Zendaya Recalls the Moment She Realized She Could Call the Shots With Her Career

Alyssa Morin
·3 min read

Calling the shots!

Zendaya is opening up about finding her voice in Hollywood. She recalled having one of those aha moments during her Disney Channel days, when she felt empowered to speak up.

As she noted on The Hollywood Reporter's Awards Chatter podcast, it was a time when she realized she could "request things that I wanted."

She explained that once Shake It Up ended its final season in 2013, the studio wanted to create another show for her to star in. But before signing onto the project, K.C. Undercover, the 24-year-old star wanted to do so on her own terms.

"That was my first time realizing that I could have a little bit of power and request things that I wanted," Zendaya told the publication on March 5. "It was hugely important to me that it was a Black family being showcased. I just thought that that was important from the Disney Channel, considering that I know I watched it as a kid, and what I connected to the most was That's So Raven."

Zendaya Through the Years

The Euphoria actress added, "I think it's always important for kids to see themselves reflected on the screen, and when you're making child programming you have a little bit of an extra responsibility there."

It's no wonder the former Disney Channel star is set to receive the SeeHer Award at the Critics' Choice Awards on Sunday, March 7. She's also nominated for Best Actress in the movie category for her role in Netflix's Malcolm & Marie.

Zendaya, Emmys 2020, Emmy Awards
Zendaya, Emmys 2020, Emmy Awards

Just last month, the Critics' Choice Awards president explained why Zendaya couldn't be a more perfect choice for this honor.

"We are delighted to be presenting the award to Zendaya, who is such a strong representation of what it means to be a woman in 2021," Nadine Karp McHugh said in a statement in February. "She is showing the next generation that you are never too young to use your voice to make a difference. Inspiring girls everywhere to see themselves in their full potential, Zendaya represents everything SeeHer is."

The actress' latest role caused a lot of chatter over the 12-year age gap between her and co-star John David Washington, 36. But in true Zendaya fashion, she responded to the backlash with class.

Malcolm & Marie, Zendaya, John David Washington
Malcolm & Marie, Zendaya, John David Washington

Speaking to E! News about the controversy, she said she understood why people were having a hard time processing her and her co-star's difference in age.

"You have to remember, also, people grew up with me as a child," she shared in January. "It's like watching, I guess, your younger sibling now, you know, they're grown...So it's hard for people to wrap around the idea that I am grown in real life. You know, even though I do play a teenager on television still."

She added, "Sometimes when you don't see the roles that you want, sometimes you gotta be a part of creating them. So I'm grateful Sam [Levinson] wrote this movie for us."