“A lot of people think I’m going to just praise everyone, but I definitely am going to give some criticism if I think it’s warranted,” the Disney Channel star tells PEOPLE exclusively.
The K.C. Undercover star knows she’s not as versed in the technical aspects of ballroom as her fellow judges Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tolioni, but she believes she brings a unique perspective to the panel.
“I’ve been a contestant before so I can understand what it takes to get out there on that stage in a way that none of the other judges can,” says the actress, who placed second to Kellie Pickler in 2013.
As a contestant, Zendaya says she learned that “if you really dedicate yourself to the experience, you can pull things out of you every week that you never imagined.”
So she’s focused on seeing some work ethic from the contestants on Monday.
“You can tell the difference between someone who is just going through the motions and someone who is really invested in the experience. I feel like if you are trying your hardest and pushing yourself, that’s what DWTS is about,” she says. “If your toes are perfectly pointed and your frame is a little off, that’s for the other judges to focus on. I’m going to be looking for a hunger and a want to be better.”
Zendaya, now 19, looks back at her time as a contestant on DWTS with nothing but positive memories, but that doesn’t mean she wants to step back out on that dance floor any time soon.
“I’ve always said, the only way I would come back to DWTS would be as a guest judge. I really don’t know how the pros come back every year,” she says. “It’s a really tough experience. I think people think it’s easy because you get out there and glide across the dance floor, but there is a ton of exhausting work that goes into that gliding.”
Disney Week on Dancing with the Stars airs Monday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.