Zendaya Opens Up to Janet Mock About Breaking Racial Barriers in Hollywood in 'Marie Claire' Cover Story
"I always tell my theatrical manager, 'Anytime it says they’re looking for white girls, send me out. Let me get in the room. Maybe they’ll change their minds.'"
Zendaya opened up to Janet Mock for an enlightening interview in Marie Claire's September issue, released online Monday (Aug. 6). The former Disney star got candid about her role as one of too few high-profile black actresses in Hollywood, and how she refuses to let casting boundaries hold her back.
"What my white peers would be able to get away with at this point in their career is not something that I will be able to do," the Spider-Man: Homecoming star told Mock.
Having grown up under the spotlight since being cast in Shake It Up at age 14, it comes as a surprise to some that Zendaya, now 21, has managed to avoid the rebellious post-Disney phase. Although she feels a duty to be a role model for the young women who look up to her, she realizes, "I can’t allow myself to be scared of not always doing the right thing. I will make mistakes in my career, but I can try my best to make the best decisions that I can and learn from my mistakes."
The Oakland-born singer revealed that she wants to make change in the industry by pursuing roles that weren't written for black actors. "For example, Spider-Man definitely wasn’t originally written that way." She recalled hoping the casting directors would -- as they say in the industry -- "go ethnic."
"I remember making the decision to straighten my hair. I didn’t know that they were going to be more diverse in their casting."
Refusing to miss opportunities on the basis of race, "I always tell my theatrical manager, 'Anytime it says they’re looking for white girls, send me out. Let me get in the room. Maybe they’ll change their minds.'"
The September issue of Marie Claire hits newsstands August 21.