Although a photographer has been documenting her every smile and twirl for the past few hours in a Manhattan studio, 18-year-old Zendaya isn’t too tired to sneak in a few selfies. Or, rather, she has enlisted her father, a former gym teacher-turned-manager to help. Hopefully, these behind-the-scenes shots will appease the actress-singer-dancer’s 4 million social media followers, a ravenous fan base with whom Zendaya always finds time to communicate — no matter how hectic her schedule is.
Lately, her days are pretty jam-packed. The Northern California native has been making a name for herself ever since 2010, when she landed a role on the Disney Channel series Shake It Up opposite Bella Thorne. Less than five years later, Zendaya (who was born Zendaya Coleman) has already released an advice book for tweens called Between U And Me, as well as a self-titled debut album that mined pop and R&B influences with great success. (Zendaya recently went platinum, a feat in a post-Spotify world.) She was the youngest person to appear on Dancing with the Stars (she was a runner-up), and is currently working on a new Disney sitcom. Yet as fast-paced as her own life is, on a recent visit to New York City, Zendaya admits that she doesn’t think she could survive in the City that Never Sleeps. “I could see myself being here for a month, tops,” laughs Zendaya. “I would spend way too much money. My sleeping pattern would be all messed up. There’s just so much available! Anytime I was hungry, I could go out and eat. At home, things close. You have to go to sleep.”