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How Zendaya Played The System To Get "Malcolm & Marie" Crew Bonus Pay

If one point equaled one percent of the film’s reported sale price, a crew member could bank $300,000.

Zendaya attends the Bvlgari B.zero1 Rock collection event at Duggal Greenhouse on February 06, 2020 in Brooklyn, New York. | Getty Images
Zendaya attends the Bvlgari B.zero1 Rock collection event at Duggal Greenhouse on February 06, 2020 in Brooklyn, New York. | Getty Images

Zendaya’s latest film project “Malcolm & Marie” — shot in black-and-white during a once-in-a-century pandemic — is non-traditional on its own. But the actor, who also produced the film, made another unconventional choice, this one financial: setting up a system for the film’s crew to get points, or basically financial shares, of the project’s future returns.

The 24-year-old actor made that choice in one of her first major roles portraying an adult — as production on HBO’s teen-focused drama “Euphoria,” which she stars in, was forced to shut down because of COVID-19. 

And given the film project, co-starring John David Washington and directed by “Euphoria” creator Sam Levinson, reportedly sold to Netflix for $30 million — that bet paid off. If one point equaled one percent of that sale price, for example, a crew member could bank $300,000. 

Zendaya, a Golden Globe Best Actress nominee for her role in as Marie, has acknowledged the pay structure in interviews, and during a recent Zoom panel with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

"We got to create this financial structure where all of our crew members also got points on it, so when it sold, they made money as well,” she said. “So hopefully that will be a system that can continue. I think it's important that we take care of our people."

Also on the Zoom were Halle Berry, Sia, Robin Wright, and Andra Day. When moderator Elisabeth Sereda asked if Zendaya’s early success signaled that young people of color could have an easier time than their predecessors making movies, Berry answered emphatically.

"At 24 that she can have an idea and go get it done and get enough support behind her to get that done and to give her the power and to keep the creativity, I think that says so much for where we have gotten and that is what makes me want to keep fighting, because of Zendaya, at 24, a Black woman can do that," Berry said. "She is proof-positive that things are changing and I couldn't be prouder and I know you probably can't be prouder of yourself, which is most important."

“Malcolm and Marie” premiered on Netflix on February 5. It focuses on the relationship between the two leads, including a fight that ensues after Malcolm, a director, fails to appreciate Marie during a speech at a film premiere. The San Francisco Chronicle compared the pay structure of the film to the egalitarianism sought by Zendaya’s character Marie.  

“She just wants to be acknowledged,” Zendaya said during an interview. “Respected."

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