The accomplishment was a first, breaking the television award show’s previous record high of six Black winners, but amid the celebration, a story from the New York Post tried to rain on the parade.
During Sunday’s ceremony, Zendaya snagged the trophy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her acting in “Euphoria,” becoming not only the youngest to win the award, but the second Black actress to win since Viola Davis took home the award in 2015.
Shortly after, the Post published an article referring to her win as the “biggest upset” of the night.
“She’s the youngest and least experienced nominee in this year’s competitive category of industry heavy hitters, each of whom was more expected,” the story said of Zendaya, who was nominated alongside Jennifer Aniston, Olivia Coleman, Laura Linney, Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer.
Social media users responded to the story, starting an online debate about the meaning of the word “upset” in the article’s context.
“Upset? This woman was incredible in ‘Euphoria’ no one is surprised,” reporter Mandy Velez tweeted.
“Here we go with the overt gatekeeping. Both Jennifer and Laura have emmys, let Zendaya have her moment,” another Twitter user wrote. “SHE DESERVES IT.”
Others jumped in to explain the meaning of the word “upset” in the used context.
“To everyone in the replies: “1. “Biggest Upset” means unexpected victory, essentially the underdog won,” a tweet read. “2. People didn’t expect Zendaya to win because of race. Calm down. People didn’t expect her to win because Jennifer Aniston is an industry giant, which usually win.”
“I know what this means and still, it was in poor taste,” another tweet read.
The Post later published a story, referring to the confusion and ensuing debate as a “teachable moment” for Zendaya fans.
Other Black winners of the Emmy Awards last night included Regina King and Yahya Abdul Mateen II who took home awards for their work in HBO’s “Watchmen.” Uzo Adoba of“Mrs. America” won the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series/Movie, and Eddie Murphy, Maya Rudolph and Ron Cephas Jones won guest acting Emmy’s on Saturday night (Sept 19).
Look below for some of the reactions to the NY Post story about Zendaya.
Upset? This woman was incredible in Euphoria no one is surprised https://t.co/64rPt53Flk— Mandy Velez (@mandy_velez) September 21, 2020
Here we go with the overt gatekeeping. Both Jennifer and Laura have emmys, let Zendaya have her moment.— ISAIAH (@theisaiahjosiah) September 21, 2020
SHE DESERVES IT. https://t.co/GUaOzHRqf9
To everyone in the replies:— RogueKriger (@Roguekriger) September 21, 2020
1. "Biggest Upset" means unexpected victory, essentially the underdog won
2. People didn't expect Zendaya to win because of race. Calm down. People didn't expect her to win because Jennifer Aniston is an industry giant, which usually win.