'TIME' Person of the Year honorees: Zendaya earns a spot on the prestigious list

'She's a cultural icon in the making,' filmmaker Denis Villeneuve tells TIME

zendaya at the oscars
(Image credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

She's at it again. 

The TIME Person of the Year List just dropped, and among 2022's 100 honorees is the inimitable Zendaya. 

Fans swoon over Zendaya's outfits time and time again, go gaga over Y2K Euphoria makeup looks and comb the actress' social feeds regularly for a glimpse inside her everyday. 

But more than another name in Hollywood, filmmaker Denis Villeneuve describes the star as a "cultural icon in the making," when speaking with TIME (opens in new tab).

He said, “[She's] a person driven by pure inspiration, empathy and respect for her craft, who uses authenticity as a new superpower. She seems fearless, her roots run deep, and I love that she still laughs like a kid. Zendaya is the future. And there is nothing more comforting to me."

'TIME' Person of the Year: Zendaya lands on the list

"A great honor. Thank you @TIME for this acknowledgment, and to Denis for his kind words. This means the world to me♥️ #TIME," the actress wrote on Instagram. Naturally, it garnered over five million likes.

Zendaya interview with 'TIME'

The Spider-Man and Dune star is like any other millennial: she whips out her phone to discuss memorable moments with loved ones throughout the year. However, her favorite moments are premieres and season finales! Have a look at her thoughts in the video below.

Arguably best known for her role as Rue Bennett in Euphoria, Zendaya is the star of the HBO Max teen drama that focuses on pretty heavy material, from substance abuse to assault. Despite difficult subject matter—Euphoria backlash from D.A.R.E. erupted during season 2—the 25-year-old hopes her vulnerable character can help people feel a little bit kinder.

"The most rewarding thing is when someone comes up to me and shares their story. whether it be personally or about a loved one and through her [Rue] they're able to either see themselves from a more empathetic way or see someone they love from a more empathetic way," Zendaya tells TIME

(We're adding that to the list of best celebrity quotes as we speak.) 

Above all, she wants people to connect with Rue and feel that light at the end of the tunnel.

"Leave the audience with a sense of hope because we all need it," she joked. 

Congrats Zendaya!

Danielle is a writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life, covering all-things news, lifestyle and entertainment. 


The heart of her time at Future has been devoted to My Imperfect Life, where she's been attuned to the cosmos and honed in on astrology coverage within the Life vertical. She's partial to writing pieces about the next big TV obsession—anyone else impatiently waiting for "Conversations with Friends"—and keeping you up to date on new trends like the latest must-have from Zara. 


Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids and a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, amNewYork and Newsday, among other outlets. 


When Danielle is not working, you can usually find her reading a new book, coffee at hand, or attempting a new recipe. (Recommendations always welcome!)