Zendaya on Keeping Her Relationship With Tom Holland Private: 'It's About Protecting the Peace'

The 'Challengers' star spoke with 'Elle' about living life in the public eye and working outside her comfort zone as she gets older.

Despite Zendaya and Tom Holland's fans declaring the couple as undeniable relationship goals, the duo has worked hard to keep their relationship largely out of the spotlight. So much so that they didn't confirm their relationship until months after they were spotted by paparazzi kissing at a red light in July 2021. 

In an interview for ELLE's September cover story, conducted before the SAG-AFTRA strike, Zendaya offers an intimate insight into her desire to keep her relationship with the Spider-Man star private, as she navigates her ever-evolving spotlight in the public eye.   

"Parts of my life, I accept, are going to be public," the 26-year-old tells the outlet. "I can't not be a person and live my life and love the person I love. But also, I do have control over what I choose to share. It's about protecting the peace and letting things be your own but also not being afraid to exist. You can't hide. That's not fun, either. I am navigating it more than ever now."

Although the Challengers actress has been in the public eye since she was a child model, there is no getting used to being photographed at all times, especially when you're in a less-than-ideal situation.

The Emmy winner recalls facing that exact issue during a shopping trip where she knew customers were taking photos of her while she was dealing with a card issue at the register. "I was just like, Why? You see I'm flustered," she remembers in good humor.

She also references another incident where she was photographed walking her dog, Noon, in Italy and hoping that the paparazzi didn't catch her picking up his poop.

"I had this idea of, like, I can walk around Venice. No, I can't. I had to pick up his poo, and I was like, 'Lord, please, don't take a picture of me picking up my dog's s**t.' There's a picture of me holding the bag, but thankfully they spared the grabbing and the putting it in the bag part."

Her beau shared similar sentiments when opening up to GQ about how he and Zendaya felt after pictures of them kissing in a car were leaked in July.

"One of the downsides of our fame is that privacy isn’t really in our control anymore, and a moment that you think is between two people that love each other very much is now a moment that is shared with the entire world," says Holland, who additionally revealed that he has a recurring nightmare in which he's paralyzed in his bed as paparazzi surround him.

He added, "I’ve always been really adamant to keep my private life private, because I share so much of my life with the world anyway," noting that he and the actress "sort of felt robbed of our privacy" when the pics of them kissing surfaced. 

Still, the stars have shown that their reluctance to share too much of their relationship won't prevent them from experiencing as much as they can together. They've been spotted on several globetrotting adventures in LondonMumbaiNew York City and Paris. They attended an NBA game together in San Francisco and displayed PDA while on a boat ride in Italy. Then, the A-list pair was captured in a fan video at Beyoncé's concert in Warsaw, Poland, passionately singing along with Queen Bey's hit song, "Love on Top." 

Last month, Holland was a guest on the Wondery podcast Smartless, telling hosts Jason BatemanWill Arnett and Sean Hayes that his shared experience in Hollywood with Zendaya is key to making their relationship work. 

"I'm lucky that I have someone like Zendaya in my life," Holland said. "It's interesting being in a romantic relationship with someone that is in the same boat as you."

The actor noted, "And that's worth its weight in gold."