Zendaya Discusses The Mental Health Toll Of 'Euphoria'

Zendaya at an awards show. She is wearing a white cropped top and a silver maxi skirt.
Getty | David Livingston

Health & Lifestyle
Tiara Winter-Schorr

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard of Zendaya and her brilliant work on Euphoria. This Emmy winner launched her career in childhood as a cast member of Shake It Up, a Disney channel show. Ever since, she has been dancing and acting her way to the top. But fame comes with a price, which she learned as her career blossomed. Scroll down to learn more about her mental health battle and how she copes.

Living With Anxiety

Zendaya stands in front of a Vanity Fair sign at a party. She is wearing a black tailored pantsuit with a black tie and a mauve shirt. She is wearing a diamond brooch.
Getty | Doug Peters - PA Images

Zendaya lives with anxiety, a disorder that affects 19% of American adults and 7% of American children. It began in 2013 during a live performance on The Ellen Show. Her mic failed and she was unable to hear, and she felt her singing wasn't as good as it could've been. For her, it was a devastating and embarrassing moment that had lasting effects. She finally opened up about this experience in 2017, during a podcast interview. Her anxiety about live singing plagued her until she sought help for it. Scroll down to find out what works for her.

Her Approach To Mental Health

Zendaya attends an event in a sleeveless hot pink dress. Her hair is styled in box braids.
Shutterstock | 673594

For Zendaya, therapy has been the foundation of her mental health treatment. She openly discussed the benefits, and how it has helped her overcome her stage fright. She also recommends it for everyone, regardless of their mental health status. The value of communicating with a trained and objective party, as opposed to talking to a parent, spouse, or friend, is something she emphasizes in interviews. The National Alliance on Mental Health agrees with her - therapy is listed first in treatment for anxiety disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and exposure therapy are often very helpful, in addition, to talk therapy. Zendaya also mentioned how important therapy was to her during the Covid-19 pandemic set in, which left her feeling depressed and "bad".

If you are in need of therapy but don't have access to it, here are 7 ways to deal with life. Scroll down to learn how playing Rue affected Zendaya and what's next for her.

Euphoria And The Rue Effect

Zendaya stands in front of a Euphoria background. She is wearing a strapless black and white vertical stripe dress
Getty | Jeff Kravitz

In an interview with Elle Australia, Zendaya spoke about the emotional and mental toll of playing Rue on Euphoria. Her heart, she said, didn't know that she was acting - meaning that she experienced all of Rue's emotions, which in turn had the expected effect on her mental health. The taxing role and the effort she put into it made her the youngest Emmy award winner ever. But it came with a cost, and the darkness of the show increased Zendaya's anxiety and fatigue. Even so, she feels that Rue and the show still offer "hope, empathy, and redemption".

"Your body is a person, it doesn't know that what you're doing is not real. My brain can say 'ok I'm pretending' but when I'm doing it, my body and my heart don't know that it's not real. It can be exhausting in that way and it can make you feel bad because she says and does things that I don't want her to do and say, but here I am."

Scroll to the last section to see what's next for Zendaya.

Moving On

Zendaya stands with Tom Holland at the premier of Spiderman
Shutterstock | 673594

While Zendaya has successfully battled her anxiety, she has also stayed passionately devoted to acting. She can be seen in Challengers, an upcoming film by Luca Guadagnino. She will also be working with Francis Ford Coppola and costarring with Jake Gyllenhaal. One thing is for certain - Zendaya's star will only shine brighter and brighter each year.

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