We can’t think of a better pick for Complex Magazine‘s “Woman of Next Year” than Zendaya Coleman. While most Disney stars succumb to tabloid drama, Zendaya remains above the fray. She handles social media critics with wisdom and grace, she speaks thoughtfully about issues affecting race, gender and class, and she’s a triple threat talent to boot. Though it’s tempting to call her a role model, Zendaya doesn’t enjoy the term or the undue pressure that accompanies it. She prefers the Tupac-coined phrase “real model,” which speaks to inspiring others by simply being yourself. Her interview with Complex Magazine finds her doing just that. The shoe designer is playful yet wise beyond her years as she navigates difficult questions about race, self-esteem and the pitfalls of being a child star.
Check out excerpts from her interview below:
On forging an identity as a biracial teen:
“You get the best and the worst of both worlds. 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.”
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