The Euphoria, Spider-Man and Dune actor is as captivating off-screen as she is on camera. With pearls of wisdom and a sense of humour, much of what she has to say resonates with many. Ahead, we’ve tracked down some of our favourite Zendaya quotes on everything from family and her heritage, to acting and fame.
Zendaya has been grabbing headlines throughout 2021. She held leading roles in many of the year’s most talked-about films including Malcolm & Marie, the latest Spider-Man, Dune and Space Jam: A New Legacy.
Zendaya on being an actress
In 2013, Zendaya released her eponymous debut album, which included the hit single Replay. But, despite her music success, it’s clear that acting owns her heart.
“There’s a layer of personal life that I think actors get that music artists don’t,” she told Allure in 2019. “[Musicians] have no character to hide behind, so they have to be very open. [As actors] we get a little bit of a separation.”
But she has also made it clear that she’s open to trying new things. “I don’t necessarily have a plan. I’ve never really thought, ‘I have to do this by this time and I want to do this by that time,’” she told Interview magazine this month.
“I just want to do the things that make me happy and bring me joy and fulfil me as an artist.”
Zendaya on body positivity
In 2015, Zendaya called out Modeliste Magazine on Instagram for releasing photoshopped images of her.
In the post, she wrote: “These are the things that make women self-conscious, that create the unrealistic ideals of beauty that we have. Anyone who knows who I am knows I stand for honest and pure self-love.”
“There is no such thing as ugly. That’s a word that doesn’t really enter my vocabulary,” she later told New You on the topic.
More recently, comments on being taller than her partner Holland have circulated the internet, a topic the couple agreed is misogynist on SiriusXM.
“This is normal,” Zendaya added. “My mom is taller than my dad. My mom’s taller than everyone.”
Zendaya on discrimination
“There’s literally injustice happening every second. It’s intense and it’s overwhelming,” she told Allure in 2019.
“But what do we do about it? All I can say is try to find a balance between doing the work and still not letting it destroy you as a person and destroy your hope and faith in humanity[…] It’s allowing yourself to be angry enough to want to be motivated to do something, but not to where it breaks you down.”
Zendaya on using her fame to shed light on social issues
”I am really proud of the fact that I’m able to use people knowing my name and knowing who I am for good things, whether it’s a simple tweet or a paragraph about how something made me feel,” she said to Time in a 2015 interview.
“I also don’t want to say that I just tweeted my life away,” she added in Interview Magazine in her cover interview this year.
“Hopefully my ability to be a storyteller, to make those stories that I haven’t seen, to showcase different forms of Black love and the different colours of our emotional experience—that will be my speaking out,” she said. “We learn how to be a person not just through interactions, but by watching movies and TV.”
Zendaya on family
“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised my true [role] models are my parents. My mom is like a sheroe. My dad is so strong. I look up to my big sister and realise the influence she’s had on me and making me a better person. Having such a big, grounded family, I’ve realised as you get older how important that is.” - Time
Zendaya on her mixed heritage
Zendaya has Black, German, and Irish heritage. “America is such a melting pot — everyone’s from everywhere. The only people who are native are Native Americans. So everyone’s an immigrant in a sense,” she said to Hunger Magazine in an interview back in 2015.
“I have that pride in knowing that I’m an African American. I think when you develop pride in where you’re from then you have more respect and understanding in terms of where other people are from also.”
Zendaya on personal image and privilege
Demi Lovato criticised Mattel back in 2015 for not going with a curvier body type after the toy company made a Barbie in the likeness of Zendaya.
“Tackling a big thing like having a locs on a Barbie doll, that’s a big deal right there! And that’s a big deal for a lot of African American women,” Zendaya later told Time. “But she raised a big point. What needs to be tackled in the future is body types and body image, which a lot of people deal with on a daily basis.”
“I also think it’s important being a light-skinned woman to recognise my privilege in that sense as well and make sure that I’m not taking up space where I don’t need to,” she said to The Hollywood Reporter.
Euphoria season 2 will be released weekly from 10 January on Sky Atlantic and streaming service NowTV.