Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman
September 1, 1996
Oakland, California, U.S.
Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman (// zən-DAY-ə; born September 1, 1996) is an American actress and singer. She began her career as a child model and backup dancer before gaining prominence for her role as Rocky Blue on the Disney Channel sitcom Shake It Up (2010–2013).
In 2013, Zendaya was a contestant on the sixteenth season of the competition series Dancing with the Stars. From 2015 to 2018, she produced and starred as the titular spy, K.C. Cooper, in the sitcom K.C. Undercover. Her performance as a teenager struggling with drug addiction in the HBO drama series Euphoria (2019–present) led her to become the youngest winner of the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Her film roles include the musical drama The Greatest Showman (2017), the superhero film Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) and its sequel, Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019) and the romantic drama Malcolm & Marie (2021).
Zendaya began her career in music by recording songs independently and releasing the singles "Swag It Out" and "Watch Me" in 2011, the latter a collaboration with Bella Thorne. She signed with Hollywood Records in 2012 and later released her debut single, "Replay", which reached number 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States. In 2013, her self-titled debut studio album debuted at No. 51 on the Billboard 200 chart. "Rewrite the Stars", taken from the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman, was released as a single in 2018. It reached the top twenty of the United Kingdom and Australian national charts and was certified double platinum in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia.
Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman was born on September 1, 1996, in Oakland, California to teachers Claire Stoermer and Kazembe Ajamu Coleman. Her father is African-American, with roots in Arkansas, while her mother has German and Scottish ancestry; she has five older siblings. Zendaya, whose name derives from the Shona name Tendai, meaning "to give thanks," attended Fruitvale Elementary School, where her mother taught for two decades. At age six, she and two friends from the school performed a play there for Black History Month. She grew as a performer in part at the nearby California Shakespeare Theater in Orinda, California, where her mother worked a summer job as the house manager. She helped her seat patrons, sell fundraising tickets, and was inspired by the theatrical performances to pursue acting. At eight, Zendaya joined a hip-hop dance troupe called Future Shock Oakland and was a member for three years. She also spent two years dancing hula with AHA, The Academy of Hawaiian Arts.
Zendaya attended Oakland School for the Arts and, while still a student, scored some roles in area theaters. At the Berkeley Playhouse, she played Little Ti Moune in Once on This Island, and in the TheaterWorks' production in Palo Alto, she played a character originally written as male, Joe, in Caroline, or Change. She studied at the CalShakes Conservatory program and at the American Conservatory Theater.
Her stage credits include performances in several of William Shakespeare's plays. She played Lady Anne in Richard III, Celia in As You Like It, and took part in a production of Twelfth Night. When Zendaya was in seventh grade, the family moved to Los Angeles. In 2015, while pursuing an acting career, she graduated from Oak Park High School.
2009–2015: Shake It Up and Dancing with the Stars
Zendaya began her career working as a fashion model for Macy's, Mervyns, and Old Navy. She was featured in an iCarly toys ad. She also appeared as a back-up dancer in a Sears commercial featuring Disney star Selena Gomez. In 2009, she was a featured performer in the Kidz Bop music video for its cover of the song "Hot n Cold" by Katy Perry, which was released on Kidz Bop 15. She auditioned in November 2009 for the role of CeCe Jones in the sitcom Shake It Up (titled Dance Dance Chicago at the time), but she was selected as Rocky Blue instead. For her audition, she performed Michael Jackson's "Leave Me Alone".
Shake It Up premiered on November 7, 2010, and was watched by 6.2 million viewers, becoming Disney Channel's second highest-rated premiere in Disney Channel's 27-year history. In 2011, Zendaya released "Swag It Out", a promotional independent single. She also starred in the book trailer for "From Bad To Cursed" by Katie Alender. In June of the same year, she released "Watch Me," performing with Bella Thorne. The song peaked at 86 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The second season of Shake It Up was announced on March 16, 2011, and premiered on September 18, 2011. Zendaya hosted Make Your Mark: Ultimate Dance Off 2011 on Disney Channel. In 2011, Target stores began selling D-Signed, a line of clothing inspired by the clothes worn by Zendaya and other cast members of Shake It Up.
