An in-depth look at Zendaya’s career- from Disney Channel star to Emmy winner


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Zendaya struts on the red carpet for the premier of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” in Hollywood, California on June 26, 2019.

Zendaya Coleman, known as Zendaya, is one of the most favored actresses in the nation, and one whom students grew up watching. Known mainly for her role in the Disney Channel sitcoms Shake It Up and in the HBO teen drama Euphoria, Zendaya has proved time and time again that her talent ranges across genres.

Although Zendaya was a child actor, dancer, and model, she did not gain fame until 2010 premier of the hit children’s show Shake It Up. The show is centered around Chicago best friends Cece Jones, played by Bella Thorne, and Zendaya’s character Rocky Blue. The two audition to be background dancers on a local dance show called Shake It Up, Chicago, and get the parts. The rest of the show depicts their adventures as high school teens who are on TV.

The series premiere of Shake It Up gained 6.2 million viewers, making it the second highest-rated premier in Disney Channel’s 27 year history. Junior Ethan Fayne was an avid watcher of the series. “Shake It Up was a show that I always liked to watch when I was younger. Zendaya’s character was definitely my favorite. I found out who Zendaya was through the show but I still watch some of her movies and shows today. She is such an amazing actress even at the young age of when Shake It Up premiered,” Fayne said.

While filming Shake It Up, Zendaya also came out with songs such as “Swag it Out” and “Watch Me,” acted in other Disney Channel movies like Frenemies and made guest appearances in other Disney Channel shows like Good Luck Charlie. As Shake It Up gained popularity, fans started to notice how talented of a dancer Zendaya was. She starred in season 16 of Dancing With the Stars in 2013 at just 16-years-old. At the time, she was the youngest person to ever be on the show.

As she became older, Zendaya began to star in popular, big-time films with serious, well-respected actors. In 2017, she starred in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Homecoming as Michelle Jones, alongside Tom Holland, and in the series’ second movie Spider-Man: Far From Home in 2019. In 2017, Zendaya also starred as Zac Efron’s love interest, Anne Wheeler, in the movie-musical The Greatest Showman.

In the summer of 2019, Zendaya was once again in the spotlight for her role as the main character, Rue Bennett, in the HBO series Euphoria. The show follows Bennett, a drug-addicted depressed teen in L.A., through her adventures in high school. The series has gained mass attention due to the somewhat realistic interpretation of controversial topics that teens face in high school. Topics include exploring sexuality, drug and alcohol abuse, mental health issues and much more.

At the Emmy Awards last month, Zendaya won best lead actress in a drama for her role as Bennett, beating out actresses like Jennifer Aniston and Laura Linney. At the age of 24, Zendaya is the youngest person to ever win this award. Zendaya herself was shocked to receive the award over her decades-older counterparts. “This is pretty crazy. Thank you to all of the other incredible women in this category. I admire you all so much,” Zendaya said on stage as she received the award.

Zendaya is an unproblematic, extremely talented actress who uses her platform for good. I think she is an inspiration to many kids around the world who grew up watching her, like myself.

— Salma Younis

One thing that sticks Zendaya out from other actors is her activism. Zendaya is known for speaking her mind on topics that are important to her. These topics include prevalent issues in our society such as Black Lives Matter and climate change. She also became an ambassador for Convoy of Hope, a faith-based nonprofit organization that provides food, supplies, and humanitarian services to impoverished people around the world, in 2012.

Senior Salma Younis looks to Zendaya as a role model. “Zendaya is an unproblematic, extremely talented actress who uses her platform for good. I think she is an inspiration to many kids around the world who grew up watching her, like myself. I was really happy to hear that she won the Emmy. She deserves it and more,” Younis said.