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Zendaya Spent 2020 Rejecting Movie Scripts With Boring Female Characters

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Zendaya spent the past year turning down scripts that feature one-dimensional female characters whose sole purpose in the story is to serve men. The former Disney Channel star and current blockbuster powerhouse stars in the upcoming Netflix film Malcolm & Marie alongside John David Washington (Tenet, BlacKkKlansman), and early reviews say her performance could put her in contention for an Oscar. The film - which was shot over a two-week period during the COVID-19 pandemic - was written and directed by Euphoria creator Sam Levinson and is set to arrive on Netflix on February 5.

Malcolm & Marie is a black-and-white portrait of an up-and-coming filmmaker and his long-term girlfriend who confront their relationship's demons after Malcolm fails to thank Marie at his movie premiere. The whole film takes place in a maze-like Los Angeles home, keeping the sole focus on the characters and their complex dynamic. Marie looks to be a compelling character just from the trailer, but she's definitely not Zendaya's first multi-dimensional role. Rue, the recovering teenage drug addict in Euphoria, and Michelle Jones in Marvel's Spider-Man films are two standouts among the actress's credits.

Unfortunately, not all scripts feature interesting female characters, and Zendaya actually spent 2020 turning down those that didn't. According to GQ, Zendaya received many job offers in the past year, but few that intrigued her. She said the characters - specifically, the female characters - lacked their own personal arcs and instead revolved around the men in the story. She felt like the roles wouldn't have pushed her as an actress because they were so similar and repetitive.

Check out Zendaya's full quote below:


“It's not necessarily that any of [the scripts] were bad or something like that. I just felt like a lot of the roles that I was reading, specifically female roles, were just like, I could have played them all as the same person and it wouldn't have mattered, if that makes sense. The best way to describe it is just like, they'd usually serve the purpose of helping the male character get to where they need to go, do what they need to do. They don't really have an arc of their own. And they usually feel very one-dimensional in the sense that there's not a lot of layers to them, meaning they all seem very kind of like the same person over and over and over again. It would have been great and it would have been fine, but I wouldn't have grown at all.”


With an Emmy for Euphoria under her belt, a spot in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and a starring role in the upcoming Dune, she certainly has room to be selective. But actresses really shouldn't have to be picky to find complex roles, as scripts with complicated, multifaceted female characters should be (and hopefully will be in the future) the norm. It's encouraging to see a young actress like Zendaya being selective about the roles she accepts in the same way that Hollywood giants like Reese Witherspoon and Jessica Chastain have been for years.

Her commitment to portraying interesting women on screen suggests Euphoria, Malcolm & Marie, and Dune are only the beginning of a long and influential career. Hopefully, she'll continue to be particular about the roles she takes on, especially when there are characters like Marie waiting to be cast. In this case, Zendaya's patience and pickiness could just win her an Oscar.

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