At only 25, Zendaya Coleman – primarily known by just her first name, Zendaya – has established herself as one of Hollywood’s brightest rising stars. From a humble Disney Channel start to major starring roles in some of the biggest blockbusters and drama series of the last decade, there are no signs of stopping for her as she continues to amaze audiences with her incredible range and talent. Going back to before her historic Emmy win or ‘Spider-Man’ casting or even her jump from TV to film, though, reveals an interesting story about the young star refusing a certain kissing scene, and the powerful reason behind that rejection.
Zendaya’s career has been all ups with almost no downs
Despite her meteoric rise over the last few years, Zendaya got her start like many young stars as an actor on a Disney series. From 2010 to 2013, she starred as Rocky Blue on Shake It Up. The show actually turned out to be one of the most-watched in the channel’s history, thanks in part to Zendaya herself.
Over the next few years, she’d continue working on various projects for the Disney Channel while also releasing music. 2017, however, was her big break, as it was the year she debut as the MCU’s version of MJ in Spider-Man: Homecoming, a role she’s reprised in both of its sequels. After that, she’d receive critical acclaim for her leading role as Rue in HBO’s Euphoria, being the show that made her the youngest Emmy winner in history.
When a kissing scene was written for her first show, she turned it down
During a late season 2 episode of Shake It Up, Rocky falls for a new character named Harrison, who happens to be the identical cousin to series regular Deuce (both played by Adam Irigoyen). At one point in the episode, she ends up kissing Deuce on the cheek thinking he’s Harrison, only for the truth to be revealed in hilarious fashion.
While nothing here seems too out of the ordinary so far, the scene as originally scripted called for the actors to kiss on the lips. Zendaya, though, didn’t feel comfortable doing this. She discussed why in a recent interview with Vogue, where she revealed that this on-screen kiss would have been her first on the show and in real life.
Looking back on this, she recalled her thought process as something like, “I’m going to kiss him on the cheek because I haven’t been kissed yet, so I don’t want the kiss to be on camera.” It was an understandable request, especially since she was only about 15 at the time that episode was filmed.
The industry had pressured her to do things like this before
This moment also stands as a great moment of self-advocacy for the young star. In another Vogue interview, Zendaya revealed that, as a teenager working in the industry, she’d often feel pressured to say yes to things she didn’t want to do. If she did and it didn’t end up feeling like the best thing for her, though, she remarked that it would “come back to haunt [her].”
These days, however, she’s in a much more agreeable position. Between her major star power and the extra confidence she’s developed since growing up, she doesn’t seem to find herself in these positions as much anymore. She’s even cultivated some strategies for managing the anxiety that comes with making major career decisions. “I’ve also learned to deal with that in the past few months by trying not to allow myself to worry or stress about the next move or what it is. Knowing that the right thing is going to come; and it’s going to happen at the right time.”
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