Zendaya Talks Breaking Out of the 'World of Disney': 'I Felt Stagnant'

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Ethan Miller/Getty Images for CinemaCon

Zendaya is forging her own path as an actress, and that means leaving Disney’s sparkling sheen behind.

The 21-year-old up-and-comer recently sat down with Marie Claire to discuss the trajectory she’d like her career to take after spending years working on the Disney Channel’s Shake It Up alongside Bella Thorne. Largely, that means leaving everything she knows behind.

“It’s definitely been a process, especially because I’m coming from this very different world of Disney,” she said of her more recent roles. “Having been consistently on a television show, I felt stagnant. Not having that anymore, I am being seen as a real actress, doing what makes me feel pushed and motivated. I don’t necessarily think comfort is always the best place to live in. I’m kind of excited as I decide what projects I want to take on or if I want to produce. I’ve really found the power in just doing what makes me happy.”

Zendaya added that, since leaving the House of Mouse behind, she’s found different ways to reinvent herself as she attempts to grow as an actress.

“I wanted to create who I was as a person outside of my Disney character. Fashion helped with that. My stylist, Law Roach, and I created a world beyond what I was known as through clothes. Picking the right projects helped too. There was a lot of not getting the audition that I wanted and often going out for parts that weren’t written for a girl who looks like me and just saying, ‘Hey, see me anyway,’ until the right thing stuck.”

She also stated that, as a young African-American woman trying to build a lasting career in the industry, she feels as though she has far less latitude to screw up compared to white fellow actors.

“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,” she explained. “And I knew that from when I was real young. That’s just the truth, and so you’ll be kind of afraid of making mistakes because I love what I do. I don’t want to jeopardize it at any point because I am not allowed the room to mess up.”

Get more on Zendaya in the clip below.

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