Zendaya

Zendaya

AS A SINGER, DANCER, AND ACTOR, THE DISNEY PRODIGY HAS CAUGHT THE NATION'S ATTENTION. NOW SHE'S READY TO CALL THE SHOTS

AS A SINGER, DANCER, AND ACTOR, THE DISNEY PRODIGY HAS CAUGHT THE NATION'S ATTENTION. NOW SHE'S READY TO CALL THE SHOTS

Photography: Dario Catellani

Styling: Vittoria Cerciello

By the end of 2013, she’d already starred in a hit Disney Channel series (Shake It Up), placed second on Dancing With the Stars, and released her debut album—not bad for a girl who just turned 18 in September. But Zendaya is someone who’s already onto the next one when it comes to, well, everything. “I knew what I wanted from the beginning,” the multihyphenate says, “but now I really, really know what I want. I have a clearer vision.”

Following the breakout success of her debut single, “Replay,” a crisp electro-R&B cut that garnered comparisons to Cassie and Aaliyah (a foreshadowing), the Oakland, California–born performer wasted no time putting pressure on herself to record a follow-up: “I’m a perfectionist. It may take me a while, but it’s going to be good.”

When she’s not singing, dancing, or acting her way to stardom, the diva-in-training is turning heads with her sophisticated style. In February, Zendaya stole headlines at New York Fashion Week, sitting front row at Rebecca Minkoff and Betsey Johnson. Fashion bloggers weren’t the only ones impressed: the Queen of Pop herself cast Zendaya as the latest face of Material Girl, her collaboration with daughter Lourdes. “I’m just excited that Madonna knows who I am!” Zendaya exclaims.

A young star in a world consumed by social media, she’s regularly bombarded with feedback from fans and detractors alike, as was the case when it was announced that she was to play the role of Aaliyah in an upcoming Lifetime biopic, back in June. “...all I wanna do is honor her,” she tweeted after the announcement. But perhaps all too predictably, the backlash was fierce, as critics protested the decision to cast a newcomer and questioned her likeness to the late R&B icon. When Aaliyah’s family spoke out against the project (albeit for reasons unrelated to the casting), it didn’t help matters. Two weeks later, Zendaya dropped out.

“I went through a phase when the whole Aaliyah thing happened, and after, I just came to terms with it,” she says. “There are a lot of crazy people, and there’s a lot of ignorance in the world. You just can’t give it the time…there’s so much to be happy about.” For now, she’s busy shooting her new Disney series, called K.C. Undercover, in which she plays a math wiz training to be a spy—a far cry from the singing and dancing shtick on Shake It Up. “We made it almost a point that she’s not good at that kind of stuff,” she explains. And she’s not just the star of the show this time: she’s also a coproducer. While the new role means more responsibility for the talented teenager, she’s ready for the challenge. After all, age ain’t nothing but a number.

Credits: Makeup Darlene Jacobs using NARS (Starworks Artists)  Hair Pasquale Ferrante (ArtList)  Hair (Zendaya) Larry Sims (Exclusive Artists Management)   Manicure Whitney Gibson for CHANEL (Nailing Hollywood)  Digital technician Drew Schwartz (Pixel Dust Digital)  Photo assistants Paul Carter and Corey Whitted Stylist assistant Nicole Deutsch  Makeup assistant Megumi Asai  Hair assistant Joseph Torres  Production Amanda Jones (ArtList)  Retouching House Tribeca  Location 5th & Sunset Studios, Los Angeles

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