Zombie planes, mudslides, fracking waste, the meaningless and everlasting worship of a good set of zygomatic arches. Russia. Sometimes we just need to forget the world and decompress with a nice pop tune. Enter 17-year-old actress/singer/dancer/pianist Zendaya, who got her start alongside Bella Thorne in the Disney centrifuge, playing Rocky Blue on the sitcom Shake It Up. Now the renaissance gal has a new self-titled album coming out, a pilot in the works, and a movie slated for release this summer.
What in regards to your new album are you most excited to share with your Zswaggers [read: Zendayan Beliebers]?
I think mostly just the fact that it’s very personal. I love every song and I definitely feel it’s 100% my style. I wouldn’t do anything if I didn’t think it was 100% me as an artist.
Is there a song that’s most personal to you?
Not many of them are too emotional. They’re not like heart-wrenching ballads. I wanted to keep it pretty light, but one of the songs I really like is “Heaven Lost an Angel.” It has an old-school vibe. Originally the song was meant for a guy. I helped them rewrite it for a girl. It’s a big, long pick-up line. I think it’s cool that it’s reverse roles. It’s the girl trying to use all these corny pick-up lines on the guy.
Songs like “Butterflies” and “Replay” talk about being in love and accepting those feelings. What’s your advice on overwhelming crushes?
I would say my number one piece of advice is to find something you’re passionate about and make that your priority. Being girls, we think about guys all the time and put them in front of us. Find something that you love so much you don’t have to be distracted. Love is a great thing, as long as you first focus on yourself.
You also wrote a book, Between U and Me: How to Rock Your Tween Years with Style and Confidence. What’s your favorite chapter?
I think specifically I love the ones where it talks about BFFs; friendship issues. It’s a really big issue especially in school, dynamics of friendships.
You were on E! Fashion Police recently. Do you have a favorite trend this season?
Honestly, I don’t. I don’t even think I believe in trends, to be honest! I like being a trendsetter and finding new trends. When it comes to, “What’s the best color this season?” wear whatever color you want! Just because the leaves are changing doesn’t mean you have to!
You first found this fan base with your Disney show Shake It Up. Now you’ve got a spy pilot in the works. Tell me more.
I definitely want to stay with the Disney Channel and continue my young fan base. [Disney] came with this idea of this pilot called Super Awesome Katie. We’re changing it. I don’t really look like a Katie! It’s about a normal girl, socially a little awkward. Her parents turn out to be spies and they recruit her on a mission, but she feels like she’s not cut out to be anything special. It’s more mature than Shake it Up, or any other Disney show. It has a level of maturity but [it’s] also fun.
Who have some of your role models been?
Honestly role models will always be your parents. They are literally the role models. You learn from their mistakes, the things they teach you, right from wrong. I have a lot of older siblings too and it’s really nice that I have people that are a step between parents, the generation gap.
Photographer: Frederic Auerbach for opusreps.com.
Stylist: Johnathan Lawhorne for tmg-la.com.
Hair: Larry Sims for eamgmt.com using Go Pro Curls.
Makeup: Kathy Jeung for themagnetagency.com.
Manicure: Emi Kudo for opusbeauty.com using CND.
Videographer: Tyler Kindred.
Digital Tech: Dominic Escalante for popcapturedigital.com.
Lighting Assistant: Nate Bressler.
Hair Assistant: Jazmine Harris.
Beauty Notes: Body Butter In Coconut By Pure Fiji, Cleansing Water By Koh Gen Do, Cellular Eye Contour Cream By La Prairie, Wonderglow Instant Soft-Focus Beauty Flash Primer By Charlotte Tilbury Makeup, Concealer In Honey By Clé De Peau Beauté, All Over Seduction In Afterglow By Edward Bess, Cream Eyeshadow In Seduce By RMS Beauty, ‘The Precision’ Brow Pencil In Brunette By Kevyn Aucoin, Phenomen’eyes Mascara In Black By Givenchy, Lipstick In Sable Smoke And Ultra Shine Lip Gloss In Tawny Pink By Tom Ford Beauty, And Nail Lacquer In Powder My Nose By CND.