO series beat out The Morning Show‘s Jennifer Aniston, The Crown‘s Olivia Colman, Ozark‘s Laura Linney and Killing Eve‘s Comer and Sandra Oh.
Zendaya was joined by her family and team from a remote location on Sunday night as those gathered with the actress, who wore a formal dress, loudly cheered for her win.
Amid thanking the TV Academy, HBO, production company A24, creator Sam Levinson and the other women in her category, Zendaya reflected on the current climate
“This feels like a really weird time to be celebrating,” she said, before adding, “There’s hope in the young people out there.”
And to her “peers out there doing the work in streets,” Zendaya said, “I see you, I admire you, I thank you…”
Speaking in the virtual press room after her win, Zendaya, who noted during her acceptance speech that she was crying, said of being the youngest winner in the category, “I don’t usually cry and I got through it without it taking over me completely, but it’s obviously a very emotional moment, and I still can’t believe it myself.”
She added, “I’m just grateful for moments like this, moments where we can have joy and we can wrap our arms around our loved ones and tell each other we love each other and we’re proud of each other. It’s moments like this we really have to hold onto and cherish so I’m just grateful that my whole family is here to celebrate with me.”
The actress also reflected on her role as Rue in Euphoria, calling the character a “full human being,” who’s “layered” and “complicated.”
“As the show goes on, we’re able to empathize with addiction and what that looks like and does to a family and understand and still root for Rue,” she said. “We’re able to understand what’s going through her head and how she views everything that happens to her … for me, I’ve always been very grateful for all of the people who feel they connect to Rue or feel that through the show they’ve been able to attach words or a scene or moment when they otherwise felt alone or like the only person dealing with or having those thoughts. Rue is very very important to me, I care about her deeply.”
Zendaya’s win is the third Emmy for Euphoria, which was nominated for six awards for its first season, which aired on HBO last year. The series also picked up two awards at the five-night Creative Arts ceremonies, for contemporary makeup (non-prosthetic) and original music and lyrics.