Ever since the first episode premiered back in June, Euphoria quickly became one of the top breakout hit shows of the year. And while that's definitely an admirable accomplishment, success also comes with a ton of stress and pressure attached to it. And it's a concept that the star of the series definitely felt throughout the creative process. In recent interview with ELLE, Zendaya revealed how Euphoria gave her anxiety on a weekly basis when it began to air on HBO, despite how excited she was for others to see her art come to life.
“Euphoria was eight months of my life, and now that it’s done I’m like, ‘F*ck,’” she told the outlet. “You put your shit out there, and it’s a really terrifying thing to do. It’s out for the world to see—it’s so f*cking weird.” And it was that type of vulnerability that led to her increased levels of stress. “Even though Euphoria coming out was amazing and exciting, it was also extremely stressful. It gave me a lot of anxiety every week,” Zendaya explained, adding, "That’s something I deal with; I have anxiety. I already know after this interview is over, I’m going to spiral about it for weeks.”
But in spite of all that, the 23-year-old actor wanted to explore the darker world of high school — full of sex and drugs and love and anxiety. And Zendaya's character, Rue, is at the heart of it all, attempting to cope with her own grief, depression, and addiction — all serious topics that ultimately proved to be very cathartic and healing for the singer. “Rue has such a darkness to her, but also an innocence. I have to be super vulnerable and sad in front of people," Zendaya stated. "It’s weird, but cathartic in a lot of ways.”
For as prominent as Zendaya's rising fame has become, acting wasn't something that came easily to Zendaya when she first started out, in part due to her anxious nature. “I wouldn’t try anything,” Zendaya confessed to ELLE. “I always had this fear of failing and not doing so well.”
This isn't the first time Zendaya has linked anxiety to her performances. Back in 2017, she wrote on her app about struggling with stage fright after a live performance of "Replay" on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2013 didn't go as expected. “It wasn’t my best performance and I’ve never let myself live that down. I had mad anxiety ever since that.” This prompted her to turn her attention to other projects outside of singing. Though, she admitted in the post that she had slowly built her confidence back up over time. “Sometimes you just have to take a step back so things stop stressin’ you," she added.
Zendaya has become more confident in herself since, as she told ELLE, and that's in no small part thanks to Euphoria. “I was looking for something to prove I can do it. Euphoria served as that, in the healthiest way," she told the magazine. But even now, with all the positive feedback the show has received, she still has a difficult time allowing herself to take the credit she deserves for all the hard work and creative effort she put into the series. “I should finally own that; it’s liberating," she said.
Perhaps Euphoria Season 2, which will reportedly begin production in the new year, will help hammer that message home.
If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.