At just 20 years old, Zendaya Coleman, known by most simply as Zendaya – has already established an amazingly diverse and successful career. Actress, singer, model – those are just a few of the most well-known jobs she has had so far. Verge takes a look at the course of her remarkable career so far, including her major achievements and a few of her current and upcoming projects.
Zendaya grew up in California, where she was a student at the Oakland School for the Arts and had a number of roles in local theatrical productions. She was also involved in hip hop dancing and modeling as a kid, and she modeled for major U.S. retailers such as Macy’s and Old Navy. From there, she went on to become an actress for Disney Channel at age 14, rising to fame through her role as Rocky Blue on the show Shake It Up. She and co-star Bella Thorne played a pair of best friends who are following their dream of becoming professional dancers. After the success of the show, Zendaya had roles in two Disney television films, Frenemies (2012) and Zapped (2014), as well as guest roles in shows including Good Luck Charlie and A.N.T. Farm.
Shortly after the start of her acting career, she also began a singing career, releasing her first single “Swag It Out” in 2011. Several more singles followed over the next two years, including the song “Watch Me” with Bella Thorne, which made it to number 89 on the Billboard Hot 100. Her first full-length album, Zendaya, was released on Hollywood Records in 2013. That same year, she was a contestant on Dancing With the Stars. At just 16 years old, she was the youngest celebrity to appear on the show at that time.
Now 20 years old, she has several major projects coming up in the near future. Her first major studio film, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, is set to be released this summer. When her involvement in the film was first announced, it inspired widespread speculation over the possibility that she would be playing Mary Jane Watson, Spiderman’s main romantic interest. This, in turn, inspired controversy from some Spiderman fans who rejected the idea of Mary Jane being played by a black woman. However, Marvel later announced that she would not be playing Mary Jane, but a character named Michelle, who is a classmate of Peter Parker.
Zendaya continues to pursue other projects as well. She has her own clothing line, Daya by Zendaya, and wrote a book called Between U and Me, which is aimed at giving life advice to young fans. She is also outspoken about social issues, talking both in interviews and on social media about the importance of positive body image and self-love in the face of the beauty standards that are often imposed on young women. She has said on numerous occasions that she aspires to be a positive role model for her young fans, and she continues to work on child-friendly content such as her current Disney Channel show, K.C. Undercover, rather than attempting to break into the more “adult” roles that some other former Disney stars have taken on.
Zendaya has already accomplished a great deal for her age, and she is a positive figure for many young people. There is little doubt that her career will continue to grow in interesting directions in the future.