Words by Megan Ambers
ABC’s Black-ish Yara Shahidi sat down with good friend singer/actress Zendaya Coleman for her November Glamour magazine interview. The issue is reported to be entirely produced by female contributors. The cover, graced by Zendaya, shows the actress wearing a “Women, Love, Power” tee by Stella McCartney, with the words “This issue is powered by women” underneath. Zendaya spoke on many subjects including, seeing herself as the love child of Oprah, Shonda Rhimes, and Beyoncé, lack of diversity on Disney and more.
Zendaya spoke on the recent realization of her influence as her social media following has continue to grow. The Spider-Man: Homecoming actress- who has 10 million followers on Twitter- stated:
I can genuinely say that I’m not the same person I was a year ago. As my social platforms grew, I realized that my voice was so much more important than I had originally thought. I think if every young person understood the power of their voice, things would be a lot different. And it’s becoming more popular to be outspoken.
Zendaya has stated that she realizes that being a lighter skin bi-racial black woman has worked in her benefit, however seeing the lack of diversity on Disney affected her as well.
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.
Yara, also a black woman of multi-racial descent, chimed in on wanting to open the doors for all black girls in the business. “I’m half black, half Iranian, and I’ve never seen a half-black, half-Iranian description of a character in a script ever. There’s more to do.” Yara and Zendaya shared stories of meeting strong women of color in power, including Representative Maxine Waters.
Zendaya shared that she has a list of many women who inspires her, especially those who uses their platform for the greater good. “If people know your name, they should know it for a reason. I’m obviously inspired by my mother,and I have an obsession with Oprah.” Zendaya said. “She’s someone who, even with everything stacked against her,has soared to unbelievable heights. If she wants to create a network, she can do it. She wants to produce a movie? She can do it.”
The actress also shared why she finds director Shonda Rhimes and Beyonce so inspiring.
Shonda—she saw something nobody else was doing and said, “I’m going to create it myself. I’m going to put strong, powerful women of color in lead roles and create narratives for different types of people. And then, Beyoncé. She took it to the next level with Lemonade. She’s got twins, and she’s banging. She’s killing it.
She also spoke about her future plans to create and produce shows and movies. “You know when you watch a show and you’re like, “That’sso good. I wish I’d made it?” Why not? Why not make it? Wild idea, I know.“