Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: . Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Lexi Schwartz
The Greatest Showman, Shake It Up
Currently Known For:
Spider-Man: Far From Home
2010 - Present
September 1, 1996
The Greatest Showman, Shake It Up
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Every generation brings with it a new wave of stars that make their presence felt. In recent years, one of those young celebrities that’s burst onto the scene is Zendaya, who like many in her age group, made her way through the Disney Channel to find mainstream fame on the big screen. Still only in her early 20s, Zendaya has starred in many blockbuster films and figures to be a big player in Hollywood for a long time.
Though she goes simply by Zendaya these days, she was born with the last name Coleman in Oakland, California on September 1, 1996. She’s the youngest of six children in her family, and her mother had experience in acting herself. Though Zendaya’s mom wasn’t featured in films, she still helped Zendaya grow up in theater and study some of the classic works.
Zendaya was among the tallest girls in her class, and now stands at 5’10”. “I was actually supposed to be a basketball player, not an actress,” she said. “My parents had me playing basketball on competitive teams when I was in kindergarten. Even though my heart belongs to the arts, I’m a tomboy at heart, too.” Acting was what Zendaya always wanted to do, though. “I was that weird eight year old who was really interested in Shakespeare and understood it and appreciated the language, she said.”
In the late 2000s, Zendaya’s career started when she was a child model, and was featured in multiple print and television advertisements. This got her foot in the door, and soon the acting roles were coming. “When I first started out in the industry, I was 12 or whatever, and I wanted to be on something so bad,” Zendaya said. “And I didn’t know what I was going to be on. At the time, I was in school, and I was working on drama and theatrical stuff, so I never thought that I’d end up going to comedy.”
The first acting role for Zendaya came in 2010 when she was cast alongside Bella Thorne in the Disney Channel series “Shake It Up”. The series ran for three seasons through 2013 and a total of 75 episodes, making it one of the more popular series of the decade on the network. “I would say that ‘Shake It Up’ was a chance for me to do two things I really love: acting and dancing,” Zendaya said.
During her run on “Shake It Up”, Zendaya had guest spots on multiple other television series. Then, when the show wrapped in 2013, Zendaya appeared as a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars”, making it all the way to the finals before being declared the runner-up. In that same year, Zendaya released a self-titled album with her biggest hit being “Replay” that reached the top 40 of the charts. Afterward, Zendaya returned to the Disney Channel for a TV movie, and then landed another series with “K.C. Undercover” in which she played the title character.
Just like her previous Disney series, “K.C. Undercover” aired for 75 episodes over three seasons, which is pretty standard for the network. Zendaya made her feature film debut during this time, starring as MJ in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with “Spider-Man: Homecoming”. It was a role that she reprised in 2019 for the film “Far From Home”, though Spider-Man’s future with Marvel is up in the air after Disney and Sony butted heads on the rights to the characters, including Zendaya’s.
In between, Zendaya had a role in “The Greatest Showman” as Anne Wheeler, and was part of the film’s soundtrack that reached the top spot on the charts. She also lent her voice to the movies “Duck Duck goose” and “Smallfoot”. Coming up, Zendaya will star in the Denis Villeneuve remake of “Dune”, playing the role of Chani.
As for her television career, Zendaya hasn’t completely avoided the small screen despite her film success. She’s made a few guest appearances on shows such as “Black-ish” and the Netflix series “The OA”. In 2019, Zendaya played the lead role of Rue Bennett on the HBO series “Euphoria” that was renewed for a second season, keeping Zendaya very busy. It’s a much different role than people had been used to for Zendaya. “Having a Disney past sometimes makes it difficult for people to take you seriously,” she said. “I’m in the phase of learning and watching and trying to absorb as much as I can.”
She also notes that there likely won’t be a return to music, as she sticks to acting more than five years after her lone album. “I think the (music) industry takes a little bit of passion away from you. It sucks you dry a little bit,” she said. “What I thought I wanted, it’s not what I want anymore, (especially) when I think about what I had to deal with in the music industry.”
When it comes to career advice that Zendaya has, she says to “Find something that makes you happy and go for it...Sticking with your vision and what you believe in is so, so important,” adding “Why limit yourself? I feel like I can do anything.”
There are certainly plenty of roles in Zendaya’s future as she figures to be a staple of entertainment for years to come. “I’ve had a lot of voices tell me what I should be making,” she said. “Personally, I would much rather live and die by my own hand. If my stuff sucks, then at least I made it suck. I didn’t allow some person, some old dude in a suit, to make it suck for me.”