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Zendaya Opened Up About Still Being Labeled A "Disney Kid" Despite Now Being An Emmy-Winning Actor

"The thing is I am a Disney kid. And to a degree, I am grateful for that."

Posted on January 27, 2021, at 8:40 a.m. ET

As an Emmy-winning actor with a plethora of TV and film roles under her belt — ranging from Euphoria to Spider-Man — you'd think that Zendaya might've shaken the whole ~Disney kid~ label by now.

Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

But, as is so often the case for those who get their start on Disney Channel shows — particularly the young female stars like Miley Cyrus and Vanessa Hudgens — it's a label that can be pretty hard to escape.

Disney

Zendaya starred in three seasons of K.C. Undercover between 2015 and 2018.

However, Zendaya doesn't mind still being called a Disney kid, revealing in a recent interview that she'll always be grateful for the show that helped boost her into the spotlight.

"The thing is I am [a Disney kid]. And to a degree, I am grateful for that," Zendaya explained to Carey Mulligan in Variety's latest episode of Actors on Actors. "That's where I started, and I learned so much from that experience."

Disney

"It's just kind of been this slow progression, and I am happy that it's all been to prove it to myself and not to anybody else, you know?" she added. "I embrace it a little bit. It's part of my heritage to a degree."

The 24-year-old went on to talk about how she was cast in the leading role for Euphoria while still technically being under the Disney umbrella, explaining that it finally gave her the "opportunity to explore" and try new things.

Steven Ferdman / Getty Images

"I've been very lucky, in the sense that every director so far that I worked with — and I'm still getting started — has been lovely," she said. "With Sam [Levinson], I definitely think there's just like a special connection there. Before Euphoria, technically I was still on Disney Channel. He must have seen something in me."

"[Sam] said that I was on a mood board for Rue," Zendaya continued. "I think there's something to that kind of faith, and already seeing something in me that I maybe knew was there, but I didn't ever have the opportunity to explore."

HBO

She went on: "I've always felt that I could bring things to the table: that I could be creative and free to try things, and put out bad ideas. Because of the Disney kid thing, I get scared of that kind of thing."

Of course, we all know what happened when Zendaya was finally able to be creative, try new things, and put out bad ideas — she won a freakin' Emmy!

ABC / Getty Images

And not only did she win the award for Best Lead Actress in a Drama, she made history on the night by being the youngest person to do so.

"This is pretty crazy!" Zendaya said in her acceptance speech, which was, of course, delivered at home because of the pandemic. "To the incredible cast and crew of Euphoria…I'm inspired by everything you do. To Sam Levinson, I appreciate you so much. You're my family."

"This feels like a really weird time to be celebrating," she went on. "There is hope in the young people out there…to all my peers out there doing the work, I see you. I admire you... Thank you."

You can read and watch Zendaya's full interview with Carey Mulligan here.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.