Last updated: 06/02/2014 04:21:04 PM
Zendaya stars as Raquel “Rocky” Blue, one half of the comedic duo of young dancers trying to dance her way to stardom, in the new Disney Channel series “Shake It Up!”
Born September 1, 1996, in Oakland, California, Zendaya grew up as part of the nearby California Shakespeare Theater in Orinda, where her mother works 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 mom seat patrons and sell raffle tickets to benefit the theater.
While attending the Oakland School for the Arts, she starred as Little Ti Moune in “Once on This Island” at the Berkley Playhouse and 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,” “As You Like It,” among others.
Zendaya, which means “to give thanks” in Shona (a Bantu language native to the Shona people of Zimbabwe), was a fashion model for Macy’s, Mervyns and Old Navy. She was also one of the back-up dancers in a Sears commercial featuring Disney Channel star Selena Gomez. Zendaya also spent three years dancing with Future Shock Oakland, a hip hop dance troupe, and two years dancing hula with AHA, The Academy of Hawaiian Arts.
Zendaya now resides in Los Angeles, California with her family and dog, a Giant Schnauzer named Midnight. Her interests include singing, dancing and clothes designing.