From teen dream to badass activist, Zendaya is #killingit. We got the low-down on growing up in the public eye, her best dating advice and what she wants to do next...
Our cover star and girl crush
There are very few people in the world who are so famous they can be recognised by just their first name. Beyoncé, Adele, Oprah... you geddit. But our favourite It-girl is rising through the ranks so fast she’s about to eclipse all the other single-named stars on her climb to world domination. Yep, we’re talking about none other than the kween of cool, Zendaya (her last name’s Coleman btw – who knew!?).
After getting her start on Disney’s sitcom Shake It Up alongside Bella Thorne when she was just 14, Zendaya went on to star as K.C. Cooper in
K.C. Undercover. But far from being satisfied with becoming a fully fledged
Disney star, Z then released her own solo album and became a movie megastar. So far she’s graced our screens in SpiderMan: Homecoming and The
Greatest Showman – in which she sang, danced, swung from a trapeze AND got to pash
Zac Efron, but we’ll try not to be too jelly about that.
Oh, and did we mention she’s starred in music videos for Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars and Queen Bey? Is there anything this girl can’t do!?
But it’s not her insane talents on the big screen that make us love her so much. It’s the fact that in a world so full of fake, Zendaya is all about keeping it real.
In 2015, she called out
Modeliste magazine after they published digitally altered images of her that made her thighs and waist appear slimmer.
“These are the things that make women selfconscious, that create the unrealistic ideals of beauty that we have,” Zendaya said. “Anyone who knows who I am knows I stand for honest and pure self-love.” Preach!
Zendaya has also become a passionate activist, speaking out about social issues like race and gender equality. At the 2017 Teen Choice Awards, where she won the Choice Summer Movie Actress award, she used her speech to encourage other young people to stand up for what they believe in.
“You have a voice and it is OK to use it when you see something bad happening,” she said. “So make sure that you stay educated and that you do not let people tell you what you should feel.
Because you are the leaders, you’re the future leaders of the world, you’re the future presidents, the future senators, and you guys are the ones who are gonna make this world better.”
And Zendaya definitely practises what she preaches. When she’s not posting goofy photos with her family and her adorable dog, Noon, she’s speaking out – she even clapped back at comments US president Donald Trump made about police brutality.
And with 14 million followers on Twitter and 52 million Instagram followers (that’s more than Harry Styles and Camila Cabello combined!), the world is definitely listening to what she has to say. But our fave thing about her is that she’s just so damn likeable.
When she filmed her epic Lip Sync battle with BFF and Spider-Man co-star Tom Holland, host LL Cool J commented on how effortlessly awesome Zendaya was.
“She’s cool,” he said. “You can manufacture fame. You can manufacture publicity. You can manufacture songs. You can’t manufacture cool.”
And having celebrated her 22nd birthday this month, Zendaya shows no signs of slowing down.
She’s now lent her voice to animated movie Smallfoot, costarring Channing Tatum, which hits the screens in September, and she’s signed on to star in the thriller
A White Lie, which she’ll also coproduce with Reese Witherspoon.
We dare you to find someone more impressive than her. Go on, we’ll wait. So we were desperate to find out what
it’s really like being Z!
Q: Is there something you don’t do or can’t do since you became a celebrity?
I don’t think there’s anything I can’t do. I think I’m more aware of my surroundings. I’m more aware of what I do, but at the same time I’m pretty much a good kid. I’m pretty boring. In fact, a crazy night for me is staying up too late watching TV, eating too much ice-cream. That’s as wild as it gets.
Q: Is there anywhere you’d like to go without being recognised?
Oh! That, to me, doesn’t bother me that much. To me, I don’t get it crazy enough. I get it just enough. I think that’s because I don’t really walk in with sunglasses, a little dog in my purse, and four bodyguards. You know what I mean? It’s me and my friends. Usually, if they see me, they do, and if they don’t, they don’t. Even if they do, I think they realise that I’m normal and I’m a regular person.
Q: What about dating? Is dating harder, now that you’re famous?
I guess. It could be because you don’t know what people want from you.
You don’t know if they like Zendaya or Zendaya. That’s the only thing, but for me, thank goodness that I’m really, really busy. I don’t really have too much time anyway. I get to work all the time.
Q: What was your first date like?
I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 16 years old. My first date was probably super awkward. I don’t know if I even remember it. It was probably at the movies. With anyone it’s a little awkward, because you don’t really know how to have a conversation with them and you’re trying to be cute, so you’re still trying to be all girly [laughs]. My number one date advice is don’t try too hard. Don’t get too dressed-up – be chill. Wear something that’s no big deal. That makes you a little more interesting and then they want to get to know you more. If you come dressed up, it’s like, “Woah, calm down, it’s just a date.”
“I think they realise I’m normal and I’m a regular person.”
Q: You had your big break with Shake It Up on the Disney Channel back in 2010. Do you miss it?
I miss the people. After time goes on, you move on to do different things. I miss that.
Q: Do you stay in touch with the cast of Shake It Up?
Yes, of course! I stay in touch with everyone. The person I really miss is Davis, the little one. He’s growing up now and it’s really weird. He’s 16 or something, but in my brain he’s eight. So every time I see him, I talk to him like a baby. It’s probably super obnoxious to him, but he’s like my best friend.
Q: Being a former Disney star, did you get a chance to meet any other former Disney stars like Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato or Selena Gomez?
Yes, I have. I’ve met all of them and they’re all great young women. It’s cool to see people who have been young actors or actresses, who flourished and do their own thing. They’ve all been really nice and sweet to me, and reached out in some kind of way. I really appreciate that.
Q: Who were your Disney idols growing up?
Q: You didn’t get to experience high school like regular students. You spent your senior year on the set of K.C. Undercover. Do you ever feel like you missed out?
I don’t get to say I went to school every day, or that I went to prom, but I do get to say I went to a set and I know that amazing experience. I think I’m lucky to have the life I have, and I don’t think I’m missing out on anything.
Q: Would you go back in time and do anything differently?
No, because those movies, where if you go back in time and you mess one thing up, everything is all jacked-up. I would not want to do that. You don’t walk [down] the street one time and then meet someone who’s like your future husband. I don’t want to do that [laughs]. So I’d rather leave my life how it is and just keep on living.
Q: What was your first ever audition like?
I was 11 years old and it was awkward, because I was new and a lot of people
didn’t know me and the girls probably gave me the stink-eye. I’m doing my thing, in my own little bubble. It was awkward, but I think I definitely had a dream of what I wanted to do and I kept going, but it helps that I do what I want to do.
Q: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Five years from now I see myself, hopefully, continuing to work. There’s so much I have left to do and I’m just at the beginning. I have a lot of years ahead of me.
Q: What would you say to the future you?
I would tell the future me to keep going. You always have to give yourself props, and I would tell myself I’m proud of her. I think that you have to love yourself, and be proud of yourself and the things that you do.