She is only 21, but Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman feels more like a 70-year-old grandmother than a fresh-faced ingénue who can sing, dance, act, and even fly trapeze. Here, the multi-talented starlet talks with Cardi B about her mature nature, chasing happiness, and finding the “hood” in her.
Cardi B: You’re so young, you’re such a baby. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Zendaya: I want to chase what makes me happy. And what I mean is, I don’t care what I’m doing if I love what I’m doing—making movies or music. And the day that I decide that it doesn’t make me happy, I’m going to do something else. I don’t necessarily want all the fame or awards in the world, because that doesn’t mean anything. I would much rather be happy than be miserable with all these accolades.
CB: Right. A lot of people think that just making money and having fame makes you happy and it really don’t. What is your biggest fear?
Z: Sometimes, as a young person in this industry, I put a lot of pressure on myself to do the right thing. I think this is a flaw of mine. I get so afraid to make the wrong decisions, but I have to understand that I’m only 21 years old. I’m not going to always be perfect. You cannot let the fear of not being perfect stop you from doing anything at all. I still have a lot of things left to do in my career and it’s okay to frickin’ learn from a situation and grow from it.
CB: To me, you seem so angelic. You know, you are the Disney star. You seem like such a sweetheart. But…I know you’re from Oakland. My best friend is from Oakland, and she’s hood as fuck. That bitch is a fucking gangster. Do you think that you got some hood in you?
Z: Absolutely, there is definitely “hood” in me and it will never leave. It’s part of who I am, as it is part of my family. Listen, I was born and raised in Oakland, all my family is from there—multiple generations of Colemans. And they’re not from the Oakland Hills, we are from the hoods of Oakland. It’s something that I’m proud of and I’m lucky to be where I’m from. My aunties held Black Panther party meetings in the downstairs basement of our house that I grew up in. You learn so much from those experiences and from those stories.
CB: When I turned 21, my life changed. I’d been working in clubs since I was 19, but I wasn’t able to get into certain clubs, and I wasn’t able to drink. You just turned 21. Has life changed for you or have you already had access to, you know, things that 21-year-old people have access to? [Laughs]
Z: A common nickname for me is Grandma, and that’s not chosen, that’s given. Somewhere along the line some 70-year-old woman creeped into my soul. I got the 21-year-old body, but my soul is much older than that. As for my “big 21” or whatever, I don’t drink, never have, and I don’t want to. There’s nothing wrong with it, and I don’t judge anybody who does. I just don’t care. My life is so stressful as it is. I really don’t want to rely on anything to unwind. Grandma is good at being at home, being on Netflix, and chilling with her little nieces who live 10 minutes away. Grandma is very family-oriented.
CB: As I’ve gotten older, what I look for in a guy has definitely changed. What do you look for in a guy?
Z: Respect is my number one thing, and I think it shows in different ways. With anybody you’re with, you have to have a layer of respect, courtesy, understanding, and tolerance. It’s also important to have somebody who makes you laugh. If someone can’t make me laugh, then that’s wack. And not just kind of laugh, but pee-my-pants laugh.
CB: Do you feel like you need somebody who’s in the industry? I used to date guys who didn’t understand the importance of certain things. My guy, who was in jail, would be like, “Why do you have to do another magazine interview?”
Z: It’s definitely helpful. There’s just certain things in our lives that’s hard for people to understand if they don’t live it. Like if I have to explain what a call time is or why I have to start glam early. I’m not just sitting around all day. I’m on camera, I’m shooting, I’m working, I can’t have my phone. But that doesn’t mean somebody who’s not in the industry can’t understand it or wouldn’t want to learn or understand it.
CB: It’s totally helpful because when I used to tell guys, “Oh my gosh, I’m about to shoot for this magazine and I’m so excited!” They used to be like, “Okay, what the fuck is that?”
Z: Exactly. You get it.
CB: Who inspires you?
Z: Of course my parents and people like Michelle Obama, who I think are amazing. It’s the women in my life—my mom, my older sister, my grandmothers, and my little nieces, even they inspire me. Seeing them look up to me inspires me to be better. I’m with my sister every day, but I don’t think she even knows how much she inspires me.
CB: You really are a big role model to young girls. Do you do certain things that you belike, “Oh my gosh, if people knew that I do that shit, they ain’t gonna think that!”
Z: [Laughs] I wish I had a cooler, juicier answer, but the truth is no. I’m really just boring as shit, and that has kept me out of trouble. I try to be the best that I can be, so that for whatever young person is watching me, it inspires them to be the best version of themselves as well. I want other young people to speak their minds, learn, and grow. I just stay to myself, minding my own business. The only times I’m ever active or loud is hopefully to make a difference, say something positive, to put attention where it needs to be, or do some type of activism, which I’m really passionate about. That’s whatI try to save my moments for.
CB: You’re so young! Go and have fun!I will protect you from the world!
Z: 21… I have a lot more life to live. Look, I don’t have all the answers, although some people would like me to.
PHOTOGRAPHER MARIO SORRENTI
CREATIVE DIRECTION RICCARDO TISCI
MAKE UP ISAMAYA FFRENCH
HAIR LARRY SIMS
MANICURIST LISA JACHNO
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