11 things you probably didn’t know about Zendaya

Zendaya is one of Hollywood’s biggest stars right now — and she’s only just turned 24. 

From her heartbreaking performance on the series “Euphoria” to her straight-faced dry humor in recent Marvel “Spider-Man” films, fans can’t seem to get enough of the former Disney Channel star.

Whether you’re a day-one fan or a recent convert thanks to her recent work, here are some things you may not know about Zendaya:

Zendaya’s name is part Shona and part parental invention

Zendaya has said her full name, Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman, has deep connections to her German and African heritage.

According to the actress, her first name was inspired by a word in the Shona language that means “to give thanks” but her parents added a unique twist to it.

“My dad had a thing for Z’s and zen, so he helped name me Zendaya,” she told Popstar! magazine in 2011. 

Before becoming a Disney Channel star, she was a backup dancer for Selena Gomez in a Sears commercial

Before landing roles in Disney original movies, 12-year-old Zendaya appeared in a Sears commercial with Selena Gomez and a few other kids who would also go on to become Disney stars. 

“That’s a funny commercial because it’s so weird to think [about] later on,” she told J-14 magazine in 2013. “Ross [Lynch] was in it, Leo Howard was in it — and we were backup dancers, we weren’t even the lead kids … it’s funny where things evolved from and it’s cool to start small.”

Zendaya is able to bite ice cream with her front teeth without it bothering her

Zendaya’s teeth apparently aren’t that sensitive to cold. 

Zendaya has been vocal about her love of ice cream (specifically the coffee flavor from Häagen-Dazs), but she eats it a little differently than the rest of us.

As she demonstrated in a 2018 “Secret Talent Theatre” segment with Vanity Fair, Zendaya’s teeth are not sensitive to cold, which allows her to bite directly into ice cream with her incisors.

She loves ‘Harry Potter’ and watches the movies ‘once a day’ 

In 2019, when asked to define what “self-care” means to her, Zendaya told InStyle that she finds it hard to sit and meditate, so instead she rewatches the “Harry Potter” films.

“People say I’m crazy, but I watch ‘Harry Potter,’ like, once a day,” she revealed. “It’s just calming to me, so that’s my thing. People are like, ‘Oh my god, ‘Harry Potter’ again?’ I say, ‘Don’t come over to my house if you don’t want to watch it, because it’s going to be on.'”

Zendaya has oftentimes named fellow dancer and actor Channing Tatum as one of her celebrity crushes

In a 2015 interview with Essence, Zendaya rattled off a few of her celebrity crushes. The list included actors like Morris Chestnut, Michael B. Jordan, and Idris Elba, as well as NFL quarterback Cam Newton.

But there is one name that she has consistently given as her main celebrity crush: Channing Tatum.

In response to a fan question on HuffPost Live a year prior, Zendaya said, “One of my [favorite stars] is Channing Tatum, but the list goes on for forever and ever. He can dance and I think that’s really cool. I love people who can have multiple talents.”

Zendaya also got to work with Tatum for one day on the film “Smallfoot” and said in 2018 that it was “wonderful to have Channing there and bouncing off each other’s energies.”

Her mother said that when Zendaya was younger she had to repeat kindergarten because she was so shy

Zendaya’s bubbly personality shines through in her social-media posts, interviews, and in her non-“Euphoria” performances, but the former Disney star was apparently not always so great at engaging with others.

“[When she was younger,] she would sit in the circle with the other kids and be totally silent,” her mother, Claire Stoermer, told Vogue in 2017.

Stoermer said Zendaya ultimately repeated kindergarten so that she could socially catch up to her peers.

She was born with one less tooth on the bottom of her mouth

The growing and subsequent removal of wisdom teeth is not pleasant, but fortunately for Zendaya, she was born with a partial free pass.

“I went to the dentist and I found out I was born with one less tooth on the bottom row,” she told Variety in 2017. “So I don’t have to get my wisdom teeth taken out on the bottom because I have enough space.”

If she hadn’t become an actor, Zendaya said she would be a teacher

Both of Zendaya’s parents, Claire Stoermer and Kazembe Ajamu Coleman, are teachers, so she was introduced to the profession at a young age.

Her mother has been honored as a local hero in Oakland, California, for her work bringing Shakespeare and the arts to students. Her father worked at her grade school as a PE teacher, so she also got to see him in action. 

“It instilled within me a true appreciation of and devotion to the importance of education,” Zendaya told Teen Vogue in 2016. “If I wasn’t in entertainment, I’d be a teacher in a heartbeat — guaranteed!”

One of her past red-carpet looks inspired a Barbie doll

In 2015, Mattel honored Zendaya with a limited-edition Barbie modeled after her Academy-Awards style from earlier that year.

The brand captured every detail, including her makeup, off-the-shoulder dress, earrings, and her long, beaded dreadlocks.

“When I was little I couldn’t find a Barbie that looked like me, my… how times have changed,” the young star wrote in an Instagram caption. “Thank you @barbie for this honor and for allowing me to be apart of your diversification and expansion of the definition of beauty. Can’t wait to keep doing amazing things with you.”

She played a major role in shaping the content on Disney Channel’s ‘K.C. Undercover’

zendaya kc undercover
Zendaya was the star of the Disney show “K.C. Undercover.” 

After the success of “Shake It Up,” Zendaya had the power as a producer to tell Disney no when it came to elements of the new series that she wasn’t on board with.

In a 2017 interview with Vogue, she revealed that she was not a fan of “Super Awesome Katy,” which was the original name of the show. “I was like, ‘The title is whack. That’s gonna change,” Zendaya told the publication. “Do I look like a Katy to you?”

In addition to getting the show’s title and lead character’s name changed, Zendaya said she pushed the executives to include a family of color and to have her character be smart, trained in martial arts, socially awkward, and not good at singing or dancing.

“There are other things that a girl can be,” she told the publication.

She said her first date was to see a ‘Spider-Man’ movie

Zendaya officially joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2017 as Michelle Jones in “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” but even before that, she had a history with the friendly neighborhood spider.

In a 2017 interview with “Good Morning America,” she revealed that her very first date was to see the hero on the big screen.

“I was obsessed with it immediately … I’ve always kind of related to Spider-Man. I think a lot of people do because he’s a real person. He’s not just the superhero all the time. He is, at the end of the day, Peter Parker, who is a 15-year-old kid, which we all can relate to,” she told the interviewer. 

By Andrew LaSane

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