Zendaya has spent the last year rejecting screenplays with one-dimensional female characters whose main goal is to serve males. Early reviews suggest that the former Disney Channel star and current blockbuster powerhouse starring alongside John David Washington (Tenet, BlacKkKlansman) in the Netflix feature Malcolm & Marie, and that her performance could put her in contention for an Oscar. Euphoria inventor Sam Levinson wrote and directed the film, which was shot over a two-week period during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Malcolm & Marie is a black-and-white picture of a budding filmmaker and his long-term girlfriend who must face the demons of their relationship after Malcolm fails to thank Marie in his film debut. The entire film is set in a maze-like Los Angeles home, with the focus solely on the individuals and their complicated relationships. Marie appears to be an intriguing character based on the trailer alone, but she isn’t Zendaya’s first multi-faceted role. Rue, the recovering adolescent drug addict in Euphoria, and Michelle Jones in the Marvel Spider-Man flicks are two of the actress’s notable roles.

Unfortunately, not all scripts have compelling female roles, and Zendaya spent much of 2020 rejecting those that didn’t. According to GQ, Zendaya received a slew of job offers over the last year, but only a few of them piqued her interest. She claimed that the characters lacked their own personal arcs and instead centered around the male characters in the plot. Because the roles were so identical and repetitive, she didn’t think they would have stretched her as an actress.

“It’s not necessarily that any of [the scripts] were bad or something like that. I just felt like a lot of the roles that I was reading, specifically female roles, were just like, I could have played them all as the same person and it wouldn’t have mattered, if that makes sense. The best way to describe it is just like, they’d usually serve the purpose of helping the male character get to where they need to go, do what they need to do. They don’t really have an arc of their own. And they usually feel very one-dimensional in the sense that there are not a lot of layers to them, meaning they all seem very kind of like the same person over and over and over again. It would have been great and it would have been fine, but I wouldn’t have grown at all.”

She certainly has leeway to be picky, with an Emmy for Euphoria under her belt, a role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and a leading part in the next Dune. However, actresses shouldn’t have to be picky when it comes to finding worldly-wise roles, as complex, nuanced female characters should be the standard (and hopefully will be in the future). It’s commendable to see a young actress like Zendaya being as picky with her roles as Hollywood heavyweights like Reese Witherspoon and Jessica Chastain have been for years.

Euphoria, Malcolm & Marie, and Dune are simply the beginning of a long and prominent career for her commitment to portraying intriguing women on television.