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Pop Culture 
Raquel Gottlieb

Everyone has role models; they are the ones people look up to and maybe even stalk on social media. Role models can be revered for their intelligence, outspokenness, or education. Zendaya is the perfect example of this type of role model. Rising from a Disney Channel Star to a big time movie star, she has become an important figure in today’s world. At just 24 years old, Zendaya has been very successful, with career endeavors ranging from writing a book to raising awareness about social justice. 

Born Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman, Zendaya jump-started her career from Disney’s TV show, Shake it Up. When the show ended, Zendaya not only starred in a new show, K.C Undercover, but she also helped produce it at just 18 years old. The show was centered around a Black family and had a strong female character lead. When talking about the show’s main character, played by her, Zendaya said, “I think I’ve successfully made a show that not only allows for representation but sees girls in a powerful and strong position.” Zendaya explained that it was important to have a Black family being represented in television, since there weren't many when she was growing up. The show dealt with prevalent social issues such as racism and inequality. From there, Zendaya went on to star in major films, such as the Marvel Spider-Man movies and the Greatest Showman. In 2019, Zendaya was cast in a series, Euphoria, as the main character, Rue, who struggles with a drug addiction and bipolar disorder along with everyday high school and teenager struggles. Amazingly, Zendaya recently became the youngest female ever to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role in Euphoria. 

Zendaya is as amazing offscreen as she is on screen. In addition to having her own clothing line with Tommy Hilfiger and being a spokesperson for Lancome and Covergirl, Zendaya also wrote her own book. Published in 2013, her book, “Between U and Me: How to Rock Your Tween Years with Style and Confidence,” shares Zendaya’s thoughts and advice on living your life to the fullest. Zendaya uses her social media platforms for good by speaking out on social justice issues such as racism, sexism, and body positivity. For example, in 2015, when Zendaya wore dreadlocks to the Oscars, she received a negative comment, saying her hair must have smelled of “weed.” As a response to this, Zendaya maturely posted to Instagram, saying that this comment was “not only a large stereotype but outrageously offensive.” She even mentioned prominent successful Black women who also wore locks to show the baselessness of the prejudice against dreads.

Zendaya is a perfect role model for this time. She’s relatable and successful, and she stands up for what she believes in and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Having Zendaya as a role model doesn’t mean one wants to have her life; instead, it means people will strive to have her positive qualities, which include her intelligence, outspokenness, and confidence.  


Bate, Ellie. “23 Times Zendaya Was The Best Damn Role Model There Is.”  BuzzFeed,  11August 2017.

Baty, Emma. “OMG, Zendaya Just Won Her Very First Emmy for 'Euphoria.'” Cosmopolitan, 21 September 2020. 

Steiner, Amanda Michelle. “Giuliana Rancic Clarifies Apology to Zendaya After Oscar Night Comments About Her Dreadlocks.” People Magazine, 24 February 2015.

Zendaya: The Perfect Role Model: Academics
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