It was bound to happen and honestly, it’s surprising that it took this long, but it looks like Zendaya may finally be entering her Academy Award era. After taking home an Emmy for her role in the first season of Euphoria, and all but cinching another nomination this year with that performance in last week’s episode, it seems like Zendaya is now setting her sites on the golden statue. And she’s being very strategic with her plan, partnering up with Oscar-nominated director, Call Me By Your Name’s Luca Guadagnino.
The Hollywood Reporter has revealed that Zendaya will be joining The Crown star Josh O’Connor, a fellow Emmy winner, and West Side Story newcomer Mike Faist in Challengers, a romantic tennis-themed drama from MGM. Guadagnino will direct, as well as produce alongside Spider-Man producer Amy Pascal and Zendaya herself. According to MGM, the movie centers around Tashi, “a tennis player turned coach, [who] has taken her husband, Art, and transformed him from a mediocre player into a world-famous grand slam champion.” Eventually, Tashi enters her husband in a “Challenger” event, a low level tournament on the pro tour. There, “he finds himself standing across the net from the once-promising, now burnt-out Patrick: his former best friend and Tashi’s former boyfriend.” Sounds like a story filled with transformation, love, friendship, and possibly betrayal, all perfect Academy fodder. Zendaya will take on the role of Tashi, while Faist will play her husband, with O’Connor will round out the cast as Patrick.
With three Marvel movies behind her, it makes sense for Zendaya to make the move into more prestige cinema. Not much came from Malcolm & Marie, and she was barely in Dune, so maybe this new film will be the one that takes her where she wants to go. Challengers will reportedly start shooting in the spring, which seems like the perfect timeline for an Oscar contender.