At just 19, Zendaya Coleman has made an undeniably huge impact in not just entertainment but culture as a whole. (Remember the Guiliana Rancic incident?) The Disney child star was just unveiled as Complex magazine’s Woman of the year and the accompanying interview shows us just how much of an average teenager Zendaya is not. The level of deepness she portrays actually lends credence to her description of herself, 19 going on 80.
See excerpts from the interesting interview below!
You wore dreadlocks to the Oscars and Giuliana Rancic said that you looked like you smell like patchouli oil or weed. You responded on Instagram, writing that Rancic’s remarks were “ignorant slurs” and “outrageously offensive.” What’s the response been since you called her out?
Honestly, only positive. It was a learning experience for myself and for everyone who read it. A lot of people don’t realize that hair is a big thing for a lot of people, not just African-American women. It’s something to be aware of and to be cautious of. So it was something that I really felt like I should speak on. There were so many women, of all races, that came up to me and were like, “I really love what you said,” or “I had my daughter read that.”
All my brothers and my dad at one point had dreadlocks. My little nieces have curly hair. And if they were to have someone say something demeaning about what they have and what they hold dear to them, then I would want them to at least have the pride within themselves to come up with a response that made sense and that they were proud of. Honestly, I think about my little nieces and my little nephews first. Because one day they’re going to have Twitter and they’re going to have Instagram, and I’m going to be like, “This is how you handle it, kids.”
Do you actively think about being a role model?
Of course. I think it’s a responsibility, but like Tupac Shakur, I’m a real model. Which means: I’m not pretending to be something that I’m not, because like he said, people are going to be disappointed when they find out who you are, because it’s not going to be what you presented to the world. So just keep it real. I’m a good kid and that’s all.
On backing out from the Aaliyah biopic which she was supposed to star in:
I just didn’t like the way things were going down. There were a lot of things that came to my attention that I didn’t know about, about the family and production value. You just assume that things are taken care of when you step onto a project. But when you realize that things are just falling apart, you’re like, “This is not what I signed up for, this is not what I thought it was. This is not what I think is worthy of her movie.” It really ate me up inside. A lot of people thought that I knew that the family wasn’t involved, and I didn’t. I just auditioned like anyone else and got the job.
On her thoughts on fellow Disney graduates like Miley Cyrus:
I think again it’s that real model, role model thing. A lot of them were forced into being role models and they had to pretend to be something that they didn’t feel matched up with who they were. And that’s because they started really, really young. So you’ve got to realize when you’re really young you don’t know who you are yet. And as soon as you figure it out, you’ve already been forced to become something that you didn’t really know you signed up for. So it’s like, I get it. There’s a lot of pressure, so I completely understand. Everyone has their different ways of learning and growing and finding out who they are, and you can’t fault people for that. Again, I think with all the prior Disney stars, at least you can say they are themselves now.
On if she’ll ever have a Miley moment:
No. That’s why I said, in order to avoid those problems just be yourself from the beginning and be honest with the world, because that’s the only thing you can do. There will be no surprises.
On her shoe line:
I do. It’s called Daya, which is my nickname that really only my family calls me. It was a personal name and I wanted the shoes to be very personal. I didn’t want to make something that’s like, “OK, clearly she didn’t make these. She’s just putting them on her feet and calling them hers.” We’ve seen that happen before with like, “Girl, those look nothing like anything you would ever put on your feet and you know you hate them.” I want to make something that I love, that I’m going to wear out, that I’m going to work on the red carpet, that I’m going to be proud of, that I’m going to dedicate 120 percent into. I really wanted to wear the shoes and be like, “Yeah, they’re mine.”
Read the full interview here.
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