At 24-years-old, Zendaya winning best lead actress in a drama makes her the youngest in Emmys history to win the award

This year actors and actresses alike swapped their limos and red carpets for backyards and couches, as they celebrated the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards. The juxtaposition of the glamour of the gowns and suits with the living room coffee table acceptance speeches made for an unforgettable Emmys, in more ways than one. 

The 2020 Emmys saw some surprising winners; with category sweeps to record-breaking wins. “Schitt’s Creek” took home every award in its respective comedy category, and Zendaya broke the record for becoming the youngest woman to win for lead actress for her role as Rue in “Euphoria.” Her competition was tough as she beat out seasoned actresses like Oscar winner Olivia Colman and Golden Globe winner Sandra Oh. 

In the drama category “Succession” and “Watchmen” were big winners. “Succession” won for best drama series and best directing, and lead actor Jeremy Strong took home the award for lead actor in a drama. “Watchmen” star Regina King’s win for lead actress in a limited series tied her with Bill Cosby and Chris Rock for the title of most acting Emmys won by a Black actor. 

Zendaya’s historic win was well deserved and just her nomination for that category alone is a mighty feat. At just 24 years old she was able to achieve such an astounding level of emotional maturity and vulnerability, at a level that we don’t often see in many actors. To place such a heavy and profound show on the shoulders of a woman barely into her 20s, and to see her rise to the occasion time and time again, is proof of her talents and the breadth of her acting abilities. 

Opposite her in the category of lead actor in a dramatic role we have Mark Ruffalo for his role on “I Know This Much is True,” where he plays twins whose lives take unfortunate twists and turns. While I haven’t seen the show, I think I can speak for many of us when I say it is well known how talented of an actor Ruffalo is. It was certainly no surprise he won in this category, but I personally had my eye on someone else who I believe to be more deserving. 

Paul Mescal is a 24 year old actor out of Ireland who shot to fame for his portrayal of Connell in the critically acclaimed mini series “Normal People.” While Mescal doesn’t have Ruffalo’s experience, I believe his talent as an actor to be on par with Ruffalo. Mescal’s portrayal of Connell was such an open and raw look into how awkward and heartbreaking love is as a young adult. 

I would compare his vulnerability as an actor in “Normal People” to Zendaya’s in “Euphoria.” They both showcased such maturity in their approach to the character and their respective stories, something so rare in such young actors. While I am in no way disputing Ruffalo’s talents as an actor, I think the caliber of acting Mescal brought to the table in his first leading role is worthy of the title of best lead actor in a drama. 

Julia Garner took home the award for best supporting actress in a drama for her work in “Ozark,” a show about a financial planner who has to uproot his family and move to the Ozarks after a money laundering scheme goes sideways. Her role on the show puts her acting talents front and center, but when compared to Helena Bonham Carter from “The Crown” there is no question in my mind as to who should have won. 

Bonham Carter played the late Princess Margaret opposite Olivia Colman’s portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II. Her flawless portrayal of the late princess, right down to tediously learning and mirroring personal mannerisms, makes for one of the most astounding performances of this year. The fervor with which she approached this character, made more challenging based on the fact that she is portraying a real woman, not a fictional character, left me in awe of her abilities as she seamlessly melded into Princess Margaret with each passing minute. 

There is no denying that every individual who was nominated this year, from actors and actresses, to screenwriters and directors, are all incredibly talented, hardworking and accomplished in their respective fields. The inventiveness in that one room (theoretical room this year) is so vast it is incomprehensible. 

To be simply nominated for an Emmy is a testament to your achievements and your artistic potential. Regardless of who I personally thought should or should not have won, at the end of the day I’m grateful now more than ever for this art form. In a time such as this one, where our stress levels are at an all-time high and tomorrow has never been more uncertain, to be able to escape our mundane existence even if for just a little while is always a winner in my book.

Audrey Measer is the opinion editor. Follow her on Twitter: @audrey_measer.

Opinion Editor

Major: Public Relations I love working alongside such a supportive and talented group of people, and creating a fun little community within the larger GU community. It’s a fun place to grow as a writer and as a person and get out of your comfort zone!

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