She’s only just turned 14, but AccessHollywood.com’s newest Rising Star – Zendaya – is already graduating to the big leagues – the home of the Mouse.
With no television experience, the California teen recently landed the one of two starring roles on “Shake It Up,” the Disney Channel’s newest sitcom, set to premiere on November 7.
The show, which centers around two best friends – CeCe Jones, played by Bella Thorne and Raquel “Rocky” Blue, played by Zendaya — who become backup dancers for a local dance show, is not only a major break, but the young woman’s first.
“This is my very first TV show ever. I’ve never been on any other TV show so this is really exciting and for it to involve dancing is pretty cool,” the bouncy-haired teen told AccessHollywood.com’s Laura Saltman, who recently hit the set of the comedy.
The youngster, however, is no stranger to acting. In fact, she revealed she grew up around thespians thanks to her mother’s job in Northern California.
“I used to do a lot of theatrical stuff, I mean my mom works at the California Shakespeare Theater so ever since I was like 2, I’ve been watching all of these amazing actresses and directors on set,” she told Laura. “And that’s when I kind of realized I wanted to act.”
Disney comedies have helped launch the careers of a host of stars like Ashley Tisdale, who pre-“High School Musical” was a regular on “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody,” Miley Cyrus of “Hannah Montana,” and Selena Gomez of “The Wizards of Waverly Place.”
Now, it’s Zendaya’s turn and she’s enjoying every minute.
“It’s wonderful,” she said of life on the set of the comedy. “It’s a balance of work and fun. I mean, we have a lot of fun on set, we have a family and so it’s not as much work as we thought it would be, it’s more fun and games.”
Zendaya, whose co-star, Bella, just calls her “Z,” said she’s thrilled to be on the show and is ready for questions about her unique name.
“Well, my name is Zendaya… it was in an African name book and it was Jendaya or something like that with a ‘J’ and my dad, he loved Z,” she explained of her name’s routes. “So he added a ‘Z’ in there and made Zendaya. So it’s kind of halfway made up, halfway for real and it means: To give thanks!”
With a name like that, who needs a last name?
“My first name is so beautiful and it kind of speaks for itself that it needs nothing else. Zendaya — like Madonna,” she giggled.