Zendaya talks breaking out of the 'world of Disney': 'I felt stagnant'

Zendaya is forging her own path as an actress, and that means leaving Disney’s sparkling sheen behind.

The 21-year-old up-and-comer recently sat down with Marie Claire to discuss the trajectory she’d like her career to take after spending years working on the Disney Channel’s Shake It Up alongside Bella Thorne. Largely, that means breaking out from everything she was used to.

“It’s definitely been a process, especially because I’m coming from this very different world of Disney,” she said of her more recent roles. “Having been consistently on a television show, I felt stagnant. Not having that anymore, I am being seen as a real actress, doing what makes me feel pushed and motivated. I don’t necessarily think comfort is always the best place to live in. I’m kind of excited as I decide what projects I want to take on or if I want to produce. I’ve really found the power in just doing what makes me happy.”

Zendaya added that, since leaving the House of Mouse behind, she’s found different ways to reinvent herself as she attempts to grow as an actress.

“I wanted to create who I was as a person outside of my Disney character. Fashion helped with that. My stylist, Law Roach, and I created a world beyond what I was known as through clothes. Picking the right projects helped too. There was a lot of not getting the audition that I wanted and often going out for parts that weren’t written for a girl who looks like me and just saying, ‘Hey, see me anyway,’ until the right thing stuck.”

She also stated that, as a young African-American woman trying to build a lasting career in the industry, she feels as though she has far less latitude to screw up compared to white fellow actors.

“What my white peers would be able to get away with at this point in their career is not something that I will be able to do,” she explained. “And I knew that from when I was real young. That’s just the truth, and so you’ll be kind of afraid of making mistakes because I love what I do. I don’t want to jeopardize it at any point because I am not allowed the room to mess up.”

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Zendaya out and about
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 20: Zendaya attends the Australian premiere of The Greatest Showman at The Star on December 20, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Don Arnold/WireImage)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 20: Zendaya attends the Australian premiere of The Greatest Showman at The Star on December 20, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 14: Zendaya, Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, and James Corden during Crosswalk The Musical in New York City with James Corden during 'The Late Late Show with James Corden,' on Thursday, December 14, 2017 airing On The CBS Television Network. (Photo by Timothy Kuratek/CBS via Getty Images)
MEX, MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - 2017/12/13: Actress Zendaya Coleman is seen attending at red carpet of The Greatest Showman film premiere to promote his latest movie at Oasis Coyoacan Mall . (Photo by Carlos Tischler/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Zendaya is seen during a film press conference to promote The Greatest Showman on December 13, 2017 in M�ico City, Mexico (Photo by Carlos Tischler/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0787 -- Pictured: Actress Zendaya during an interview on December 11, 2017 -- (Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 11: Zendaya heads back to her hotel on December 11, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Zendaya on Monday, December 11, 2017 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 11: Actress Zendaya is seen walking in Midtown on December 11, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 11: Actor Zendaya is seen outside the today show on December 11, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 09: Singer and Actress Zendaya takes photo of her Cake by BCakes NY for Bobby Van's CPS at Bobby Van's CPS on December 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images for Bobby Van's)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 09: Zendaya attends the cast of 'The Greatest Showman' light the Empire State Building at The Empire State Building on December 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 08: Zendaya attends 'The Greatest Showman' World Premiere aboard the Queen Mary 2 at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal on December 8, 2017 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05: Zendaya leaves Claridges to go to Vogue House on December 5, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by SAV/GC Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 06: Zendaya seen at Capital Radio Studios on December 6, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Neil Mockford/GC Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04: Zendaya attends The Fashion Awards 2017 in partnership with Swarovski at Royal Albert Hall on December 4, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03: Zendaya attends a drinks reception ahead of the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2017 at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, on December 3, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 21: Actress/singer Zendaya attends the 2017 Bloomingdale's Holiday Windows Unveiling at Bloomingdale's on November 21, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 13: Zendaya attends the 2017 Glamour Women of The Year Awards at Kings Theatre on November 13, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 07: Zendaya and Ashley Graham attend the Forevermark Tribute event on November 7, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jennifer Graylock/Getty Images for Forevermark)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 26: Zendaya attends the Volez, Voguez, Voyagez - Louis Vuitton Exhibition Opening on October 26, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: Zendaya attends CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Show and Tea at Chateau Marmont at Chateau Marmont on October 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images for CFDA/Vogue)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 24: Zendaya (L) and Kaylee Stoermer Coleman attend Michael Jackson Scream Album Halloween Takeover at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres on October 24, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for SONY Music)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 23: Actress Zendaya arrives at the 3rd Annual InStyle Awards at The Getty Center on October 23, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Zendaya touched down in Sydney sporting a casual look with her Away in tow, as she joined her fellow cast members for the premiere of “The Greatest Showman.”
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