Zendaya, which means "to give thanks" in Shona, was born "Zendaya Janae Coleman" on September 1, 1996, in Oakland, California. She grew up as part of the California Shakespeare Theater in Orinda, California where her mother worked as the House Manager. In addition to training at the theater's student conservatory program, and later performing in numerous stage productions, Zendaya helped her mother seat patrons and sell raffle tickets to benefit the theater.
While attending the Oakland School for the Arts, she starred as a young Ti Moune in Once on This Island at the Berkley Playhouse and in the breakout role of the male character Joe in Caroline, or Change at Palo Alto's TheaterWorks. She also studied her craft at the CalShakes Conservatory program and at the American Conservatory Theater. Her other stage credits include Richard III, Twelfth Night, and As You Like It, among others.
Zendaya began her professional career working as a fashion model for Macy's, Mervyns and Old Navy. She also appeared as a back-up dancer in a Sears commercial featuring Disney Channel star Selena Gomez, and in 2009, she was a featured performer in the Kidz Bop music video for it's cover version of the song Hot n Cold. Zendaya currently stars on the Disney Channel original series Shake It Up! as Raquel "Rocky" Blue alongside Bella Thorne as CeCe Jones, the comedic duo trying to dance their way to stardom.
Zendaya currently lives in Los Angeles with her family and dog, a Giant Schnauzer named Midnight. Her interests include singing, dancing and designing clothes. Zendaya hopes that just as theater led her to television, Shake It Up! will someday lead her to opportunities in the music industry. In October 2010, Zendaya told Variety "I love singing and would love to record an album at some point."