Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman, known mononymously as Zendaya, is an American actress and singer. She began her career as a child model and backup dancer, before gaining prominence for her role as Rocky Blue on the Disney Channel sitcom Shake It Up (2010–2013). Zendaya has since expanded into film, starring as one of the leads in the musical drama The Greatest Showman (2017) and the superhero film Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) and its sequel Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019).
Early Life and Background
Zendaya was born on September 1, 1996 in Oakland, California. Her mother, Claire Stoermer, worked as a teacher at a local school. Her father, Kazembe Ajamu Coleman, worked for a Bay Area community theater organizing workshops and directing local plays.
Zendaya got an early introduction into the entertainment industry through her parents. At a young age she would help out at the California Shakespeare Theater where her mother was a house manager. Here she was exposed to acting and performance. Her father also signed her up for a dance group that performed local hula and hip-hop shows.
Table 1. Early Life Key Facts
|Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman
|Date of Birth
|September 1, 1996
|Place of Birth
|Oakland, California, U.S.
|Claire Stoermer and Kazembe Ajamu Coleman
From a young age, Zendaya was drawn to the creative arts as well as sports. She trained in many forms of dance while also playing soccer in school. Her introduction into show business started off with modeling work and commercials as a child.
Early Entertainment Careers
Zendaya began her entertainment career working as a fashion model for Macy’s, Mervyns and Old Navy as a child. She was featured in ads and catalogs for the department stores. Her early modeling work helped her gain experience with photo shoots, runways and more.
She graduated from modeling to appear as a back-up dancer for Selena Gomez and in Kidz Bop music videos. These song and dance performances on bigger platforms showcased her talents.
Her first lead entertainment role came in 2009 when she was cast in the Disney Channel sitcom Shake It Up at the age of 13.
Table 2. Early Entertainment Career Facts
|Child fashion model for department stores
|Backup dancer for Selena Gomez
|Appeared in Kidz Bop videos
|Cast in Disney Channel series Shake It Up
Shake It Up and Music
Zendaya was cast as one of the lead roles of Rocky Blue in the Disney sitcom Shake It Up in 2009. She starred alongside Bella Thorne as the show followed the adventures of best friends seeking fame as backup dancers on a local teen dance show. Shake It Up ran for three seasons from 2010 to 2013 and launched Zendaya’s fame and brand as a Disney Channel star.
The show featured Zendaya performing dances and songs during each episode, allowing her to showcase her singing and dancing talents. Several songs Zendaya performed on the show were featured on Shake It Up soundtrack albums, marking her debut recording artist work as well.
In 2012, she signed a record deal with Hollywood Records to begin her official music career. She wrote many of her own songs that incorporated pop with R&B sounds. Over the next few years she released a few singles such as “Swag It Out”, “Watch Me” with Bella Thorne, and “Replay”.
In 2013 she released her debut album called simply Zendaya. It reached as high as number 51 on the Billboard charts as she promoted it with a North American tour. While she continued to act, she was also establishing herself as a professional recording artist as well with top 20 hits like “Replay” off her debut album.
Table 3. Music Career Highlights
|Song performances on Shake It Up series
|Signs record deal with Hollywood Records
|Releases debut single “Replay”
|Debut album Zendaya released
|Embarks on Zendaya: Live in Concert Tour
After Shake It Up ended in 2013, Zendaya transitioned into more adult acting roles and projects outside of the Disney Channel realm. She made appearances in independent movies like 2016’s Spider-Man: Homecoming opposite Tom Holland. Zendaya played the role of Michelle/”MJ”, Parker’s friend and classmate. Her performance was praised as one of the highlights of the blockbuster superhero film.
She continued this success by reprising her role in the 2019 sequel Spider-Man: Far From Home which also received strong reviews from critics. Zendaya was beginning to make her mark in big Hollywood films and grow beyond her roots as a child star.
Her singing work also continued to progress with singles such as “Something New” featuring Chris Brown and “Rewind” with Gucci Mane being released in 2016. These songs showed off a more mature R&B sound and vocals from Zendaya as an adult singer.
In 2017, Zendaya released the single “Replay” which she performed at the Kids’ Choice Awards that year. The song was written about having fond memories of young love. The track continued to showcase her development as an artist with her own unique style.
