On Tuesday, Glamour’s editor in chief Cindi Leive hosted a lunch at Au Fudge to honor Zendaya’s work with the United Nations HIV and AIDS advocacy program UNAIDS. Before guests settled down to eat, the 19-year-old singer-dancer-actress sat down with WWD:
WWD: What does it mean to you to be singled out as a Glamour Game Changer?
Zendaya: I’m all about positivity and this is a girl power kind of room right here. Glamour really focused on the things that I’m passionate about, charity and philanthropic work. That’s the stuff that I want to be known for and it’s the stuff that I care about. The acting and dancing and singing is just icing on the cake.
WWD: What do you appreciate about the work UNAIDS is doing and who instilled that love of philanthropy within you?
Zendaya: Both of my parents are educators. Seeing the things that they deal with and go through and how much of their time and their energy they give up to young people, that’s what makes me so inspired because we’re the future, we’re the next wave.
WWD: Disney’s “Shake It Up” was your big break and you currently star on the network’s family comedy “K.C. Undercover,” but it was also recently announced that you’ll be appearing in the new reboot “Spider-Man: Homecoming” with Tom Holland and Marisa Tomei out next year. What can you tease?
Zendaya: Nothing. All I can say is that I’m in it.
WWD: What does it mean to you to join such a beloved franchise?
Zendaya: It’s awesome. Nobody really knew who I was or cared who I was, so I had to do it like everybody else from the beginning. You do all the meetings and all the work — and that’s what speaks for itself. It gives me a chance to really prove myself in that space.
WWD: You released your self-titled debut album three years ago. Any new music in the works?
Zendaya: Of course. Music is so important to me. In fact, it’s so important that I’m quiet about it. I’m just working on it. I just want [my next album] to be perfect.
WWD: What is your ultimate goal careerwise?
Zendaya: You know Oprah?! Yeah. That’s it. If Oprah, Beyoncé and Shonda Rhimes had a baby, that’s who I want to be.
WWD: Have you met Oprah? Has she given you any advice?
Zendaya: Actually I have met Oprah and I almost cried. I don’t cry about anything, but when I met Oprah, I was literally getting choked up. Everyone feels like they know her. I felt like she was like my auntie or something. It’s one of those things where she’s a trusted brand. If Oprah says, ‘This is the best tea,’ you know that’s the best tea. Hands down. Done. Oprah said so.
WWD: Cover Girl named you a brand ambassador in January. Anything on the horizon in terms of fashion?
Zendaya: Fashion allows me to have fun. It allows me to be creative. It’s allowed me to have more confidence. When you look at fashion, some people see it as a very materialistic thing, but to me it’s become a way to not be afraid of being myself and to care more about my opinion than anyone else’s. That’s why I go out and wear whatever I want because I’m really not concerned with the opinions of other people. It’s very empowering.