Zendaya Is Much Happier With The Oscar Noms This Year

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Last year, Zendaya Cole was a proud member of the large group of celebrities who criticized the utter lack of diversity of the Oscar nominees — for the second year in a row. (Black actors were completely shut out in both 2015 and 2016.) She joined everyone from Reese Witherspoon and Luptia Nyong'o to Viola Davis and Daniel Radcliffe. But this year, Zendaya is feeling much better about the pool of nominees.

“It’s really cool this year,” the 20-year-old told People this week.“It’s nice to see people being recognized for their work.” Zendaya continued, applaud the diversity in the field this year. “I think that is so important — and it’s beautiful to see," she said, adding, “There are so many young people that are watching, and it’s important to reflect them and represent them.” She had praise for Best Picture nom Hidden Figures in particular. “There have been so many really important (movies), for example, Hidden Figures — that is a story that needed to be told.”

Zendaya has reason to celebrate. Black actors and filmmakers made history this year, nabbing nods across all the major categories. Fences star Viola Davis became the first Black actress to be nominated for an Oscar three times (She also received nods for Doubt in 2009 and The Help in 2012). Moonlight director Barry Jenkins is the first African-American filmmaker to be nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

And, a Black actor is nominated in all four acting categories for the first time in history: Denzel Washington, Best Actor, Fences; Ruth Negga, Best Actress, Loving; Mahershala Ali, Best Supporting Actor, Moonlight; Octavia Spencer, Best Supporting Actress, Hidden Figures; Viola Davis, Best Supporting Actress, Fences; and Naomie Harris, Best Supporting Actress, Moonlight. Like Zendaya said, that kind of diverse representation is both important and beautiful.