Law Roach says Zendaya and Donyale Luna share ‘definite similarities.’ Can we get a biopic?

After recreating Donyale Luna’s iconic looks together in 2020, Law Roach says muse Zendaya shares some of the “same characteristics.”

Did Law Roach just forecast one of Zendaya’s future roles? Speaking with People magazine during the 2023 Daily Front Row Fashion Media Awards on Sept. 8, Zendaya’s longtime “image architect” drew comparisons between his favorite muse and another iconic Black beauty, Donyale Luna.

Zendaya, Donyale Luna, Law Roach, Donyale Luna documentary, Black models, Black supermodels, Fashion Week, Black in fashion, Law Roach and Zendaya, Zendaya Donyale Luna biopic,
(left to right) Zendaya attends the CinemaCon Big Screen Achievement Awards during CinemaCon on April 27, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images); American model and actress Donyale Luna (1945 – 1979), March 1966. (Photo by Roy Milligan/Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The first Black model to grace the covers of both Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar during the 1960s, Luna was a pioneering force in fashion and now widely regarded as the first Black supermodel. However, after her death at age 33, the model and actress’ legacy was largely forgotten until recent years. As reported by theGrio, this Fashion Week, Luna is once again part of the buzz in the fashion industry and beyond, as much of her life story and stratospheric career will be explored in the new HBO documentary “Donyale Luna: Supermodel,” premiering Sept. 13. 

Much of Luna’s self-invented persona made the Detroit native an enigma, even to close friends and associates. However, Roach, fascinated by the fashion icon for years, sees some “definite similarities” with Zendaya.

“I think the ancestors are always with us, so yeah, just the beauty and the calmness — I think that’s what they really have in common,” Roach told People. “Zendaya is always very serene and mellow, and I think Donyale [pronounced “Don-yell”] embodied the same characteristics.”

It’s a commonality Roach and Zendaya explored in 2020 as they recreated several of Luna’s paradigm-shifting looks for the 50th-anniversary issue of Essence magazine. While mainstream publications often portrayed Luna as racially ambiguous during her career, in bringing her archetypal beauty back to life for a legacy Black magazine, Zendaya proved the perfect interpreter.

Zendaya, channeling Donyale Luna for Essence’s 50th anniversary issue, styled by Law Roach. (Cover images: Essence)

“A lot of what I do, specifically within fashion, is a tribute to fashion icons who came before me —many of whom are Black women,” said Zendaya in the cover story. “I love the way it turned out. I’m very proud of it. It’s one of my favorite cover shoots I’ve ever done.”

For Roach, Luna’s mystique made her the perfect muse.

“I was just kind of entranced by who she was and that no one knew her story, so I dug a little deeper,” he told People. “One thing about my work as a stylist [is] that I consider myself to be a storyteller, and Zendaya has always been my partner in storytelling. And then we decided that we were going to honor [Luna] through recreating some of the photos.”

Naturally, the shoot caused some to wonder if Zendaya might take the inspiration beyond the page to embody Luna onscreen. While the actress-producer hasn’t indicated such plans, the new documentary and Roach’s comments may spark renewed interest in seeing a biopic of Luna’s brief but fantastical life. If so, what better leading lady — or producer, director, cinematographer, or all of the above — than Zendaya? (We can dream, can’t we?)

“[W]ithout the incredible, iconic people who have graced the cover before me, I wouldn’t be here, standing on the shoulders of giants,” she told Essence, later adding: “I love being able to create what I want to see made. I’m also really interested in cinematography. Maybe I’ll become a director, or a director of photography. I am just really taking in all that knowledge and learning as much as I can. I really love the art of actually making film.”

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