Over the last year, our own Contributing Writer Tia Shah, has been writing an amazing column about trailblazing girls throughout history. This new Incredible Girls column is in that vein, only this column is about contemporary girls under the age of 25 who are doing awe-inspiring and significant things in the world. Every Friday in 2019, we are going to post a column detailing the life of an Incredible Girl and why you should know about her. Read on for a glimpse into the life of Zendaya.

Photo Credit: Zendaya’s Twitter – https://twitter.com/Zendaya/status/1083559165992128513

22-year-old Zendaya is an actress, a singer and all around awesome person. She began her career as a child model and dancer before getting her big break in the 2010 Disney Channel show, Shake It Up. She then produced and starred in Disney Channel’s K.C. Undercover from 2015-2018. She has starred in Hollywood hits like Spider-Man: Homecoming and The Greatest Showman, and has several upcoming projects, including taking on the role of Anita Hemmings in the film, A White Lie. The film is about a light-skinned African American woman and the descendant of slaves who passes as white so she can attend Vassar in the 1890s.

In a 2018 interview with Buzzfeed during press for an animated movie, Smallfoot, that she was in, Zendaya had some on point things to say about young people speaking up about issues that matter to them, most importantly (in my opinion) to follow your heart.

“I think as long as you’re leading with love and with the right intentions, that’s the best way to do it,” she said. “Never be afraid to have a voice and to know the power of it. I say that often, and it’s often easier said than done. It’s easy to say, “Speak up and everything will be fine!” Because it’s hard sometimes. But I would say you do have a voice, and it is important, and you should use it.”

I love these interviews she did with Yara Shahidi and Janet Mock, respectively. I think they both do a great job of explaining what Zendaya is all about, why she is the way that she is, and how she has helped to rewrite the Hollywood narrative to make space for girls like her. Specifically, I love what she said in her interview with Janet Mock about the responsibility of her platform.

“I’m very aware that I don’t know everything, but I do try my best with the platform that I have, knowing how many people look to me,” she said. “I try my best to inform myself and live my best life so that I can inspire my fans to live their best lives, be more educated, and learn for themselves. And I try to do it in a way that’s not telling people what to think but opening up their eyes to possibilities, ideas maybe they never thought about.” Say it louder with me for all the people in the back — representation matters!!!

Zendaya is a great role model for girls, and deserving of being in the Incredible Girls column. She has consistently made representation and empowerment a cornerstone of her career, and I think that is pretty cool to see.

-Sage Daugherty
Associate Editor
Girl Museum Inc.

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