05 Oct YARA SHAHIDI Interviews ZENDAYA For Glamour Magazine.
Zendaya discusses Blackness, Beyoncé, and Telling Disney ‘No’ with Yara Shahidi for the latest issue of Glamour magazine. See awesome editorial captured by Emma Summerton and styled by
Jillian Davison. Read excerpts from the feature below and also follow link to finish story.
As written by Yara:
One of the first times I met Zendaya was at the 2015 Radio Disney Music Awards, which she was hosting. Though my show Black-ish had only aired for one season—we didn’t even know if we’d be renewed—I will never forget when she bounded up to me and said, excitedly, “Man, I really appreciate the work that you’re doing.”
Zendaya was just 18 at the time, the same age I will turn in a few months. And she was already a bona fide superstar, having appeared in nearly a dozen films and shorts, released an album of hits, and ridden the success of the Disney Channel sitcom Shake It Up into producing and starring in K.C. Undercover, about a black family of spies. Zendaya has always been clear about the importance of speaking one’s mind. When executives originally suggested the show be called Super Awesome Katy, she told them the title was “wack.” She asked, “Do I look like a Katy to you?” (They made her character’s name K.C. instead.) And she knows her value. Zendaya is one of the youngest Disney Channel producers ever. She is a young woman on a mission!
Zendaya is like a big sister to me. And we have a lot in common. On season two of Black-ish, she guest starred as Resheida, the poster girl for a made-up holiday. Being thought of as a poster girl, in any situation, is a double-edged sword. Personally, as a young black actress, I’m happy when people see themselves reflected in my professional work, and that I’m able to tell those narratives. But it has never been—and will never be—my or Zendaya’s intention to be the only versions of “blackness” in the world of entertainment.
There’s a misconception in this industry that everybody who looks like you, or may, at first, seem like you, must be your competition. What I so deeply respect about Zendaya is that she’s actively helping to dismantle that myth. She is showing young women how to speak our minds, stand up for our peers, and give love to the global community of women. Because, at the most basic level, we need to see a variety of characters whose likenesses reflect the society we live in. But we also need diversity in representation, roles that show the true range of our experiences as women. Zendaya is doing that. She makes it known that she is dedicated to showing young people that they are meant to be seen and counted. And that they are never, ever just one thing. That’s no small feat. I’m honoured to know her, and excited for you all to get to know her better.
YARA SHAHIDI: Let’s take it all the way back. How did you end up moving to Los Angeles from Oakland as a middle-schooler to act?
ZENDAYA: I was basically like, “I want to do this,” and my dad quit his job as a teacher to make it happen. My mom stayed in Oakland because she had two jobs: teaching, and working at the California Shakespeare Theatre at night. Those two jobs paid for all of our car trips back and forth for the year I was auditioning. Luckily I had parents who were like, “You know what? We believe in you.” I got my first job on the Disney Channel when I was 13, and it was just me and my dad in an apartment in downtown L.A. It was very difficult because I was dealing with all the pivotal girl moments. I remember getting my period and him not knowing what to do. It was a weird transitional phase.
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