Table 4. Transition to Adult Roles
|Cast as Michelle/”MJ” in Spider-Man: Homecoming film
|Releases “Something New” single featuring Chris Brown
|Performs “Replay” at Kids’ Choice Awards
|Reprises Michelle role in Spider-Man: Far From Home sequel
The Greatest Showman
One of Zendaya’s biggest film successes came with her role as trapeze artist Anne Wheeler in the hit musical The Greatest Showman released in 2017. Alongside stars Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron, Zendaya showcased both her acting and vocal talents more than ever before in the popular movie and soundtrack.
She performed songs for the film such as “Rewrite the Stars” with Zac Efron and “This Is Me” with Keala Settle which went on to become massive pop hits. “Rewrite the Stars” reached number one on the Billboard Pop Charts and was certified platinum.
The success of the songs and film cemented Zendaya’s triple threat talents in singing, acting and dancing among mainstream audiences more than any of her previous work to date at that point.
Euphoria and Modern Career
Following her massive successes in Spider-Man and The Greatest Showman films, Zendaya continued to take on more mature acting roles in movies, TV series, and as a producer.
In 2019 she began starring in the HBO drama series Euphoria in which she plays Rue Bennett, a teenage drug addict struggling with addiction and mental health problems. Her emotional performance received high praise from critics as she tackled more serious topics as an actress. The series became popular among younger viewers and was renewed for a second season after its strong initial reception. Zendaya made history that year, becoming the youngest person to ever win the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress for her role on Euphoria.
She has also continued working on musical projects the past few years. From 2019 to 2021 she released songs such as “All For Us”, “Still Learning”, and “I’m Tired” with Labrinth from the Euphoria soundtrack. As the 2020s progress, the singer, actress and dancer has cemented her status as an industry leader with continual evolution across entertainment genres.
Table 5. Modern Career Highlights
|Platinum hit song “Rewrite the Stars” with Zac Efron
|Begins starring role in Euphoria series
|Youngest actress to win Emmy for Lead Actress
|Releases singles from Euphoria soundtrack
Zendaya’s Personal Life
Zendaya has historically kept a very private personal life outside of her entertainment career in the public eye. However, in recent years there have been clues that she has been in a long-term relationship with Spider-Man costar Tom Holland.
While they have never officially confirmed their romance, paparazzi photos and internal industry sources have indicated they have been privately dating since as early as 2016 during filming of Spider-Man. They have been spotted vacationing together and attending events side-by-side frequently over the past several years.
Zendaya maintains a close bond with her family including parents Claire and Kazembe. She has credited her parents for helping instill a strong work ethic in her and supporting her early passions for dance and creative arts. Outside of acting and singing, in her spare time Zendaya enjoys hCopy
In just over a decade, Zendaya has impressively evolved from child model and backup dancer into one of the leading actresses, singers and overall entertainers of her generation. At only 26 years old as of 2023, she has regularly taken on new challenges with complex acting roles, musical evolution across albums, and leveraging her voice to advocate for important causes related to youth, education, justice and equality.
With such early fame and success already under her belt—including even making history as the youngest winner of a lead actress Emmy—Zendaya appears poised to continue using her talent and platform to make positive artistic contributions while inspiring her fanbase for decades to come. Her passion, work ethic, and versatility across entertainment mediums point to much more still on the horizon in Zendaya’s promising career ahead.
Frequently Asked Questions About Zendaya
What were some of Zendaya’s early dance and acting gigs?
Some of Zendaya’s earliest entertainment activities included modeling as a child for Macy’s, Mervyns, and Old Navy. She worked as a backup dancer for Selena Gomez and appeared in Kidz Bop videos before getting her big break on the Disney Channel.
How did Shake It Up launch Zendaya’s mainstream fame?
The Disney Channel sitcom Shake It Up featuring Zendaya as Rocky Blue opposite Bella Thorne catapulted her into fame as a teen entertainment star known for her acting, singing and dancing abilities. It ran from 2010-2013.
What were some of Zendaya’s hit songs?
As part of her music career evolution, some of Zendaya’s biggest hit songs have included “Replay” from her debut album, “Something New” featuring Chris Brown, and The Greatest Showman tracks “Rewrite the Stars” with Zac Efron and “This Is Me”.
Why was Euphoria a career-defining role for Zendaya?
Starring on the HBO drama series Euphoria challenged Zendaya to portray dark topics like addiction, mental illness, and complex trauma—a stark contrast to her Disney roots. Her emotional performance as Rue Bennett earned widespread acclaim and awards.
Who does Zendaya reportedly date?
While very private about her personal life, reports indicate Zendaya has likely been romantically linked to her Spider-Man co-star Tom Holland since around 2016 as they have been spotted vacationing and attending events together without officially confirming their relationship.