Talent is something the entertainment industry has an abundance of around the world.
As much as we are quick to celebrate seasoned actors who unfailingly impress with every role, we sometimes fail to properly acknowledge the fresh pool of talent joining the industry, especially those who are so ripe with potential.
Zendaya’s performance in the hugely-anticipated second season of Sam Levinson’s “Euphoria” made me take stock of this oversight.
The former Disney star has not only blown me away but her performance is a solid confirmation that the future of the industry is in good hands.
At the moment, there is understandably a lot of buzz around her romance with “Spider-Man: No Way Home” co-star Tom Holland.
Admittedly, the two are adorable together, with her being a few inches taller giving us a Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes vibe, albeit a younger version of that now estranged couple.
But can we just pause for a second and simply appreciate Zendaya’s prowess as Rue Bennett, a drug-addled teenager trying to make sense of the pain of loss and life while, at the same time, being confident in her sexuality?
The first episode of the second season is in your face, especially with the violence and full-frontal nudity. Call it a baptism by fire into the world of adolescence, if you will.
There’s this unbridled freedom as drugs are peddled around like sweets at a house party on New Year’s Eve.
Amid the high, several of the characters are grappling with myriad struggles, flaccid relationships, forbidden desires, mental struggles and a lack of confidence to simply trying to survive a bad situation.
In this chaos, Rue finds herself in a room with a boy named Elliot (Dominic Fike) and they enjoy a cocktail of drugs until Rue almost goes into cardiac arrest and he helps stabilise her heart rate with Adderall.
She has a sort of kindred connection with Elliot.
Not long after, Rue reconnects with her transgender girlfriend Jules and they kiss and make up.
Meanwhile, Cassie Howard (Sydney Sweeney) finds herself in an entanglement with Nate Jacobs (Jacob Elordi), who has serious daddy issues. And Nate is still dealing with the aftermath of his father Carl (Eric Dane) making a sex tape with Jules.
Oblivious to Cassie doing the nasty with Nate, Maddy Perez (Alexa Demie), who is also Cassie’s BFF, decides she wants to get back with Nate.
Lexi (Maude Apatow) finds herself drawn to Fezco (Angus Cloud), a drug dealer who is also a close friend of Rue’s.
Then there is Kat Hernandez (Barbie Ferreira) who, aside from body positivity issues, is unsure of her relationship. And her insecurity fester to the point where it manifests in some crazy fantasies – one of which is a Khal Drogo-esque (“Game of Thrones”) steamy sex scene.
Although Rue continues with her meetings at Narcotics Anonymous, she does so with much reluctance but her sponsor Ali (Colman Domingo) remains supportive.
After watching Euphoria, I now understand the hype around Zendaya. She is such a natural, slipping into the skin of her doped-up and sexually liberated character with such effortlessness.
She nails the nuances of a teenager with a subdued irreverence for rules or societal norms. She suppresses her emotions with drugs and is drawn to a more carefree buzz.
If anything, Zendaya reminds me of your young Terry Pheto (“Tsotsi”), Nomzama Mbatha (“Isibaya”) and Noxolo Dlamini (“Jiva!”) – a young actress with immense potential to one day be celebrated as an industry legend.
And, right now, her star is shining bright as she trailblazers her way through Hollywood!
“Euphoria” season 2 is streaming on Showmax.