Zendaya's first film role was in Frenemies (2012), a Disney Channel Original Movie. On February 29, 2012, "Something to Dance For" was released as promotional single for Live 2 Dance. For the soundtrack, Zendaya also recorded three other songs: "Made In Japan," "Same Heart", and "Fashion Is My Kryptonite", released as promotional single. In June 2012, Shake It Up was renewed for a third and final season. On September 2, 2012, she signed to Hollywood Records. In October, she performed at the Teen Music Festival and at the Operation Smile benefit. In February 2013, Zendaya was announced as one of the celebrities who would compete on season 16 of Dancing with the Stars. At age 16, she was the youngest contestant ever to participate on the show, before Willow Shields succeeded her at age 14 on season 20. She was partnered up with professional dancer Valentin Chmerkovskiy. In May, the couple finished as runners-up behind Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough.
Zendaya's self-titled debut album was released on September 17, 2013. It was preceded by the single "Replay", released on July 16, 2013, written by Tiffany Fred and Paul "Phamous" Shelton. In August 2013, she was cast as 16-year-old Zoey Stevens, the lead character in the Disney Channel Original Movie Zapped, whose "smart phone begins to somehow control all the boys around her". In November 2013, Zendaya was selected as Elvis Duran's Artist of the Month and was featured on NBC's Today, where she performed live her single "Replay". That same month, she was cast as the lead in a Disney Channel pilot called Super Awesome Katy. It was ordered to series by Disney Channel in May 2014, with the series now under the title K.C. Undercover, and with Zendaya's character now named K.C. Cooper rather than Katy Cooper. Zendaya exerted influence over the renaming of her character and the retitling of the series, also deciding several key elements of the character's personality. K.C. Undercover premiered on Disney Channel on January 18, 2015, and was renewed for a second season in May 2015.
In 2014, Zendaya was a guest judge on an episode of Project Runway: Under the Gunn. In the episode, the contestant designers were given the challenge of creating an outfit for Zendaya to wear in an upcoming concert performance. In February 2015, after a joke made by Giuliana Rancic concerning Zendaya, in reference to her hair smelling of "patchouli oil" and "weed" at the 87th Academy Awards, Zendaya promptly took to Instagram to address the remark and point out that many successful people have "locs," a hairstyle that has nothing to do with drugs. Mattel honored Zendaya with her own Barbie, replicating her Oscars look. The following month, musician Timbaland confirmed that he was working with Zendaya on her second album, following her switching record labels from Disney to Republic. "Something New", featuring Chris Brown was released on February 5 via Hollywood Records and Republic Records. The song also marks it as her first official release since signing to Republic Records.
2016–present: Film breakthrough, Euphoria, and transition to adult roles
In December 2016, Zendaya appeared as a guest judge in the season finale of the 15th season of the reality television series Project Runway. She made her feature film debut as Michelle in the superhero film Spider-Man: Homecoming, which was released in July 2017. Zendaya wore no makeup to her screen test, a decision that was carried through in production, and "add[ed] her own embellishments to the role, such as carrying around a mug of herbal tea". The film grossed $117 million in its first weekend, ranking number one at the box office. John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter praised her as a "scene stealer," while David Ehrlich of IndieWire called her the film's "MVP," despite her brief screen time. In August, she appeared in the music video for the song "Versace on the Floor" by Bruno Mars.
In December, Zendaya co-starred in the original musical film The Greatest Showman. She portrayed a trapeze artist who falls in love with Zac Efron's character during a time when interracial romance was taboo. Owen Gleiberman of Variety praised her chemistry with Efron. The Hollywood Reporter praised Zendaya for "[registering] strongest, bringing touching sensitivity to her handful of scenes". Zendaya appeared on three tracks of the film's soundtrack, including "Rewrite the Stars". The film met mixed reception but became the third-highest grossing live-action musical ever released.
In June 2019, Zendaya began starring in the HBO drama series Euphoria, an adaptation of the Israeli series of the same name, as Rue, a 17-year-old drug addict and the narrator of the series. Ben Travers of IndieWire wrote that she "adds heartbreaking levity to moments when her spiraling character feels invincible instead of fragile". The Guardian's Rebecca Nicholson called her performance "astonishing" and "mesmerizing". For her performance, she won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, becoming the youngest winner of the award.
Also in 2019, she reprised her role as MJ in Spider-Man: Far from Home. Critic Christy Lemire called Zendaya's portrayal "darkly alluring" and praised her "humorous, deadpan charm". The film was a commercial success, becoming the fourth highest-grossing release of the year.
