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Zendaya’s journey from child star to protector of self

The actor thanks her on-set teacher for looking out for her
Zendaya (Photo credit: Bang Media)

Zendaya had to learn to “protect” herself as a child star.

The actress shot to fame in her early teens when she was cast alongside Bella Thorne in the Disney Channel sitcom “Shake It Up” before going on to a glamorous Hollywood career in later years. Zendaya admitted that she sometimes wishes she could have stayed as a normal kid for a “bit longer” as she recalled feeling very “vulnerable” at a young age.

“It’s a lesson you have to learn young. I was a kid thrown into a very adult industry where, if you do have a perspective or something to say, it’s like ‘Well they’re a kid’,” she said on the YouTube series “PayOrWait.” “And the parents … it’s like … they are just the parents, so you have to learn how to protect yourself quite quickly.”

“For me, it was a lesson learned quite early — back in my Disney days — of little tricks and little things I could do to protect myself or protect my peace or protect my happiness,” the “Euphoria” star said. “I think when you’re a kid in this industry, you’re very vulnerable. I do wish I could have just been a kid for a little bit longer but yeah, the lessons happened very early. I don’t know if there was a specific moment, but it definitely happened quite young, having to learn to have my own back a little bit.”

However, the Dune: Part Two star recalled having an on-set teacher during her time on Disney Chanel who she felt prioritized the child’s well-being above all else and claimed it may come as a “surprise” to learn that someone like that is fairly uncommon in the industry.

“I had a wonderful on-set teacher who was very adamant about safety, breaks, time and so … she’s like an aunt to me now,” Zendaya recalled. “Shoutout to Monique! She became my family, but she was someone who just advocated for the kid. She’d say, ‘They need to take a break’, or ‘That’s too dangerous, I don’t want them doing that’ or ‘They have school!'”

“You’d be surprised how that is not common practice in this industry,” she added.

Here’s a clip of Zendaya at the Spiderman premier in 2017.


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