Zendaya Talks Moving Away From High School Roles, Says It’s ‘Refreshing’: ‘I Hope People Buy Me as My Own Age’

The 27-year-old actress confessed to 'Vogue' that she's ready to leave teenage roles behind despite her youthful looks.

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Zendaya knows there's more to the acting world than repeating high school-aged characters. That's what the Challengers star told Vogue when discussing her filmography, which often has her in teenage roles despite the actress being 27 years old.

“I’m always in a high school somewhere,” Zendaya told the fashion publication. “And, mind you, I never went to high school.”

.@Zendaya has never played a character quite like Tashi Duncan, the fiercely competitive tennis phenom at the center of Luca Guadagnino’s “Challengers.” “There was something about her that felt very, Oh, damn,” she says. “Even I was kind of scared of her.” https://t.co/2EuOAjW5th pic.twitter.com/a4LjsMcqtX

— Vogue Magazine (@voguemagazine) April 9, 2024
Twitter: @voguemagazine

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In Challengers, the Oakland native plays Tashi, a tennis instructor, wife, and mother in her early 30s. Some viewers might find the role surprising, as most of Zendaya's characters have been in high school, like Rue in Euphoria or MJ in the Spider-Man franchise, but she shared that she's ready to take on more mature characters. Arguably the most drastic and grown-up role she's played to date is Marie in 2021 romantic drama Malcolm & Marie.

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Calling her role in Challengers "refreshing," Zendaya admitted that it was also "kind of scary." "Because I was like, ‘I hope people buy me as my own age, or maybe a little bit older, because I have friends that have kids, or are having kids,'" she told Vogue.

Since Zendaya was a child star who played on Disney sitcoms Shake It Up and K.C. Undercover, she received educational lessons on-set instead of going to a traditional high school. She confessed to the publication that it potentially stunted her into just recently having an "angsty teenager phase."

“I have complicated feelings about kids and fame and being in the public eye, or being a child actor. We’ve seen a lot of cases of it being detrimental,” she told Vogue.

"And I think only now, as an adult, am I starting to go, ‘Oh, okay, wait a minute: I’ve only ever done what I’ve known, and this is all I’ve known,'" she continued. "I’m almost going through my angsty teenager phase now, because I didn’t really have the time to do it before. I felt like I was thrust into a very adult position: I was becoming the breadwinner of my family very early, and there was a lot of role-​reversal happening, and just kind of becoming grown, really."

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