Zendaya on Getting Zapped, Sticking With Disney and Honoring Aaliyah

Zendaya ZappedSeventeen-year-old triple-threat Zendaya is looking to “shake it up” with the new Disney Channel original movie Zapped, followed by her second turn headlining a series for the cable channel as well a Lifetime biopic that’s near and dear to her heart.

First up and premiering this Friday at 8/7c — where it leads into the Girl Meets World premiere — is Zapped, based off the book Boys Are Dogs and following a high school transfer student’s discovery that her new dog-training app can in fact control boys, as well.

“Zoey’s just a regular girl who’s mom has remarried, so she has three stepbrothers she just moved in with, her stepdad, a ‘stepdog,’ and she goes to new school where she has to figure out how to fit in,” Zendaya shares with TVLine. “But then something happens to her phone and next thing you know she can start controlling boys, so she starts telling them to do yoga, wax their eyebrows, be quiet, stop farting all the time…. She thinks it’s amazing at first!”

But, just as with Flubber and Now You See Him, Now You Don’t‘s invisibility spray, scientific marvels tend to turn out to be not entirely marvelous. The changes Zoey makes begin to backfire, jeopardizing her new romance (with Lab Rats‘ Spencer Boldman), putting a stepbro’s future at risk and, for good measure, drawing the wrath of the resident mean girl dance captain. “It gets to be a bit much,” Zendaya laughs. “She realizes that maybe her phone isn’t the answer to all her problems.”

ZENDAYA, CHANELLE PELOSOThough Zendaya’s first Disney Channel series, Shake It Up, ended last summer after three seasons, she recently signed on to front a second comedy for the cabler, K.C. Undercover, in which she will play a socially awkward teenager who discovers that her boring “accountant” parents are actually spies — and now they need her help. “I feel like it’s a cool twist on a Disney series, that it has a way to be edgy and ‘older’ while still being young,” the actress offers. And since the titular K.C. boasts tournament-honed karate skills (this is where Zendaya’s dance background comes into play) as well as super smarts, “She can kick some major butt!”

That Zendaya — who released a self-titled album last fall and had a single (“Replay”) hit No. 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 — elected to re-up with Disney Channel versus break away and focus on her singing career could be seen as surprising. To anyone but her.

“I think you can do both,” she attests. “I want to be the person who shows that its completely possible to continue growing your young fan base as they’re growing up… and also try other things. That you can grow up in the ‘older space’ while still catering to another demographic. I think those things can coexist.” Besides, her style of music, she says, has none of the “craziness” that might run afoul of her Mickey Mouse-friendly fan base. One of her idols, Michael Jackson, “was the best at that,” she notes. “He had hit after hit that everyone loved, and he never cussed once.”

In addition to MJ,MTV Nickelodeon's John Leguizamo Zendaya lists among her musical inspirations Beyonce, Bob Marley and Aaliyah — the latter of whom she is set to portray in a Lifetime movie based on Aaliyah: More Than a Woman, a best-seller about the R&B artist’s life, which was cut short at age 22 by a tragic plane crash. In the barely two weeks since the project was announced, Zendaya has been prompted to defend her casting via a series of Twitter posts, while Aaliyah’s family has threatened to sue to silence the small-screen bio.

Explaining her interest to TVLine, she says, “I love Aaliyah — why wouldn’t I want to be a part of this? So I auditioned like anybody else, and I worked hard because I really wanted to showcase her in the best light.” And while the project’s producer has gone as record as saying the movie will not gloss over Aaliyah’s “personal and professional relationship with [singer] R. Kelly” (whom she first dated when she was 15, he 27), Zendaya promises a tale that’s by and large “inspiring and uplifting…. It’s about honoring her life and showing what she was able to accomplish in so short a time.”

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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14 Comments
  1. dude says:

    Keisha Chante was the better option for Aaliyah.

    • Earth says:

      I think Zendaya will do a great job, she is young like Aaliyah was. (This Keisha is like already 26). Zendaya is very talented and seems to care a lot about this tribute to some one she idolized.

    • Priscilla Arreanp says:

      Zendaya is the one who can play the part of Aaliyah she is awesome and she can do anything that she wants she is a great actor for this part

  2. Brooke says:

    DATED? They were married, sketchily enough.

  3. Gna says:

    Why did they need an audition? Keke Palmer should have been given the role on a platter. She is much more like Aliyah in every way.

  4. Deneen Holmes says:

    I am upset and saddened,I AM A TRUE FAN of Aaliyah. I grew up listening to her music,buying her cassette tapes.From her Song “Back and Forth” to “Come Over”,I think Zedaya is a poor choice to play her and Lifetime is disrespecting Aaliyah memory and disrespecting the Haughton family.R.Kelly needs to speak against it also.

  5. Paula says:

    POLAND NEEDS YOU ZENDAYA♥♥ xx

  6. Himself says:

    Zandaya isn’t like super light, thats the sun and bright lights that make her look so light but she isn’t.

    Zendaya also looks a little like Aaliyah.
    People already think the movies is bad when its not even out yet. ?

    Zendaya had a huge fan bas which is why they want her, for the viewers.

    Zendaya can’t change the way she looks just to look like her.

    The only thing that really matters is that she portrays aliyah. No one is looking to see if she can become her twin.

  7. dudette says:

    Big mistake. They don’t look or sound the same. Zendaya doesn’t have that natural charisma either.

  8. lasbeauty says:

    I don’t understand why her family is so mad st lifetime. Saying that she deserves more than a lifetime movie. I agree she does deserve a bigger contribute but it doesn’t look like they’re going to make anytime soon. Doesn’t look like they ever even thought about. Seems like If it were up to them nothing would’ve been made

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