Zendaya Coleman, known best simply as Zendaya, became a burgeoning cultural superstar this year, from her role on Disney’s K.C. Undercover to having a Barbie doll created in her honor. Beyond her career in the entertainment world, the 19 year old has also made waves by never shying away from speaking her mind: She skewered Giuliana Rancic’s racist comments about her dreadlocks on the Oscar red carpet and criticized a magazine for excessively touching up photos of her. Next year is looking to be just as promising for Zendaya as she prepares the release of her sophomore album, and as 2015 winds down, she spoke with Rolling Stone about what she loved this year.
Favorite Music “This is the hardest question to answer [laughs]! I think the hard thing for me when it comes to music is I listen to a lot of old music all year round. But Ty Dolla $ign just came out with an a few weeks ago, and I think it was great.”
Older Music She’s Gone Back to This Year “I have listened to a lot of Usher and a lot of old R&B, like Brian McKnight. I feel like I can listen to that stuff all year ’round. ‘Bad Girls’ by Usher was literally my anthem for this year, for some reason. That became my jam.”
Favorite TV Shows “I mean, Scandal. That’s a no-brainer. I’m just waiting for more episodes to come because I think this is a mid-season break or something, and I’m dying.”
Favorite Cultural Moments “I just thought it was really cool to see young people stand up and be heard. I think with everything that has happened in the media in general, it was cool to see young people — like Rowan Blanchard [from Disney Channel’s Girl Meets World] who is such a smart young lady — just kind of not being afraid to talk about things and it shows how educated they are. You don’t have to be any age to be educated and understand the world and create a community and try and open up conversations. That kind of stuff is very cool to me.”
Personal Favorite Moment “I would just say in general it’s just been a great year because I’ve been able to work on not only my career, but I’ve just been able to work on the human being I want to be and get to know myself. When you get to the age of 18, 19, you’re becoming an adult, and you learn a lot about yourself. I’d just say it’s been a good year in general. I’ve been able to travel a lot. Going to Africa was definitely a highlight for the year for me. I learned a lot about where I’m from and I thought that was beautiful. I got to hang out with the Mandelas, which is something a lot of people don’t get to say, and I got to do it for a good cause. I was very, very proud to be on that trip.”
Hopes for 2016 “I hope more young people become socially aware, especially with the election coming up. I’m glad that I’m an 18 year old now, and it’s my chance to vote. I hope people my age and young people in general really don’t take that lightly because we have a say in our futures, especially when it comes to where we live and the world in general. I hope people takes it upon themselves, even if it’s boring to them, to watch a debate or go online and do some research. Find a cool site that lets you know what’s going on or watch the news every now and then.”