Zendaya and Yara Shahidi are super close which is why no one was surprised when the Disney Channel actress shared some secrets with her about why she made it her personal mission to make sure a black family was portrayed on the network. Zendaya has said before that she laid down the law with Disney before K.C. Undercover started because she had ideas about what needed to happen for her to stay with the company. Now, she’s opening up even more and revealing what actually gave her the confidence to say how important it is to portray a black family on television.

Zendaya explained, “I didn’t feel like there was any other choice. I was like, ‘If I’m going to do this, this is how it has to be.’ There needs to be a black family on the Disney Channel. A lot of people who aren’t people of color can’t quite understand what it’s like to grow up and not see yourself in mainstream media. And you know, there is so much work left to be done. I’ve talked about this before, but can I honestly say I would be in the position I’m in if I weren’t a lighter-skinned black woman? No.”

We’ve seen Z speak her mind in the past, and she really used her voice in this interview to shed light on such an important issue in our world today. With K.C. Undercover and Yara’s show Black-ish and the upcoming spin-off Grown-ish, more diversity is being brought to living rooms across the country. These shows are steps in the right direction and knowing both Zendaya and Yara are taking their power in the TV world to make a change is truly amazing.

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Zendaya also lets us and Yara in on a few more things that went down during her Disney days, specifically her schooling. While she didn’t name names, she said that some of her peers would be enrolled in an online school and cheat their way through. But, that was not her style. She said, “…my mom had to write letters to Disney lawyers to say, ‘Listen, my daughter needs this teacher,’ because I’d finally found someone who would work with me when I had press tours. In the car. On the plane. On the train. In the hotel room. She’d be like, ‘Are you tired? I don’t care.'”

Obviously, Z prides herself not only on her work but also her education which is really incredible. Now that she has graduated from school and her Disney Channel era, Zendaya is focusing on more movie roles. Up next? A role alongside Zac Efron in the film titled, The Greatest Showman. But, even though Zendaya is super talented, smart and hardworking doesn’t mean it’s easy for her to be cast in new roles outside of Disney. She said, “There’s a lot I want to do in the movie world. Having a Disney past sometimes makes it difficult for people to take you seriously, so I have to pick the right projects, make sure I do the right things, take my time.”

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