Is This a Warning? Zendaya, 21: I’m at the age ‘when people take advantage and abuse their power’


Zendaya is covering the January issue of InStyle, where she’s promoting The Greatest Showman, out December 20th. You can see the trailer here, I will watch it! I love seeing movies over the holidays. It also stars Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, and Zac Efron. It looks like the perfect family-friendly holiday movie and I bet it will make bank. I’ve never read a bad interview with Zendaya and this is no exception. In Style reveals that she did her own trapeze stunts for the film, which is impressive, but she’s not gloating or trying to use it as a talking point. Zendaya is just matter-of-fact about things. She also discusses her clothing line, being a role model and how she takes that seriously and sexual harassment.

On her rise to the top
“It’s weird to be like, ‘Hmm, how successful am I?’ I just try to live, and, you know, shit happens. I’ve said it a million times, but I’d rather be known for the active change I’ve made that for what my name stands for.”

On her clothing line being gender neutral
“I just felt that if I’m going to do a clothing line, that’s the only way I see it being done. That’s the future of fashion.”

On navigating fame
“I’ve had the luxury of watching people do this before me, and I realize that [being a role model] is actually a huge part of the job. You sign up for that. You’re being watched. You can choose to accept that and appreciate it, or you can choose not to. That’s 100 percent your choice. I choose to acknowledge it.”

On sexual harassment in Hollywood
“The bravery of the women who came forward is a huge step toward making sure it’s safer for me and other young women who are just coming up. I’m at that prime age right now. Twenty-one. Starting off. That’s when people take advantage and abuse their power and do terrible shit. I think it’s definitely a sisterhood.”

On her role in The Greatest Showman
“A big part of my character’s storyline, the reason that she is an oddity, is that she and her brother are black…I’m biracial, so there are many [shared] experiences there.”

Zendaya also talked about training to do her own stunts, and how she enjoyed doing that with Zac Efron particularly. She said they would text each other about how sore they were the next day and that “It was good to have a partner who was just as excited as I was.” For his part, Zac calls working with Zendaya “awesome” and gushes about her moves. You can see a brief interview with the two of them including clips from the film below.

I’m struck by what a work ethic Zendaya has, and how thoughtful she is about just about every aspect of fame. She’s not a navel-gazer, she doesn’t sound full of herself, and she strives to be informed and articulate about issues. She’s dedicated to her work and yet she somehow seems laid back. Also, I love her fashion particularly. She’s one who takes risks and can pull off just about any look.

We’ve heard for some time that Zendaya’s parents are protective of her. Her dad famously chaperoned her on a date when she was 19. That may sound excessive, but given everything we’ve learned about her industry in the past few weeks, it was probably smart of them. Not that it’s ever enough.

Look at her puppy!

Zendaya is shown at the airport on 11-22 and at an event on 11-14. Photos Credit: InStyle by Anthony Maule, Backgrid, and WENN