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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Zendaya said it best herself: “I like to think of myself as a REAL model, not a ROLE model.”

I’ve always looked up to various celebrities at every stage in my life — trying to copy their styles, follow their stories, and just stay up to date with their lives. It started in my classic tween period with good old Disney Channel stars, then progressed to more iconic, well–rounded celebrities from my favorite movies. And now, here we are… completely obsessed with Zendaya. 

I first remember seeing Zendaya in none other than the Disney Channel show Shake it Up! as dancer Rocky, and she was so entertaining to watch. Recently though, she’s definitely been in the spotlight, starring in some of my current favorite movies and TV shows like “Euphoria,”Spider–Man: No Way Home,” ”Dune,” “The Greatest Showman,” and wow…I’m already tired from listing just a few of her best. Being able to play everything from a drug addict to a circus performer is no small feat. Not only can Zendaya act, dance, sing, and trapeze, I honestly wouldn’t put anything past her. She’s my new top role–model, as not only is she amazing at what she does, but she is also inspiring in her personal life. 

Compared to some of the individuals I looked up to as a kid, Zendaya remains a positive, well–versed, and empathetic person, even as she transitioned from Disney Channel to more mature content. She’s not afraid to voice her opinion and stand up for injustices she sees in the entertainment industry and general society. Young children and adults alike can definitely learn a thing or two from her actions. 

The actress has opened up about the importance of utilizing her identity as a young Black woman to inspire others. She explained her goal of inspiring women to follow their dreams, stating, “That’s the ultimate goal, to make room, because for a lot of Black creatives, it’s not a lack of talent but a lack of opportunity.” She wants to push boundaries and create a more inclusive version of Hollywood, where everyone has an equal chance to voice their opinions and promote their work.

Zendaya uses her platform in a positive way, understanding the responsibility of her actions and her role as a celebrity with a large following. She said, “Now more than ever, specifically with Black Lives Matter and everything, I feel an obligation to make sure that I’m aware and putting out the right things…” Unfortunately, this is a pretty rare trait to see among other Hollywood stars in the spotlight. 

Additionally, the actress continually calls out traditionally accepted beauty standards, instead promoting acceptance of and admiration for women of color. She admits that she’s “Hollywood’s acceptable version of a Black girl,” explaining her privilege as a light–skinned Black woman. Hollywood has a lot of progress to make, especially when it comes to increasing diversity and representation in the entertainment we consume. 

I wish I had a role model like Zendaya when I was younger. Through all of her actions, she inspires the younger generation to be more open and accepting of one another.

Carly is a senior in the College majoring in PPE and minoring in Consumer Psychology. When she's not cackling at old Vines, she is probably binge watching YouTube videos and treating herself to a relaxing self-care routine. She is an astrology and Sudoku enthusiast and loves reading in her spare time...if that's what her horoscope is telling her to do.
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