In 2021, Zendaya starred in Malcolm & Marie, which was filmed during the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. The production complied with extensive safety protocols and had a lean crew to minimize health dangers. The film co-stars John David Washington, and was directed by Sam Levinson, who also created Euphoria. Zendaya allocated shares to the film to everyone involved in its making, as a way of offering a financial bonus when the movie was sold. Part of the proceeds was shared with Feeding America. The film had a mixed reception but Zendaya's performance was positively reviewed. Brian Truitt of USA Today described her as "luminous" and "absolute fire", and Variety's Peter Debruge praised her for "wear[ing] Marie's fragility on the surface, only to reveal the character’s strength through reaction shots and silence".
Zendaya will portray Chani in Denis Villeneuve's science fiction film Dune, the first part of a planned two-part adaptation of the 1965 novel of the same name, scheduled for release in October 2021. She will also rejoin filmmaker Jon Watts for a leading role in Spider-Man: No Way Home, which is scheduled to be released in December 2021. In September 2020, it was announced that Zendaya had been cast as Ronettes frontwoman Ronnie Spector in a biopic adapted from Spector's memoir Be My Baby.
Since 2017, Zendaya has been attached to produce and star in A White Lie, as Anita Hemmings, an African-American woman who was a descendant of slaves and Europeans, and passed as white in order to attend Vassar College in the 1890s. In 2018, she was cast in Brian Helgeland's crime thriller Finest Kind. In April 2021, it was announced that Zendaya would voice the character of Lola Bunny in Space Jam: A New Legacy.
Zendaya was the face of Beats Electronics, "X-Out", "Material Girl", CoverGirl, and Chi Hair Care. In August 2013, she released her debut book, Between U and Me: How to Rock Your Tween Years with Style and Confidence to "help girls through the tougher parts of the tween years". In August 2015, she debuted her shoe collection named Daya, which was her childhood nickname. In November 2016, Zendaya's clothing line Daya by Zendaya went on sale, second collection was gender-fluid and included full range of sizes. In October 2018, she became Tommy Hilfiger brand's ambassador and co-designed Tommy x Zendaya capsule collections. She took inspiration from the '70s, namely the decade's "strong, iconic women", and her runway shows at Paris Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week has been praised for celebrating diversity and inclusivity including women of colour, plus-size and models aged up to 70; the shows were also a tribute to the pioneering model icons. In 2019, Zendaya became a spokesmodel for Lancôme, and in the following year for Bulgari and Valentino.
Zendaya was ranked one of the best dressed women in 2018 by fashion website Net-a-Porter. For her InStyle 2020 September issue she chose with her stylist, Law Roach, all black designers, artists and creatives. In October 2020, she won the Visionary Award at the CNMI Green Carpet Fashion Awards for "her efforts in promoting diversity and inclusion in fashion and film".
Philanthropy and advocacy
Zendaya has lent her support to several charities and causes. In 2012, she became an ambassador for Convoy of Hope and encouraged fans to support Hurricane Sandy response efforts. The following year she promoted other relief efforts. In 2014, Zendaya recorded John Legend's song "All of Me" with a portion of the proceeds going to the organization. The same year, she celebrated her 18th birthday with a campaign to help feed at least 150 hungry children in Haiti, Tanzania and the Philippines through feedONE, and in 2016, she celebrated her 20th birthday with a campaign to raise $50,000 to support Convoy's Women's Empowerment Initiative. In October 2012, Zendaya performed at the medical Operation Smile benefit. She was UNICEF's Trick-or-Treat 2014 campaign spokesperson. In July 2015, she visited South Africa with UNAIDS, the United Nations programme dedicated to preventing and creating access to treatment for HIV and AIDS. Then she also held a fundraiser with CrowdRise, with proceeds going to non-profit, community based, Ikageng charity in Soweto for a family of AIDS orphans. When Malcolm & Marie, filmed during the pandemic, was sold in September 2020, a portion of the proceeds was shared with Feeding America.
Zendaya supports campaigns to raise awareness about underserved communities, underprivileged schools and to financially support schools. In September 2017, she partnered with Verizon Foundation as a spokesperson for their national #WeNeedMore initiative to bring technology, access and learning opportunities to children. She was also empowering them to pursue careers in STEM. In March 2018, Zendaya teamed up with Google.org to give back to students at community school in Oakland funding an innovative computer science curriculum.
