"A lot of times in this industry, it’s about recognizing your power and not selling yourself short," said the Euphoria actress

By Benjamin VanHoose
June 25, 2020 11:11 AM
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Zendaya
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Zendaya is opening up about forging a path for herself beyond her Disney Channel launchpad.

In a new installment of Variety's "Actors on Actors" series, the Euphoria actress, 23, spoke with Pose star M.J. Rodriguez about manifesting a Hollywood career removed from her child-star spotlight.

Zendaya starred on Disney Channel's Shake It Up alongside Bella Thorne from 2010 to 2013, later headlining K.C. Undercover from 2015 to 2018.

"I had just been doing Disney Channel for so long. I started when I was 13 years old. By the time I was 17, I had a better understanding and focus of what I wanted," she said. "A lot of times in this industry, it’s about recognizing your power and not selling yourself short. It’s kind of like that corny thing of 'know your worth.'"

"It’s knowing what you can bring to the table," she added, "and I knew that I had more to offer in a more professional capacity."

Zendaya explained that her interest in being credited as a producer on K.C. Undercover was because she "wanted to learn what it was like to do all that stuff behind the scenes."

"My hope is," she said, "the more that I’m able to do the behind-the-scenes stuff, the more voices I can uplift that aren’t necessarily mine."

Shake It Up
Bruce Birmelin / Disney Channel via Getty Images

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Zendaya previously opened up about her experiences as a child actress in 2014. She told Yahoo! Style that rising to co-producer status on her show allowed her to be "assertive" and have a "really strong voice and presence on my own show."

"Selena [Gomez], Miley [Cyrus], Demi [Lovato] — they're all different and they all went different ways," Zendaya said at the time of her fellow Disney alums. "Everyone has their own version of their career that they want to create and things they want to do and accomplish."

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Zendaya further elaborated on her post-Disney career path in a new Drama Actress Roundtable with The Hollywood Reporter, explaining that she "wanted to prove myself," and that she tends to be her own worst critic.

"Being a young Disney actor, that's one level, being a young Black woman is one level, and then being very hard on myself is another level. It's also just a personal fear," said Zendaya. "I want to do a good job, and sometimes that can cause you to be fearful of things."

"But I will say that there's something that happens when a special character comes along, for me at least, and those fears melt away," she said of her complex Euphoria character Rue, a teen struggling with drug addiction. "... But now, I'm excited to go back because the motivation is to work harder and become a better actress. I just want to get better."