When it comes to diversity within the media we consume, one of the genres that has struggled to properly represent the world around us has easily been the comic book genre. Until recently, most films -- and television shows, for that matter -- were primarily saturated with white male heroes in the lead. Thankfully, though, some progress is finally beginning to be made and studios are beginning to realize not every character needs to physically match their comic book counterpart.
This is something actress Zendaya opened up about in a recent interview with Marie Claire. Following the news that Tom Holland had signed on to portray the web-slinger in the third attempt at a Spider-Man franchise, Zendaya's casting as the female lead made waves. At the time, it was thought she was playing none other than Mary Jane Watson in Spider-Man: Homecoming. However, as we've since come to learn, she was actually cast as a character named Michelle -- although, Michelle ironically shares a nickname with Mary Jane. According to the actress, though, when she went in for the role, she admits that it wasn't always written for an actress of color.
While discussing the type of roles she goes for, Zendaya explained to Marie Claire that she does go for most roles -- not necessarily ones specifically written for a black actress. This was the case with Spider-Man: Homecoming. According to Zendaya, when she initially auditioned for the role, she tried to present herself differently in hopes of securing the role, not realizing the studios -- Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures -- had already decided to go more diverse in their casting for the flick; it was something she wasn't used to, not having to fight for a role.
"At first I thought I would have to because you’re kind of used to the notion that, OK, even though the character is fictional and could be anybody, they probably are going to go with the standard of what they want and what they’ve always had," Zendaya said. "I definitely went into it like, 'Hopefully they’ll'—as they call it in the industry—'go ethnic.' I remember making the decision to straighten my hair. I didn’t know that they were going to be more diverse in their casting. I didn’t know that I was walking into a situation where they were already breaking the rules. You get so used to having to break the rules for people."
Although Zendaya's role was on the smaller end in the first film, she's confirmed to return along with the rest of the core cast for Spider-Man: Far From Home. Production on that film is currently underway in London.
Directed by Jon Watts, Spider-Man: Far From Home stars Tom Holland as Peter Parker, the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. It is scheduled to be released on July 5, 2019.