During the 2nd annual AT&T Dream in Black invite-only brunch at this year’s Essence Festival, Zendaya pronounced her commitment to telling diverse stories as a Black actress, saying that dreaming big is one step towards getting there.
The Dream in Black event is a gathering aimed at encouraging people to boldly follow their passion and share it with the world, something that the Euphoria star embodies.
“ …As an actress I have to do my part to tell different stories especially from my viewpoint as a Black woman and I think that’s so special and this is what each of us has the power to do in our creative field,” Zendaya said when expressing what the Dream in Black concept means to her.
“It can’t always be a dream, it has to be a reality and sometimes it has to start that way, but being here amongst people who are making literal dreams a reality and people I look up to and people I can watch every single day turn what we see in our heads to real things is incredible and a little bit of a dream.”
One of the people Zendaya looks up to was another speaker at the Dream in Black brunch, director Ava Duvernay, who received a standing ovation for her work on Netflix’s acclaimed When They See Us, the film which tells the story of the “Exonerated Five” (formerly known as the Central Park Five).
Others in attendance included Entertainment Tonight correspondent Nischelle Turner; Married to Medicine’s Quad Webb; and Monique Rodriguez, CEO of Mielle Organics.
AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan was also present and shared why it was important for his company to be present and host the brunch during the Essence Festival.
“There’s an expectation from employees and customers that you speak out on what your values are about as a company,” Donovan said. “People want to see themselves in that company or brand. I think that ensures that you’ll be successful in doing the right thing. You can’t be false; you have to be genuine. There’s nothing like being at Essence Festival. There aren’t a lot of places where you can have this type of learning experience and human experience.”
For Zendaya, this was not just her first time at the Dream in Black brunch, but her first time at the Essence Festival. She was able to take the opportunity to meet with ESSENCE Girls United, an ESSENCE initiative that provides young African American girls with the opportunity to succeed in lifestyle, career, education, and community.
“When you live in this world of being able to be surrounded by people with visions and ideas and also that want to support you and help you, I think it’s incredible and will only allow us to continue to do beautiful things,” Zendaya said.