Zendaya is an actress as much known for her activism as her presence on-screen, and it turns out she has significant experience merging the two.
In July’s upcoming issue of Vogue, the actress opens up about her Disney show, K.C. Undercover, explaining that she refused to sign on until the TV execs agreed to her list of demands.
Of course, knowing Zendaya, these weren’t the sorts of demands I would 100 percent make if given the opportunity (Stock my trailer with sour straws at all times. Play the same four episodes of Parks & Rec on loop. Where are the kittens I asked for?) No, Zendaya’s asks were all in relation to her character and the show’s messaging as a whole.
She wanted her character to be authentic and complex. She wanted to be a producer on the show at just 16 years old (casual.) And she wanted her character to refrain from busting into song-and-dance numbers at all times.
“I wanted to make sure that she wasn’t good at singing or acting or dancing,” she said. “That she wasn’t artistically inclined. I didn’t want them to all of a sudden be like, ‘Oh, yeah, and then she sings this episode!’ No. She can’t dance; she can’t sing. She can’t do that stuff. There are other things that a girl can be.”
That’s not all. Zendaya also wanted K.C. to be “martial-arts trained,” and to be “able to do everything that a guy can do.”
“I want her to be just as smart as everybody else. I want her to be a brainiac. I want her to be able to think on her feet. But I also want her to be socially awkward, not a cool kid. I want her to be normal with an extraordinary life.”
*discretely rubs away goosebumps*
She also shut down the proposed title, “Super Awesome Katy,” (thank God), demanding: “Do I look like a Katy to you?”
She wanted a family of color to be represented on the show, and as viewers know, she got her wish — for not just this ask, but for all of them.
“A lot of people don’t realize their power,” she explains. “I have so many friends who say yes to everything or feel like they can’t stand up for themselves in a situation. No: You have the power.”
May we all learn from her.