Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, Mindy Kaling, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson and others all flooded into one room last night for Elle’s Women in Hollywood event, an intimidatingly star-studded night with a genuinely heartwarming message throughout. During her speech, honoree Zendaya urged women in Hollywood to “knock down doors” and tell new stories. The 23-year-old’s moving message of empowerment is a reminder of the progress Hollywood has made in recent years — and of our need to stay committed to that progress.
Zendaya accepted her award from fellow Euphoria co-stars Hunter Schafer, Sydney Sweeney and Storm Reid, before enchanting the crowd of A-listers with her empowering words.
“Continue to be fearless with your art, continue to make space for each other, continue to motivate each other,” the actress said. “We have to continue to build together and work together to create the change and create the things and the narratives, and projects, and the stories, and tell the stories that need to be told, because often, they aren’t told, right? And so we might as well tell them our damn self.”
As much as Zendaya sounds like a fearless leader, she reminded the room that she’s new to this. “I’m 23. I’m still figuring it out,” she said. “You know, I don’t have all the answers or anything, but I can say I’m extremely inspired. Please continue to knock down doors, and please continue to jam them open and allow other people to come in and make room for each other because that’s the only way that shit will be done.”
Elle’s event inspired an atmosphere of collaboration and community among powerful women in Hollywood. For Zendaya, as much as she urges progress, her presence on that stage alone is evidence of a shift in the right direction: “Thank you so much for allowing me to be here,” she told the crowd. “To not just take up space, but to make space for people that look like me, women that look like me, women who don’t look like me, and I’m so incredibly grateful.” Bravo, Zendaya.