Zendaya Coleman’s star is steadily rising, and Complex magazine has hitched a ride on the Z-train for its December/January issue, which highlights the men and women who’ll be doing big things in 2016, and the publication wants you to take note.
Staff writer Kristen Yoonsoo Kim visited Zendaya’s family home in Los Angeles, where they chopped it up about everything from her upcoming new music to her checking troll on social media, and they touch on her unabashed opinion about cultural appropriation. She also explains why she walked away from Lifetime’s Aaliyah biopic, saying:
“I just didn’t like the way things were going down. There were a lot of things that came to my attention that I didn’t know about, about the family and production value. You just assume that things are taken care of when you step onto a project. But when you realize that things are just falling apart, you’re like, “This is not what I signed up for, this is not what I thought it was. This is not what I think is worthy of her movie.” It really ate me up inside. A lot of people thought that I knew that the family wasn’t involved, and I didn’t. I just auditioned like anyone else and got the job.”
Lifetime’s biopic “Aaliyah: Princess of R&B,” received a hail storm of criticism when it was announced that biracial Zendaya was cast to play the late songstress. Many fans were not pleased that an authentic black actress wasn’t cast, (authentic = both parents are black). Fans were also not all that accepting of Zendaya’s replacement, biracial actress Alexandra Shipp.
Zendaya, whose mother is white and father is black, explained to Complex what life in Southern California was like for her growing up biracial and trying to find her identity.
“You get the best and the worst of both worlds,” she said. “I know there were a lot of times when you try to figure out where you fit in. I just realized that it worked to my advantage because I just got along with a lot of people. But to literally be two races, it’s really hard to see color because I’m the gray area. I had to learn about both sides of myself and be really proud of and educated in both. I think that’s why I’m comfortable with myself and can speak on certain issues because I’ve taken the time, or my parents have taken the time, to teach me who I am.”
Coleman is featured on Ebony magazine’s Black Power cover – which many have turned their nose up to because light-skinned/biracials are prominently displayed on the cover, while anyone darker than a paper bag is tucked away inside the issue.
When she’s not schooling cyber bullies, Coleman busies herself staying socially aware and donating to several charities. She shared with Complex her enriching charity work experience in Africa.
“Being a young African-American woman, it’s important to know where you come from. And I think there’s a big disconnect with realizing that we’re from Africa and knowing what’s actually happening there and having a connection. I’ve always had that because my father took the steps to be in touch with his roots and where he comes from. He took a DNA test and reclaimed his African name. I have an African name and a French middle name. I have two parents who are very proud of where they’re from. My mom and my grandma do tons of research on where we’re from: Scotland and Germany. I think it’s important that I help other young people gain at least the interest of knowing where they’re from.”
(Photo Source: PR Photos, Lifetime Instagram)