Zendaya has been making waves lately by taking on more adult roles in projects like HBO’s Euphoria and the movie she made in quarantine with John David Washington Malcolm & Marie. As a child star on shows like Shake It Up, Zendaya has been portrayed as a kid and a teenager frequently, even going into adulthood. Though she is evolving her talents and reputation as an older actress, Zendaya started out as a dancer and actress on Disney, and she’s apparently not forgetting about her roots, as she recently said she still considers herself a Disney Kid.
Zendaya's break away from her child-star image shouldn’t come as a total surprise, and the actress has landed some pretty major roles such as the iconic MJ in Marvel’s Spider-Man movies – which Disney is behind – and Chani in the reboot of Dune. On Variety’s Actors on Actors @ Home, Zendaya spoke with Promising Young Woman star Carrie Mulligan, with both being strong women in Hollywood right now. When talking about the mature roles she is playing (and nailing), Mulligan joked that Zendaya surely can’t still consider herself a Disney Kid. To which Zendaya responded with:
The thing is, I am. And to a degree, I am grateful for that. That’s where I started, and I learned so much from that experience. It’s just kind of been this slow progression, and I am happy that it’s all been to prove it to myself and not to anybody else, you know? I embrace it a little bit. It’s part of my heritage to a degree.
The entertainer's journey from children’s show actor to bona fide movie star may be described as a gradual progression, but it was just three years ago when she was still starring in Disney series meant for younger viewers, i.e. K.C. Undercover. There was a little overlap with her role as MJ, as Spider-Man: Homecoming came out while she was still all over Disney Channel, and she is obviously still playing the role in the upcoming untitled third MCU Spider-Man movie. She still plays a teenager as MJ, but it's technically a more mature role than her Disney Channel characters, while still staying in the House of Mouse's overall wheelhouse.
Once a Disney Kid, always a Disney Kid. That would appear to be the way Zendaya sees it. She is far from the only Disney child star to break away from Disney’s fountain of teen youth, but she just may be the most recent Disney star making such an impact on Hollywood right now. She’s got four major credits to her name already this year that have either completed or are in the process of filming: the next Spider-Man movie, the next season of Euphoria, Dune, and Malcolm & Marie.
With such a heavy schedule, we can expect Zendaya won’t be slowing down any time soon. The actress just made history in being the youngest woman to win an Emmy when she won in 2020 for her role in Euphoria, and it would appear the actress is hungry to stretch her acting chops. You can stream Malcolm & Marie on Netflix on February 5th, and Euphoria's pre-Season 2 specials are available to stream on HBO Max.