Zendaya on Growing Up Too Fast as a Child Star: "I Wish I Went to School"

Z became famous at age 14.

Zendaya on the Challengers Paris premiere red carpet in a white custom Louis Vuitton gown
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Zendaya has been a successful actress since—at age 14—she landed her first TV role on Disney Channel's Shake It Up! as Rocky Blue.

While this has been amazing for her in many ways, and she has gone on to star in unforgettable films, it's also been a difficult way to grow up, she admitted in a new conversation with Serena Williams for Vogue.

Williams asked the actress, "What was the other option for you? What were your goals growing up?" and Z's answer was basically that there was no other option.

"Hmm. It’s funny, because it’s something that I’m figuring out now," she explained.

"I don’t know how much of a choice I had. I have complicated feelings about kids and fame and being in the public eye, or being a child actor. We’ve seen a lot of cases of it being detrimental.…"


Zendaya got her break on Disney Channel's Shake It Up! alongside Bella Thorne.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

She continued, "And I think only now, as an adult, am I starting to go, Oh, OK, wait a minute: I’ve only ever done what I’ve known, and this is all I’ve known.

"I’m almost going through my angsty teenager phase now, because I didn’t really have the time to do it before. I felt like I was thrust into a very adult position: I was becoming the breadwinner of my family very early, and there was a lot of role-​reversal happening, and just kind of becoming grown, really."

Zendaya added that she's often not able to enjoy the biggest milestones in her career because she's trying so hard to "live up to all these expectations."

She said, "I’m very tense, and I think that I carry that from being a kid and never really having an opportunity to just try shit. And I wish I went to school."

Right now, Zendaya is on the promo trail for her new film Challengers, directed by Call Me By Your Name filmmaker Luca Guadagnino, and out April 26.

Morning Editor

Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based journalist, editor and author. She is the morning editor at Marie Claire, and her work has appeared in the likes of British Vogue, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29 and SELF. Iris writes about everything from celebrity news and relationship advice to the pitfalls of diet culture and the joys of exercise. She has many opinions on Harry Styles, and can typically be found eating her body weight in cheap chocolate.