The world might not have always been on a first-name basis with Zendaya, but that changed in a big way following this year’s Oscars ceremony when E! News host Giuliana Rancic made controversial comments about the actress’ choice to style her hair in dreadlocks. While the 18-year-old had hovered on the brink of superstardom for quite some time before that, it was a moment that catapulted her into instant fame. And it’s about time—this girl is deserving of recognition that extends far behind a distasteful quip made about her on cable TV.
Zendaya, who started her career on the Disney series “Shake It Up” at the tender age of 13 now has a series on the network called “K.C. Undercover,” on which she plays a teenage math genius and secret spy. What’s really impressive? She also has a producer credit on the series, which brings in a whopping 3 million viewers per episode, making it the number one teen show on TV.
Other achievements under her belt: She was the youngest person to compete on ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars” where she made it all the way to the final round, she’s an accomplished singer with a self-titled album, and she’s a bonafide social media superstar with over 5 million followers on both Instagram and Twitter, and a whopping 9 million fans on Facebook.
We sat down with the next big thing to chat about TV stardom, fashion, and, of course, how to take a good selfie.
StyleCaster: Your sense of fashion is pretty daring, how would you describe it?
Zendaya: Style-wise, I am fearless. I used to be very afraid until [my stylist] Law [Roach] got into my life. He pushes me to try new things, I push him to try new things, and we inspire each other as we go along. Everything kind of happens very organically and yeah, I would say [I am] fearless.
How did Law come to be your stylist?
We met through my auntie, it was so random. He just happened to be at her house one day, and I happened to have to go to a Justin Bieber premiere. I was 13 or 14 at the time, and I didn’t know what [clothing] to pick—I didn’t have any clothes—and I had to go buy something and I didn’t know what to do. So I was stressing a little bit and then he was like, ‘Hey, want me to help you? I’m a stylist.’ And I was like ‘Yeah, can you?’ We’ve been together ever since.
Who are your style icons?
Style-wise, I look up to people who like to do their own thing, people who march to the beat of their own drum, who dress for themselves and just don’t care. I am inspired by those kind of people. My dad is my style icon. Madonna is my style icon. And Erykah Badu.
Your new show “K.C. Undercover” premiered in January. Tell us a bit about it.
I’m really excited about it because there are many elements—every week she’s on a different mission and she is going somewhere else, and she is kicking somebody else’s butt, and she is having to balance another day and [also] her friends, her family, and her life as a spy. It’s not easy at all and I think you get to explore and grow with her as the season progresses.
Your fans often say that your selfie game can’t be beat—we need your tips, stat.
Lighting, people—always find good lighting! Face toward the window, unless you want to be backlit. Find your angles. Take some time one day, look in the mirror, and look at the different angles of your face. Embrace which one you like the best, so find your sweet spot. And pick the right filters. Don’t go crazy and bump up the exposure so much, or you’ll become a blob. People want to see your face—you’re beautiful. Find the right filters to enhance what you have going on.
Great advice! We have to take like 15 selfies to get a good one, is that the case for you?
Oh, it can be up to 50. It can be a good day where I am just like “Oh snap, I got that in the first three” or it can be like, I should just quit.
You can act, you can sing, you can dance. How do you see your career growing from here?
I see a lot of fun things [in my future]. I want to continue to produce and continue to do music—I have been in the studio a lot lately. I also like being on the big screen, so being a part of that world is something that I’m very passionate about.
Tell us what working in the studio has been like.
The music has to speak for itself—I’ve got to let the music do the talking or the singing. And because of that, I don’t mind taking the time to make something that I’m really happy about before I go out there and put it out. I work with producers so we co-write or they’ll have a song that’s already done and I’ll come in and write a second verse or change it up somehow, add harmonies, just to make it my own. Every single song [I do] definitely resonates with me in a different way. They’re all very personal.
If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you buy first?
I’d buy lots of diamonds! Jewelry, because that’ll last forever. Clothes start to perish but jewelry, my friend … it’s true what they say—diamonds are forever.
“K.C. Undercover”airs Sundays at 8:30 p.m. on Disney!