We spoke with one of our favorite Disney actresses, Zendaya, while she was in Manhattan recently. She stars as Rocky Blue in "Shake It Up" and will be a part of "Dancing With the Stars" season 16, starting March 18.
Do you personally have a lot of bloopers on "Shake It Up"?
We do. We have tons of bloopers. In fact like almost every episode something funny and crazy happens.
Who do you look up to like your role model?
Other than my parents, because I love my parents I would say careerwise, Beyoncé. I think she's an amazing performer and she works really hard at everything she does and plus she's super talented.
Of all the people you worked with, who is the most fun?
That's like impossible. As of guest stars on "Shake It Up"? I think Tyra [Banks]. She was super cool and really brought a lot to her character. She kind of played that crazy librarian. So she did a lot of improv stuff. She was really funny.
When you're in New York, what are some of your favorite things to do?
Shop. I love shopping. I'm a girl. . . . I always try to hit the good shopping spots or I like to sleep because there's a time difference from where I am to here. So I get my sleep in.
Who inspired you to sing and dance?
Michael Jackson inspired me to sing and dance because well he's Michael Jackson. I really don't know how to explain that. He's Michael Jackson and watching him perform, just knowing that he's the best of what he did and he'll never be forgotten. And even now he's just as big as he was when he was alive and I think that's a beautiful thing. So he's still alive in my eyes.
How many hours a day do you practice?
I practice for "Shake It Up" -- we work 101/2 hours a day. So we work 101/2 hours a day on the show and then usually like weekends, or when I'm off "Shake It Up" I'm doing . . . interviews and things like that.
As a child did you always like to sing and dance?
I did. I would put on little performances in my living room for my parents. Like I would put curtains and stuff like that and would have my boom box going and do performances. I would act, sing and dance. I would do everything. And I totally thought I was amazing, which I probably wasn't.
Did you take classes?
I did. I took hip hop dance class when I was about 8 years old. That's how I started dancing. And I did hula dances as well and I went to art school and I did a lot of arts, like theater programming and stuff and theater.
Do you give any script ideas?
We do. Like a lot of the times they come up with all the stuff on their own, but a lot of the times we do have a little say in things that go in there. For example, I made Rocky a vegetarian in the first scene from like the first season. The meatball episode. And I was like, "Hey, we're vegetarian" and they're like, "Hey, we should put that in the script." Little things like that.
What is your favorite type of food?
Favorite type of food is ice cream. Haagen Dazs coffee ice cream. That is a food and it is delicious. I believe nutritious -- it's like calcium. Healthy bones and stuff.
Did you watch the Disney Channel growing up?
I did. I actually only watched the Disney Channel growing up. It was my favorite channel that I remember watching "Hannah Montana," "Lizzie McGuire," "That's So Raven." Sometimes I would watch it and cry because I was so upset that they were doing that and I wasn't. I was like, "That's not fair. Why can't I do it?" Well, here I am.
Do you miss regular school?
Sometimes I kind of miss the whole other kids and the classroom kind of thing, but I feel like I kind of like what I'm doing. It's a cool way of learning. It's different. It's still cool.
Do you have a favorite subject in school?
I really like biology. I'm learning biology this year and I'm learning about the human body, the way things work, and how all that stuff comes together. I think it's pretty interesting.
Do you have any brothers or sisters and if not, what's it like being the only child? If so, how do they feel?
I have two older brothers and two older sisters and they are all grown and have kids. So I'm basically an only child. Only when I'm in the house you can say. It doesn't affect them at all. They don't care. They've known me since I was born so it really doesn't matter to them at all. It makes them more protective of me.
What's the best and worse part of acting?
The best part is the fact that I get to come and transform myself into all these different people without actually changing. I get to experience things, get in trouble and do crazy things without actually having it happen in real life. Who else can say that they blew a snot rocket onto a reporter, and it covered them completely with slime. No one can say that except me. Who can say you can choose your meatball and who could say they hung from a scaffold outside a building. I've done all these crazy things. It think it's kind of cool. I get to see that stuff that I ever tried or been able to do.
Do you have any pets?
I do. I have a giant schnauzer named Midnight. He's 120 pounds. He's huge. He's a big boy.
Do you miss when you're away from home?
I do. I miss my dog. Usually I travel with my dad so I miss my mom a lot. She's at home with the dog, but I Skype. That's what we have to do chats for.
If you could perform with any artist who would that be?
It would be of course, Beyoncé. I say that every time. But other than that probably like a Justin Bieber would be really cool. I don't know there's so many like talented people out there. I couldn't even choose.
Do you get to keep your wardrobe?
Not from the set, no.
What is your favorite vacation spot?
Well I haven't actually been there yet, but it's my grandfather's favorite place I always wanted to go. I always wanted to go to Florence, Italy. But other than that I love Paris. Paris and Dubai -- it's the coolest for culture and stuff like that.
Do you travel a lot?
I do travel a lot. When it comes on the weekends sometime I travel to the states for autograph signings and things like that or I might go out of the country every so often for checking on publicity stuff.
If you could only choose one -- singing or performing on a stage or on TV, what would you like the most?
I could not choose because I feel like all of them are so much fun. Everybody has that one thing that they love to do. For me it's performing on stage and being in front of the TV. I couldn't choose.
Are you as famous as you want to be?
Actually I don't consider myself famous or I don't consider myself a celebrity. I feel like sometimes when people do that like they consider themselves that way is when they start acting that way. Like divas. I just consider myself a very normal girl with a very abnormal lifestyle and there's of course a lot of things that I have to still accomplish -- and I want to still accomplish some Grammy's in the future.
What is your favorite episode of "Shake It Up"?
OK, that's impossible. I can't choose. There's so many really awesome ones. There's ones that you guys haven't seen this scene that are like really, really going to be some cool ones though. I can't wait for you guys to see those.
What do you like to do for fun when you're not working?
I like to sleep, like to eat ice cream. I'm really good at eating ice cream. I don't ever get sick from ice cream. Never. It's like I'm immune to ice cream. I could be so full and just eat a whole bunch of ice cream it wouldn't affect me at all. It's a talent of mine. Just go to the movies, hang out with my friends, be really boring.
Do you get stage fright?
I use to get stage fright like very bad and I was like, "No, I don't want to do it." They would drag me out on stage. But now I'm so used to it. It's like second nature. I don't get as nervous anymore.