The South African

Zendaya is youngest to win Emmy for best actress in a drama series

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American singer and actress Zendaya Coleman made history at the virtual 72nd Emmy award ceremony on Sunday 20 September by becoming the youngest winner for Best Lead Actress in Drama. 

What’s more, she is also the only black woman to take this Emmy.

Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman, best-known for her role in the Disney Channel series Shake It Up, is 24.

Zendaya’s reaction

Zendaya was teary-eyed with joy when she found out she had won. She gathered friends and family to celebrate as she delivered her “virtual” acceptance speech. 

The first black woman to win Outstanding Lead Actress in Drama was Viola Davis in 2015. The Television Academy gave her the accolade for her phenomenal performance as Annalise Keating in How to Get Away With Murder.

Davis sent out a congratulatory tweet for the winners, #BettingOnBlack and celebrating excellence.

The other Emmy nominees 

Other actresses in the running for the “Outstanding Lead Actress in Drama” award were:

  • Sandra Oh as Eve Polastri in Killing Eve
  • Jodie Comer as Villanelle in Killing Ev
  • Laura Linney as Wendy Byrde in Ozark
  • Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth The Crown 
  • Jennifer Aniston as Alex Levy in The Morning Show 

‘Euphoria’ shines

Zendaya plays the lead role of Rue in Euphoria. In the series she is a drug addict who returns from rehab with no intention of staying clean.

The show aired in 2019 on HBO and challenges topics such as anger issues, sexual insecurities, addiction and anxiety. 

A creation of Sam Levinson, Euphoria won three Emmys, with the other two awards for :

  • Outstanding Contemporary Make-up (Non-Prosthetic)
  • Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics.

It had six nominations in total and was also in the running in the categories:

  • Outstanding Contemporary Costumes
  • Outstanding Music Composition for a Series
  • Outstanding Music Supervision. 

More diverse Emmys?

According to Deadline online entertainment magazine there has been a substantial change from 2019 to 2020 in historically marginalised communities. Specifically, there is more representation for black actors and performers.

This year more than 30 people of colour were nominated for an award.



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