Euphoria has been shocking and sucking fans in since its premiere. The show is edgy in a way that teen dramas haven’t been for quite some time. It pushes boundaries and isn’t afraid to make people uncomfortable.
The show follows 17-year-old Rue, played by Zendaya, as she comes back from rehab after a drug overdose.
According to Rue, she hasn’t been happy since she was born.
“I was once happy, content,” she said in the opening moments of the show.”Then one day, for reasons beyond my control, I was repeatedly crushed over and over by the cruel cervix of my mother Leslie. I put up a good fight, but I lost. For the first time, but not the last.”
So, she uses drugs and other unhealthy coping mechanisms to get through life.
For viewers who have watched Zendaya throughout her career, the role of Rue might seem like an extreme detour from her normal material. But the actress and her character might not be as different as you think.
Zendaya’s previous roles
For the majority of her career, Zendaya has been the typical Disney kid. She started out as a model and backup dancer before landing the role of Rocky Blue in the Disney Channel show, Shake it Up. Then, she moved on from that show to another squeaky clean Disney production, K.C. Undercover.
Even her film career has been relatively innocent. Most recently she has been in The Greatest Showman, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Spider-Man: Far from Home.
So, when Zendaya took on the role of a depressed, drug addict, fans were notably confused.
Before the show premiered, the actress made sure to tell her fans that Euphoria wasn’t like the typical things that she did and warned them of its intense nature.
“Just a reminder before tonight’s premiere, that Euphoria is for mature audiences,” she wrote on Instagram. “It’s a raw and honest portrayal of addiction, anxiety and the difficulties of navigating life today. There are scenes that are graphic, hard to watch and can be triggering. Please only watch if you feel you can handle it. Do what’s best for you. I will still love you and feel your support.”
Can Zendaya relate to Rue?
On the show, Rue struggles with anxiety, depression, and drug abuse. But is it possible that Zendaya is able to capture all of that emotion so well because she also had some similar struggles?
“I used to struggle with anxiety pretty bad,” Zendaya once wrote in a post on her app. “It only happened when I sang live, not when I danced or did any other live performances, and it stemmed from a bad experience I had while singing on ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ in 2013. It wasn’t my best performance and I’ve never let myself live that down. I had mad anxiety ever since that.”
But unlike Rue, the actress found more natural ways to deal with her issues.
“I DID figure out how to bury my anxiety, though,” she continued. “I’ve tried focusing my energy on other things, like making movies. And I took my time and slowly built my confidence back up before I went back out on stage to sing live. Luckily, when I performed ‘Let Me Love You’ with Mario on the show Greatest Hits last year, it went really well. It was still a little nerve-wracking, but it was cool. Sometimes you just have to take a step back so things stop stressin’ you.”