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7 Things We Learned About Zendaya From Her ESSENCE Cover Story

We got a peek into the Disney star's world.

Zendaya is a force to be reckoned with. 

At just 19 (yes, 19) years old, the teen already has starred on two hit Disney shows, boogied on Dancing With the Stars and knows what it means to speak her mind.

But there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to Zendaya. Like did you know that she’s a staunch vegetarian? What about that she’s scared to vote in her first presidential election? Read on to find out seven facts we learned from Zendaya’s August cover story.

1. Her fans span more than 150 nations
Zendaya is a hit in the United States, but did you know that her series, K.C. Undercover, is broadcast in an unbelievable 159 countries and in 28 different languages, attracting 113 million viewers?! You go, girl! 

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2. She’s a vegetarian (who loves pizza)! 
Zendaya’s costar and on-screen dad Kadeem Hardison said that while Zendaya is a proud vegetarian, she enjoys some junk food every now and then (during her cover shoot in Rio de Janeiro, Zendaya got a sudden craving for pizza, which turned into a lengthy hunt for a Brazilian Pizza Hut).

“She eats the worst food you could imagine,” Hardison said. “She’s a vegetarian, but all she eats is, like, Ramen noodles.”

3. She was raised to speak her mind
We all remember when Zendaya delivered the perfectly eloquent response to E! Fashion Police cohost Guiliana Rancic declaring that her Oscars look seemed as though it smelled of “patchouli and weed.” However, Zendaya’s willingness to speak her mind isn’t anything new.

“When I talk to people about that, this is not new,” she said. “It’s not something I just started doing. I just did it in public, and more people saw it than usual.” 

She says that her parents, who both taught in the Oakland school district, have a lot to do with that. “With her being my only daughter, I want her to feel like she’s empowered by having an opinion on life,” her father, Kazembe Ajamu, said. “I don’t want her or any of my children to feel like they have to be a part of the status quo and go along with the tide.”

4. She’s an old soul
Zendaya isn’t going to get caught up with the bustle of Tinseltown. Why? Because the teen admits that she’s an old soul who prefers a quiet night at home over a night out.

“I often feel like a 60-year-old woman in this body,” she joked. “I don’t go out; I don’t want out. Even here [in Rio], I could easily be trying to live it up and be in the nightlife, but I specifically asked, ‘Hey, can we go to a museum?’”

5. Her hustle is real
Work is the last thing on most 19-year-olds’ minds, but then again, Zendaya isn’t most 19-year-olds. Hardison says that on set, he observed that she’s constantly working and getting by on quick power naps.

“Watching her attack it each day, I’m telling you, it’s effortless,” he said. “Zendaya’s got her phone going, she’s making jokes on people, she’s doing her lines, she’s back to her phone…She’ll take these 90-second power naps and be back at it two minutes later, ready to go.”

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6. She’s thrilled—and terrified—to vote for the first time
As Zendaya prepares to cast her first-ever vote in a presidential election, she has a few thoughts—and worries. While she’s ecstatic to have finally reached voting age, the magnitude of voting is not lost upon her.

“I’m not going to lie; it’s so scary,” she said. “We’re not exercising our full citizenship when we don’t vote. [At] some point, we weren’t even considered human beings. There’s a lot of history around allowing women to vote, allowing Black people to vote. It’s your right.”

7. She understands what it means to be a role model
Getting her start on the Disney Channel, Zendaya has garnered millions of tween fans, and she has made it her mission to be a positive role model for all of them.

“You’ve got to realize those Twitter followers, those kids who watch you, that’s technically power,” she said. “So to me, I have responsibility or a duty to the people who watch me to promote positive things, or to show them positive things, or to enlighten them.”

For more on Zendaya, be sure to pick up a copy of our August global issue, on newsstands now!