Zendaya on the legendary Ronnie Spector: "You are a magical force of greatness"

The Euphoria star, who will play Spector in an upcoming biopic, posted a moving tribute to the singer.

Photo by James Kriegsmann/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Zendaya has become a cultural touchstone, and she recently honored yet another iconic figure, the late Ronnie Spector. Spector was the lead singer of American rock and roll outfit The Ronettes, a “girl band” that changed the way we look at “girl bands.” Spector passed away on January 12th at age 78. Zendaya has been set to play Spector in an A24 biopic since 2020. According to PopSugar, Spector chose Zendaya herself for the part — and Zendaya’s post in remembrance of her is evidence of their close bond.

Spector’s family released a statement on her passing reading, “Our beloved earth angel, Ronnie, peacefully left this world today after a brief battle with cancer. She was with family and in the arms of her husband, Jonathan. Ronnie lived her life with a twinkle in her eye, a spunky attitude, a wicked sense of humor and a smile on her face. She was filled with love and gratitude. Her joyful sound, playful nature and magical presence will live on in all who knew, heard or saw her. In lieu of flowers, Ronnie requested that donations be made to your local women’s shelter or to the American Indian College Fund. A celebration of Ronnie’s life and music will be announced in the future. The family respectfully asks for privacy at this time.”

Zendaya eulogized the late icon saying, “This news just breaks my heart. To speak about her as if she’s not with us feels strange as she is so incredibly full of life. There’s not a time I saw her without her iconic red lips and full teased hair, a true rockstar through and through. Ronnie, being able to know you has been one of the greatest honors of my life. Thank you for sharing your life with me, I could listen to your stories for hours and hours. Thank you for your unmeasured talent, your unwavering love for performing, your strength, resilience and your grace. There is absolutely nothing that could dim the light you cast. I admire you so much and am so grateful for the bond we share. You are a magical force of greatness and the world of music will never be the same. I wish everyone got to experience you the way I did. We celebrate your beautiful life and give you all the flowers you so rightfully deserve. Rest in great power Ronnie. I hope to make you proud.”

The Ronettes, with hits like “Be My Baby,” “Baby I Love You,” and “The Best Part of Breaking Up,” were an integral part of rock and roll history. They famously signed with Phil Spector’s record label, Philles Records, in 1963 after previously having gone by “The Darling Sisters” on Colpix Records. They only released one full studio album, Presenting The Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica, but they went on to release numerous singles and compilations, and their contribution to American music is undeniable. When they toured the UK in 1964, the Rolling Stones were their opening act, and they went on to open for the Beatles on their 1966 tour. Ronnie married Phil Spector in 1968 and the two separated in 1972. She was known as “the bad girl of rock and roll’ and released a memoir in 1990 titled, Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness, Or, My Life as a Fabulous Ronette. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

Spector’s passing is a massive loss to American music history, and many stars have taken to social media to mourn the legendary singer. Billy Joel wrote on Twitter, “The great Ronnie Spector has died. So many faces in and out of my life…. We mourn her passing.” Stevie Van Zandt wrote, “RIP Ronnie Spector. It was an honor to Produce her and encourage her to get back on stage where she remained for the next 45 years. Her record with the E Street Band helped sustain us at a very precarious time (thanks to Steve Popovich). Condolences to her husband and family.” With so much love for Spector’s spirit and place in American music history, there is sure to be no shortage of homages to her and celebrations of her life in the coming time. Zendaya, who has a similar “it factor” to Spector’s genre-bending, rule breaking, expectation defying allure, is sure to do her woman justice in the upcoming film.