“I love what I do. I love what I do so much.”
That’s what Zendaya said as she accepted a Star of the Year Award Thursday night in Las Vegas at Caesars Palace, host of CinemaCon’s Big Screen Achievement Awards. The star-studded event concluded the four-day gathering organized by the National Association of Theater Owners, and she dedicated some of her remarks to them.
“I’m so thankful to all of you because without all of you what I do wouldn’t have a home or place to go,” said the 26-year-old star who will give audiences a place to go this year in The Epic Sequel by Denis Villeneuve Dune: part two and that of Luca Guadagnino The challengers. “I think my gift is telling stories. That’s what I love to do, and it means nothing if those stories don’t get to the people who need them.”
She then told her own story, recalling her very first date at the age of 15, to a movie that would soon take on a special meaning in her life.
“In a theater someone can feel seen. There, one can feel less alone. Then someone can escape. There someone can build a new dream. I have witnessed that and experienced it myself,” said the Emmy Award winner Euphoria star. “Literally, my first date was when I was 15 years old and it was to go and see Spider-Man in 3D.”
The actress would join the cast of the franchise years later, portraying MJ in episodes Spider-Man: Coming home, far from home And No way home. (It’s also worth noting that she has a longtime relationship with Spider-Man himself, Tom Holland.)
Zendaya received her trophy at the Coca-Cola-sponsored Big Screen Achievement Awards, which featured a program of fellow accolades including Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas, Melissa McCarthy, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts stars Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback, Illumination CEO Chris Meledandri, the cast of Lionsgate and Adele Lim’s Joy Ride as Comedy Ensemble of the Year and Rolando B. Rodriguez with the NATO Marquee Award.
Zendaya walked on stage after a tribute from host Kevin Frazier, who also introduced a sizzle reel showing her acting in Euphoriathe Spider-Man franchising, Malcolm & Marie, Dune (both parts) and the coming challengers, a screening that marked the first time footage from the film was shown that Guadagnino has described as a sexy tennis photo. The shorts feature the Louis Vuitton ambassador and fashion icon playing tennis and having intense conversations with her co-stars, played by Josh O’Connor and Mike Faist.
Concluding her talk, Zendaya returned to the power of the theatrical experience, something that has been a running theme this week. It was her second appearance on the Colosseum’s main stage after joining Villeneuve and co-star Timothée Chalamet for the very first look at their upcoming Warner Bros. blockbuster yesterday. and Legendary debuted.
“Now I consider myself an honor to be able to buy a ticket and sneak into the back of one of your theaters, which I’ve done so many times before, and see my own theaters,” she explained. “And it’s so special because I can see what the cinema experience does to people. It’s healing and magical and I’m so grateful to be a part of it. So thank you very much for this honor. Thanks for tonight. Thank you for all you do, and I hope to work with you for many, many years to come.”