Zendaya is a feminist. In January 2017, she attended the Women's March on Washington to showcase her support of women's rights. She has previously discussed her experience as a black female in Hollywood. She uses her social platforms to address racial justice, voting, body shaming and bullying. She has been showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement on her social media accounts for years; she took part in the George Floyd protests in June 2020 and temporarily lent her Instagram account to Patrisse Cullors to share anti-racism resources and media. Zendaya has been an advocate for voting over the years. In October 2016, she was one of the celebrities to participate in "Vote Your Future" initiative and appeared in a campaign video. In September 2020, she encouraged her fans with Michelle Obama, and her "When We All Vote" nonpartisan organization, to check their voter registration ahead of elections. The next month, she shared a video while casting her vote to remind about voting again. In October 2013, she took part in P&G's movement called Mean Stinks, and co-hosted the nationwide live-streamed assembly joined by almost 500 schools. In September 2017, she was fronting, along with her Spider-Man: Homecoming costars, a PSA for awareness campaign Stomp Out Bullying.
Zendaya also supported American Heart Association, City Year, Communities in Schools, DonorsChoose.org, Children Mending Hearts, Toys for Tots, Friends for Change and Donate My Dress, among others.
Zendaya owns a home in Los Angeles. She is a vegetarian and explained that "my main reason for being a vegetarian is that I’m an animal lover – definitely not because I love vegetables". Her interests include singing, dancing, and designing clothes.
|Denotes productions that have not yet been released|
|2013||Super Buddies||Lollipop (voice)||Robert Vince||Direct-to-DVD|
|2017||Spider-Man: Homecoming||Michelle||Jon Watts|
|The Greatest Showman||Anne Wheeler||Michael Gracey|
|2018||Duck Duck Goose||Chi (voice)||Chris Jenkins|
|Smallfoot||Meechee (voice)||Karey Kirkpatrick|
|2019||Spider-Man: Far from Home||MJ||Jon Watts|
|2021||Malcolm & Marie||Marie||Sam Levinson||Also producer|
|Space Jam: A New Legacy||Lola Bunny (voice)||Malcolm D. Lee|
|Spider-Man: No Way Home||MJ||Jon Watts||Post-production|
|2010–13||Shake It Up||Rocky Blue||Main role|
|2011||Good Luck Charlie||Rocky Blue||Episode: "Charlie Shakes It Up"|
|PrankStars||Herself||Episode: "Walk the Prank"|
|Pixie Hollow Games||Fern||Television special; voice role|
|2012||A.N.T. Farm||Sequoia Jones||Episode: "Creative consultANT"|
|Frenemies||Halley Brandon||Television film|
|2013||Dancing with the Stars||Herself||Contestant (season 16), and runner-up|
|The Story of Zendaya||Herself||Television series|
|2014||Zapped||Zoey Stevens||Television film|
|The Making of SWAY||Herself||Television dancing-preparation show; 8 episodes|
|SWAY: A Dance Trilogy||Herself||Television dance show|
|2015–18||K.C. Undercover||K.C. Cooper||Main role; also co-producer|
|2015||Black-ish||Rasheida||Episode: "Daddy's Day"|
|2017||Walk the Prank||Herself||Episode: "K.C. Undercover Edition"|
|Lip Sync Battle||Herself||Episode: "Tom Holland vs. Zendaya"|
|2019||The OA||Fola||3 episodes|
|2019–present||Euphoria||Rue Bennett||Main role|
- Zendaya (2013)
- Swag It Out Tour (2012–2014)
Awards and nominations
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- As pronounced by Zendaya in the following:
- "A Slate Show" with Stephen Colbert, Feat. Megan Thee Stallion, Tom Hanks and More. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. March 13, 2021. Event occurs at 1:10. Retrieved March 14, 2021 – via YouTube.
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'This is my home,' said Zendaya about her trip to Oakland. 'I was born and raised here...'
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Being a young African-American woman, it’s important to know where you come from. ... My mom and my grandma do tons of research on where we're from [on the maternal side]: Scotland and Germany.
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In the summers she accompanied her mom to her [mom's] second job as a house manager for the California Shakespeare Theater.
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Event Date(s): 11/19/2013; Zendaya performs her song “Replay” live in studio
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Super Awesome Katy centers on 16-year-old Katy Cooper (Zendaya), an outspoken and confident technology wiz and skilled black belt, who discovers that both her parents are spies who expect her to follow in their footsteps.
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The cable network has given a series order to spy comedy K.C. Undercover (previously Super Awesome Katy), starring the Shake It Up alum.
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...She objected to the show's title, which at the time was Super Awesome Katy... She then rejected her character's name... and insisted that the show feature a family of color.
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