She may just be 19 but the multi-talented singer, dancer and actress Zendaya Coleman was named the Woman of Next Year 2016 by Complex Magazine.
In an interview for the December/January issue of Complex Magazine, Coleman talks about being a role model and promises not to go off the rails like other former Disney stars. Speaking of Miley Cyrus and other former child stars, Zendaya says, “A lot of them were forced into being role models and they had to pretend to be something that they didn’t feel matched up with who they were. And that’s because they started really, really young. So you’ve got to realize when you’re really young you don’t know who you are yet. And as soon as you figure it out, you’ve already been forced to become something that you didn’t really know you signed up for.”
“Everyone has their different ways of learning and growing and finding out who they are, and you can’t fault people for that. Again, I think with all the prior Disney stars, at least you can say they are themselves now,” she adds.
Zendaya, however, seems to have already found the answer to avoid the slippery slope of stardom at a young age. “In order to avoid those problems just be yourself from the beginning and be honest with the world, because that’s the only thing you can do. There will be no surprises… I’m not suddenly going to be like woo, crazy,” she states.
“Of course [I think about it]. I think it’s a responsibility, but like Tupac Shakur, I’m a real model. Which means: I’m not pretending to be something that I’m not, because like he said, people are going to be disappointed when they find out who you are, because it’s not going to be what you presented to the world. So just keep it real. I’m a good kid and that’s all,” the Dancing with The Stars star adds.
In the interview, Coleman also speaks of the time she hit back at Giuliana Rancic for racially insensitive comments about her dreadlocks at last year’s Oscars:
“All my brothers and my Dad at one point had dreadlocks. My little nieces have curly hair. And if they were to have someone say something demeaning about what they have and what they hold dear to them, then I would want them to at least have the pride within themselves to come up with a response that made sense and that they were proud of.’
Speaking of her biracial identity, Coleman says, “You get the best and the worst of both worlds. I know there were a lot of times when you try to figure out where you fit in. I just realized that it worked to my advantage because I just got along with a lot of people. But to literally be two races, it’s really hard to see color because I’m the gray area. I had to learn about both sides of myself and be really proud of and educated in both. I think that’s why I’m comfortable with myself and can speak on certain issues because I’ve taken the time, or my parents have taken the time, to teach me who I am.”
Read the full interview over at Complex.