Zendaya is no stranger to activism. From fighting stereotypes and sexism to advocating for racial equality, she makes her opinions known on Twitter as well as participating in charities and rallies. This month, the singer/actress is channeling her focus on something new: education.
She is the spokeswoman for Verizon's #WeNeedMore campaign, which works to provide students with access to free technology and hands-on learning to encourage an interest and development of STEM careers.
On Wednesday (March 8), Zendaya and her audio engineer gave a group of middle school students a recording tutorial in the historic Capitol Studios in hopes of introducing music technology careers to the new generation of scholars.
The students were giddy to hop in the studio and track their vocal skills, but even more interested to learn about the audio editing programs and the fun effects that can be put on voices, such as a higher pitch to give a chipmunk-sounding effect or a distorted filter giving the sound of singing underwater.
Zendaya tells Billboard of the importance of behind-the-scenes work. "Everybody wants to be a singer or rapper or actress or famous -- but there's a lot more that goes into it. You see a movie and there's a million people that made that one movie possible." She adds, "One of the kids was like, 'I think after being here today, I want to work here.' I think that's so cool."
Zendaya says the #WeNeedMore campaign hits close to home for her. "My mom was a teacher in an underprivileged community and in a school that didn't have the resources or the money to give the kids certain opportunities. There's a section of kids who don't get the same access to that education, because as technology advances, so does education. It's not really fair that a certain demographic of kids get left out because it's not available to them."
She says her favorite part is working with kids, "Anything involving young people has me from the jump. Sign me up!"
The songstress has plenty of experience learning about music technology in her own career. Most recently, she worked with Prince Royce for the bachata tune, "X." She says she understands and has the utmost respect for the people who have the ability to transform recordings into hits with the push of a few buttons.
"There was a time where you had to sing a song all the way through once and that's it," she says. "You couldn't take vocals apart or add filters or edit things. Now, all of that is on a computer screen and you can do it on your phone if you want to. I think technology has allowed us to have more freedom when it comes to music."
When asked what she hopes in the future of music, Zendaya says it's important to learn from the musicians who revolutionized the way music is made: "I think once you have a respect for the past and the people who came before you and paved the way for you in music, only then can you make quality music because you appreciate what it took to get there. I want to see more people be creative and make things their own and pushing the envelope."