At only 25 years old, Zendaya has become one of the most popular actresses in Hollywood today. She is known for her roles in “Spider-Man”, “The Greatest Showman”, and “Euphoria”, but her talents go beyond the big screen as she is also talented musician and accomplished fashion designer.
Childhood and Education
Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman was born in Oakland in the state of California, United States on September 1, 1996. Her first name is derived from the Shona (Zimbabwe ethnic group) name Tendai which means “to give thanks”. She is of multiple ancestries together with her five siblings as their father is an African-American while their mother is of German and Scottish ancestry.
Zendaya attended Oakland School for the Arts and later at Oak Park High School where she graduated in 2015.
At a young age, Zendaya would already be drawn to acting and even participate in plays around the state. She played Little Ti Moune in Berkeley Playhouse’s “Once on This Island” and Joe in Theaterworks’ “Caroline, or Change”. She also has stage credits in several William Shakespeare plays including Lady Anne in “Richard III” and Celia in “As You Like It”.
While still at grade school, Zendaya appeared as a back-up dancer in a Selena Gomez Sears commercial and performed in a Kidz Bop music video covering Katy Perry’s “Hot n Cold”. She also worked as a fashion model for numerous fashion brands including Macy’s, Mervyns, and Old Navy.
Disney and Music Debut
In 2009 at the age of 13, Zendaya landed her first television role in Disney Channel’s “Shake It Up”, portraying Rocky Blue. The show’s premiere attracted 6.2 million viewers, one of the highest-rated premieres in the channel’s history. The show would last for three seasons and also see the breakout of teen star Bella Thorne.
Two years after her successful Disney debut, Zendaya released her first independent single “Swag It Out”. She signed with Hollywood Records which at the time housed top artists such as Selena Gomez, the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, and Demi Lovato, among others. Under Hollywood Records, Zendaya released her self-titled debut album which included the hit single “Replay”. The single went platinum while the album peaked at 51 in the U.S. Billboard 200.
Zendaya switched to Republic Records where she released “Something New” featuring Chris Brown, her first single under the music company. She also appeared on ABC’s “Greatest Hits” where she performed “Let Me Love You” with the song’s original artist Mario.
In 2015, Zendaya starred in another Disney show “KC Undercover” where she portrays the titular character. She had negotiated for her role in the show to be completely different from her “Shake It Up” character while also campaigning for the channel to add more actors from different racial backgrounds. In “KC Undercover”, she plays a high school student who also happens to be an undercover spy. The show lasted three seasons.
Zendaya made her movie red carpet debut in 2017’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming”. The film co-stars Tom Holland as the iconic web-slinger and Oscar nominees Robert Downey, Jr. and Michael Keaton as “Tony Stark/Iron Man” and “Adrian Toomes/Vulture” respectively. The film also marks Sony and Marvel Studios’ first partnership in bringing the comic book character back to the big screen. The film grossed $880 million in the global box office.
A few months later, Zendaya starred in the movie musical “The Greatest Showman” alongside a star-studded cast which includes Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Rebecca Ferguson, and Michelle Williams. She portrays trapeze artist Anne Wheeler, earning praise from both critics and fans. The film went to gross $434 million worldwide and also get nominated for Best Original Song (“This Is Me”) at the 2018 Oscars.
She lent her voice in two animated movies “Duck Duck Goose” and “Smallfoot” before reprising her role as MJ in “Spiderman: Far From Home”. The 2019 film is the sequel to “Spiderman: Homecoming” and is the first Marvel film set after the events of “Avengers: Endgame”. The film, which also co-stars Samuel Jackson and Jake Gyllenhal, earned more than its predecessor with a $1.1 billion global box office return.
With COVID-19 temporarily shutting down the film industry, Zendaya was still busy working on both big and small screen projects. She reprised her role as Rue Benett in the HBO drama “Euphoria”, a role that would win her an Emmy and Satellite Award for Best Actress. In 2021, she starred alongside John David Washington in the Netflix romantic drama “Malcolm & Marie” and also voiced Lola Bunny in the animated film “Space Jam: A New Legacy”.
Zendaya will end 2021 headlining two potential blockbusters: “Dune” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home”. “Dune” is a science fiction film based on Frank Herbert’s 1965 best-selling novel and co-stars Timothee Chalamet, Jason Momoa, Oscar Isaacs, and Rebecca Ferguson. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is the third entry in Sony/Marvel Studios’ highly successful trilogy and has already broken the record for most-viewed YouTube video in the first 24 hours of release (355.5 million).
Other Achievements & Personal Life
Over the years, Zendaya has also built a name in fashion. She launched her own fashion line “Daya by Zendaya” in 2016, became the ambassador for French luxury cosmetics brand Lancome in 2018, and collaborated with designer Tommy Hilfiger for the 2019 “Tommy x Zendaya” runway show.
Zendaya lives in Los Angeles and works on her hobbies (singing, dancing, and designing clothes) during her free time. She is also a vegetarian.
Not many can achieve what Zendaya has done at 25 years of age. But her success can also be attributed to her wide range of talents: a multi-faceted performer who also has an eye for fashion and social change.