“The thing is, I am [a Disney kid]. And to a degree, I am grateful for that,” she said during a January 2021 interview with Variety. “That’s where I started, and I learned so much from that experience.”
The California native got her start on Disney Channel as Rocky from Shake it Up. After three seasons, she said goodbye to the network before returning when a particularly special opportunity came along called K.C. Undercover.
“When I left Disney, there weren’t any families of color on the channel … I thought that was a big reason why I wanted to come back,” she told Variety in August 2017. “I think I’ve successfully made a show that not only allows for representation but sees girls in a powerful and strong position.”
After she finally moved on, Zendaya nabbed a starring role in the edgy Euphoria, which ultimately won her an Emmy Award. She’s also starred in some pretty major movie franchises over the years.
“I’m just figuring it out as I go, trying to do the best I can,” Zendaya said about her career during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in June 2021. “And when it came to Euphoria, I just wanted to make sure that my fans knew, even the ones who were my age or older than me, that I still felt their support even if they felt that the material was too triggering for them or if they didn’t feel ready or comfortable watching.”
As she transitioned out of her Disney days and more adult roles, the actress explained to Vogue Australia that she knew the role as Rue in Euphoria felt “right.”
“When it clicks and when it feels right, it’s right. [It’s about] trusting those instincts,” she shared in February 2020. “There’s no real blueprint at the end of the day for any of this s–t. As people, we don’t know what we’re doing. It’s not like I can say: ‘This is the kind of career I want to have, so I’m going to do what this person did.’ I didn’t really have a map to know what the right thing was. The only kind of guide I had was my instincts and gut. So I’ve just been trying to follow that, and I think that has served me very well.”
No matter where her career takes her, Zendaya always remembers where she got her start. Scroll through our gallery to read Zendaya’s most powerful quotes about her Disney Channel days.
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