Zendaya may only be 22, but she’s already got a decade in Hollywood under her belt. The former Disney star covers the latest issue of Vogue, and inside, she opens up about her unusual life in the spotlight, and how it influenced—and didn’t—her role in the upcoming HBO teen drama Euphoria.
In the show, which also stars Storm Reid and Maude Apatow, she portrays a recovering drug addict, worlds away from the dancer she played in Disney’s Shake It Up, and her own life.
Zendaya said: “Obviously, there's not much in my own experience of being a teen that I could draw on, especially when it comes to struggling with addiction.”
She added that working on a high-profile show for HBO is a bit different too: “It's a totally different thing than being the star of K.C. Undercover. That first day on set, I was honest-to-God terrified.”
Zendaya knows she has a high-profile, but seems cautious about taking too much credit for activism: “I keep thinking, Is there a way I can help with this, through art? I mean, obviously, I've got a platform…but I also know, don't just post whatever. You've got to listen to people. Talking is important. But walking the talk is important, too.”
She added: “It's nice. but I'm not. What I'd really like is to reach out to my peers in the Bay Area. Like, there are kids I was in elementary school with, who are out there doing the work. Organizing. Maybe they can help me figure out what to do.”
Zendaya first came to widespread notice in 2015, when her long dreadlocks got dragged by E!’s Fashion Police. She slapped back at the critics at the time, writing on Instagram: “There is already harsh criticism of African-American hair in society without the help of ignorant people who choose to judge others based on the curl of their hair. My wearing my hair in locs on an Oscar red carpet was to showcase them in a positive light, to remind people of color that our hair is good enough.”
She says now of the incident: “I mean, I’d basically snuck onto the red carpet, the plus one of a plus one. In 2018, I got invited back as a presenter. So I guess I won.”