“One time for the Black Girls!!!” wrote stylist Law Roach on Instagram, debuting longtime client Zendaya’s covers for Elle’s December issue. “[T]his is for all the fly ass black girls that have inspired me over the years,” he added.
What makes perennial cover star Zendaya’s latest cover so Black girl-magical? Maybe it’s the waist-length red-hued braids celebrity mane-tamer Kim Kimble gave the Emmy-winning star of HBO’s Euphoria. (Kimble being just one member of Zendaya’s all-Black, all-star crew, which also included Law, longtime artist Sheika Daley and photographer Micaiah Carter.) Or perhaps it’s Law’s pairing of sparkling haute couture and soon-to-be-released Nike Dunk High x Ambush kicks that put some extra sauce on this holiday spectacular. Either way, the celebratory cover shots now feel like icing on the cake that was the recent record turnout among Black Gen Z voters in the 2020 presidential election, which let us know that the kids are going to be alright, after all—and with their help, we hopefully will be, too.
“[I]t feels like a very hopeless time, specifically in this country,” Zendaya told Dune co-star Timothée Chalamet in the interview for her cover story, which took place ahead of the election. “I know a lot of my peers feel enraged and exhausted and tired of living and growing up in a system that feels like it wasn’t built for us. At this moment in time, it is hard to find joy and beauty in things, and I really think that is important. Right now, we as Black people need to embrace joy and not let it be taken away from us.”
For Zendaya, joy amid the pandemic has come through creating—whether the two bridge episodes of Euphoria that will debut as a Christmas special this December (h/t Entertainment Weekly) or the already controversial Malcolm & Marie, the quarantine-shot film she produced and stars in opposite John David Washington. “I experience moments of joy when I’m able to create art and be involved in projects that I connect to deeply,” she says.
No doubt Zendaya also found joy in the enthusiasm that eked out a Democratic victory this election season, after doing her part to help galvanize the young vote this season. “Shit, I mean, all you can do is encourage people and help share information,” she says.
“I find hope in my peers, the people who are out there on the streets doing the work—people I admire and I go to for advice and information on what’s happening, so that I can make sure I’m using my platform in the most strategic way I can to help,” the 24-year-old, who made Emmy history this year as the youngest-ever lead actress winner for a drama series, explains. “There is so much hope in young people, and when I say young people, I do mean myself—people my own age—but I also mean younger. These really young kids are so smart and have such a clear understanding and plan for how they want this world to change. Even my little nieces! They are so aware, and I mean, I can take credit for some of that, because I’ve been schooling them. But they also have their own point of view. We have discussions about [the world]. They know what’s up, and they want to be part of that change.”
Zendaya’s cover story appears in full in the December 2020 issue.