Zendaya Says She’s A Tupac, Not A Miley

Photo: Matt Baron/REX Shutterstock.
Zendaya is our idol in so many ways. The model, singer, and actress made headlines for all the right reasons this year. She stood up for herself when Giuliana Rancic made an insulting comment about her dreads. She had a Barbie made in her likeness. She called out a magazine for its egregious retouching on photos of herself. And she gave the best advice for any girl called "ugly." But make no mistake: Zendaya does not consider herself a role model. In a new interview with Complex, which features the 19-year-old on the cover of its "Women Of Next Year" issue, Zendaya rebuffed the label when asked if she thinks about being a role model. "I think it’s a responsibility, but like Tupac Shakur, I’m a real model," she explained. "Which means: I’m not pretending to be something that I’m not, because like he said, people are going to be disappointed when they find out who you are, because it’s not going to be what you presented to the world."
Zendaya also extends that refreshing ethos to some of her fellow Disney channel alumni, who have changed their images considerably since leaving their shows, like Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez. When asked what she thought about Cyrus, she differentiated herself from the pop star, while also defending her.

"I think again it’s that real model, role model thing. A lot of [former Disney stars] were forced into being role models and they had to pretend to be something that they didn’t feel matched up with who they were. And that’s because they started really, really young. So you’ve got to realize when you’re really young you don’t know who you are yet. And as soon as you figure it out, you’ve already been forced to become something that you didn’t really know you signed up for. So it’s like, I get it. There’s a lot of pressure, so I completely understand. Everyone has their different ways of learning and growing and finding out who they are, and you can’t fault people for that. Again, I think with all the prior Disney stars, at least you can say they are themselves now."
Well said, Zendaya. (We have no doubt Cyrus has zero qualms about showing the world her real self.) It's easy to forget, though, that the red carpet fashionista is still only 19. Is there a "Miley moment" in her future? It doesn't look like it. "No. That’s why I said, in order to avoid those problems just be yourself from the beginning and be honest with the world, because that’s the only thing you can do. There will be no surprises." The starlet is smart and realistic enough to give herself a little bit of leeway, though. "I’m not suddenly going to be like woo, crazy," she said. And if I do, then hey. But I highly, highly doubt it." Either way, you'll always be our real model, Zendaya.

More from News

R29 Original Series