Zendaya opens up about her anxiety, refuses to call herself an activist: 'I'm just an actress'

Jenna Ryu, USA TODAY
·3-min read

Calling yourself an activist is a big role to fill and Zendaya says she doesn't feel she's "deserving of the title."

In an InStyle interview with Patrisse Cullors, the co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, the "Euphoria" star admits that while she uses her platform to raise awareness, she's "just a person who has a heart and wants to do the right thing."

"I have always hesitated to use the word 'activist' for myself. That is a lifestyle. That is a choice every day to be doing the work and devoting your life to a cause," says Zendaya, who exclusively wore brands by Black designers for her cover photoshoot, including Alietté by Jason Rembert, Hanifa by Anifa Mvuemba, Cushnie by Carly Cushnie, Christopher John Rogers' namesake label and Pyer Moss by Kerby Jean-Raymond.

The representation didn't stop there. Her stylist, Law Roach, along with the photographers, Donté Maurice and Ahmad Barber, are Black as well.

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She still does everything she can to stay educated, explaining that she's "up in the bleachers, not on the field."

"Everything that has happened (following the death of George Floyd) has been devastating. I didn't know what I could do to help," she says in the interview published Thursday. "Because at the end of the day, I'm just an actress, you know? And I don't pretend to be anything other than that. If I don't know something, then I ask people who are actually on the front lines doing the work. So I always think, 'How can I cheer you on and be a part of something greater than myself?'"

As a 23-year-old, Zendaya is a vocal and influential figure in Hollywood, though she admits that it's stressful juggling all her projects.

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"My anxiety first started when I was younger, and I had to take a test at school," she says. "I don't think it really came up again until I was about 16, when I was working and there was a project I had turned down. That was kind of my first time dealing with the internet, and it made me feel sick. I deleted everything and stayed in my room."

She adds that live performing also gave her anxiety due to "the pressure I put on myself, wanting to do my best and not make a mistake." However, she acknowledges that talking about her emotions, whether it's in an interview or with her mother in the middle of the night, has been helpful.

Despite these tricky times, Zendaya remains open-minded about the future, having a positive outlook on changes to come.

"If there is anything positive that has come out of this time, it's that I feel a little bit of hope too. There are changes happening. I'm so inspired by my peers and their commitment," she says. "More than anything, I just want to tell people that your voice does matter. The little things do matter. And continue to use your emotions. They are sometimes considered a weakness, but in this time they are very powerful."

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Zendaya gets candid about activism, anxiety and acting