Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman was born September 1, 1996 and is an American actress and singer.
She was born in Oakland, California, the only child of Claire Marie (Stoermer) and Kazembe Ajamu (born Samuel David Coleman). She has five older half-siblings on her father’s side. Her father is African-American, with roots in Arkansas, while her mother has German and Scottish ancestry.
Zendaya, whose name derives from the Shona name Tendai, meaning “to give thanks,” grew as a performer in part at the nearby California Shakespeare Theater in Orinda, California where her mother works as the house manager, in addition to training at the theater’s student conservatory program. She appeared in numerous stage productions while she was attending Oakland School for the Arts.
Zendaya spent three years dancing in a dance group called Future Shock Oakland. The group did hip-hop and hula dances when she was eight. She studied at the CalShakes Conservatory Program and at the American Conservatory Theater.
Her other stage credits include William Shakespeare’s Richard III, Twelfth Night, and As You Like It.
She began her career appearing as a child model and backup dancer, before gaining prominence for her role as Rocky Blue on the Disney Channel sitcom Shake It Up (2010–2013). In 2013, Zendaya was a contestant on the sixteenth season of the competition series Dancing with the Stars. From 2015 to 2018, she produced and starred as K.C. Cooper on the Disney Channel sitcom K.C. Undercover. She made her film breakthrough in 2017, starring as Michelle “MJ” Jones in the superhero films Spider-Man: Homecoming and as Anne Wheeler in the musical drama film The Greatest Showman. In 2019, she starred as the lead character on the HBO drama series Euphoria and reprised her role as MJ in the film Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Zendaya will portray Chani in the upcoming science fiction film Dune, an adaptation of the 1965 novel of the same name.
She will also star in Malcom & Marie, which was filmed in secret during the COVID-19 pandemic. It co-stars John David Washington, and was directed by Sam Levinson, with whom she had collaborated on Euphoria.
Zendaya will produce and star in A White Lie, as Anita Hemmings, a light-skinned, African-American woman who was the descendant of slaves and passed as white so she could attend Vassar College during the 1890s.
She is also set to appear alongside Ansel Elgort and Jake Gyllenhaal in the crime thriller film Finest Kind.
In 2012, Zendaya became an ambassador for Convoy of Hope. She recorded John Legend’s 2013 song “All of Me” with a portion of the proceeds going to the organization. She celebrated her 18th birthday with a campaign to help feed at least 150 hungry children in Haiti, Tanzania and the Philippines through feedONE, and in 2016 she celebrated her 20th birthday with a campaign to raise $50,000 to support Convoy’s Women’s Empowerment Initiative.