By Ava Shaffer
Courtesy of Variety
Zendaya Coleman is many things. She is an actor, a singer, a dancer, a model, a clothing designer, an activist and most importantly – an inspiration to young girls.
According to Insider, at 14-years-old, Zendaya landed her first professional acting job at Disney Channel. She was one of the leads of Disney’s Shake It Up, a show that ran for about three years. During this time, Zendaya made a name for herself as a hardworking actress, singer and dancer. Not only did she star in one of Disney’s most popular shows of the time, she also appeared in countless commercials and ads on the network. She brought spunk and drive to her show, instantly marketing herself as a hardworking and energetic actor. Even after Shake It Up was canceled, Zendaya had bigger plans for the future.
A year after the show was canceled, Zendaya landed the lead in a new Disney Channel show, KC Undercover. This was where Zendaya started to bring voice into her work. The premise of KC Undercover is about a high school girl juggling being a spy and math genius at school. This show, and Zendaya’s leading acting in it, was one of the first strides Disney took towards promoting STEM in their younger female audience.
Within Disney’s older shows, such as Hannah Montana and Wizards Of Waverly Place, the main female lead was always depicted as being a fashionista who isn’t the best in school. There is nothing wrong with a girl being into fashion, but KC Undercover combined both a love for aesthetics with a love for academics.
After her time at Disney, Zendaya’s career skyrocketed into other acting opportunities, most notably the role of MJ in the newest Spiderman franchise. With her fame rising, and her fanbase growing, Zendaya started to speak out more about social justice issues.
In her next movie, Zendaya played Anne Wheeler in The Greatest Showman. Within this movie, important dialogue takes place about the role of African Americans in the mid-19th century New York City. Zendaya had increasingly become more outspoken to her 89.5 million follows on her social media about racial injustice in America. Her latest movie, Malcom & Marie, also has powerful conversations about race and how people of color are impacted in film.
Zendaya is growing out of her Disney star mold and acting in more mature films and tv shows. In 2019, HBO aired Euphoria, a psychedelic teenage drama about a highschool girl struggling with addiction.
When Euphoria aired, Zendaya urged her younger audience of Disney fans to exercise caution if they decide to watch this. As she wrote on her Instagram, “Euphoria is for mature audiences. It’s a raw and honest portrayal of addiction, anxiety, and the difficulties of navigating life today. Please only watch if you feel you can handle it. Do what’s best for you. I will still love you and feel your support.”
For those that grew up with Zendaya, they’ve watched her talent grow and her fame rise. Throughout every step of Zendaya’s career, she has inspired young girls to be their authentic selves and work hard. She has been a role model since her Disney days, and she will continue to be in the future.
Courtesy of Zendaya’s Instagram