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why zendaya doesn't plan on having a 'miley moment'

The 19-year-old actress distinguishes between ‘role models’ and ‘real models’ with help from Tupac Shakur and Hannah Montana.

by i-D Staff
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03 December 2015, 9:53am

Between her poignant response to Giuliana Rancic's culturally insensitive comments regarding her choice to wear dreadlocks at the 2015 Oscars and her decision to share unretouched photos from a Modeliste Magazine shoot on Instagram, Zendaya has become something of a role model for a new generation unwilling to accept narrow notions of beauty. But in her new Complex cover story, the Disney Channel star and burgeoning singer was quick to point out the difference between 'role models' and 'real models.'

"Like Tupac Shakur, I'm a real model," the 19-year-old told the magazine. "Which means: I'm not pretending to be something that I'm not, because like he said, people are going to be disappointed when they find out who you are, because it's not going to be what you presented to the world. So just keep it real. I'm a good kid and that's all."

Later in the interview, Zendaya provided a little more insight into why Disney's spotlight often leads its talented teens to rebel once they've outgrown wholesome characters: "A lot of them were forced into being role models and they had to pretend to be something that they didn't feel matched up with who they were," she said. "Everyone has their different ways of learning and growing and finding out who they are, and you can't fault people for that."

Mouseketeers-turned-pop-icons Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera certainly broke out of their bubblegum origins upon outgrowing their teen years, but perhaps no former Disney star has undergone as radical a change as Miley Cyrus. Zendaya shut down the prospect of having her own 'Miley moment,' stating she's strived to keep it real: "In order to avoid those problems just be yourself from the beginning and be honest with the world, because that's the only thing you can do. There will be no surprises."

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Text Emily Manning
Image via @zendaya