The 2021 Oscars were always going to be a surreal experience, but none so much as the choice to make mask-wearing non-mandatory. The Oscar set was designated a film set in order to pull off this feat. Regina King reminded attendees that meant when the cameras go off, the masks go on. But it seemed not everyone felt like it was a good idea to be unmasked. These tweets about Zendaya keeping her mask on at the 2021 Oscars stan a safety queen.
Whether or not to show celebrities gathered together at awards shows has been an ongoing discussion this year. The September Emmys were completely virtual; the Golden Globes brought in vaccinated workers to be an audience for the 2021 ceremony, where celebrities presented live. But the Oscars were determined to aim for some semblance of pre-pandemic times, including holding a red carpet.
All of the actors took advantage of the opportunity to show off their fashion chops, including Zendaya. Known for her fashion acumen, the actor wore a yellow custom Valentino cutout dress accessorized with Bulgari diamonds — and a matching mask. Though her red carpet photos showed her without the latter, she was masked up when she first arrived.
More importantly, despite the freedom to take it off, Zendaya stayed that way once she sat down in the venue.
Zendaya's fans were loving it. After so much controversy over this small act, seeing a celebrity, especially a young woman of color, quietly wearing a mask, felt very validating, like it was no big deal.
Fans might also note in this pullback shot that Zendaya was not the only one wearing a mask. Her date, sitting to her left, was also wearing one with her.
And later, when Chloe Zhao won the directing award for Nomadland, the cameras cut to Frances McDormand, who was also masked up.
McDormand was nominated for Best Actress at this year's Oscars, so Zendaya's in good company. Hopefully, in a year or two, they'll also both have Best Actress trophies as well as Best Masked Actors of the Oscars 2021.