Zendaya Coleman was born on September 1, 1996 in Oakland, California, to Kazembe Ajamu Coleman and Claire Stoermer. Her name means "to give thanks" in the Shona language. Presently, she resides in Los Angeles, California, with her family and her pet dog, Midnight, which is a black Giant Schnauzer. Zendaya’s mother used to work as a House Manager at the California Shakespearan Theatre in Orinda, California, so much of her early childhood was spent there. She would help her mother in the theater including seating patrons and selling raffle tickets. Later, she trained at the theater's student conservatory program and was able to perform in several stage productions there.
Early on, Zendaya showed interest in acting. She attended school at the Oakland School for the Arts as well as train at the California Shakespeare Theater Conservatory program and the American Conservatory Theater. While studying Zendaya would appear in various stage productions including the production of Once on This Island by the Berkeley Playhouse as the young Ti Moune.
Professionally, Zendaya got her break first as a model for Old Navy, Macy’s and Mervyns. Later, she appeared in commercials including one for an iCarly toy and one for Sears where she was a back-up dancer to Disney Channel star Selena Gomez. In 2009, Zendaya was featured as a performer in a music video for Kidz Bop, doing a cover of Katie Perry’s Hot or Cold. The video was released in Kidz Bop 15. In addition, she starred in the book trailer for Katie Alender’s book From Bad To Cursed. At present, Zendaya stars with Bella Thorne in the Disney Channel comedy series Shake It Up. She plays Raquel "Rocky" Blue, the dance partner of Bella’s character Cecilia "CeCe" Jones. When Zendaya was accepted for the role of Rocky, she had to quit Oakland School for the Arts and move to Los Angeles.
Zendaya’s career is really taking off. She has recently ventured into recording with the release of her first single Swag It Out on iTunes and Amazon. The official music video for her single had been previewed on YouTube. Zendaya also has a music video with Bella Thorne for the song Watch Me. It premiered on Disney Channel on June 17, 2011 as a commercial during the premiere of A.N.T. Farm. In 2012, the film Frenemies will premiere with Zendaya in her first movie role. She co-stars in that movie with Shake It Up cast mate Bella Thorne and Stefanie Scott from A.N.T. Farm. A Disney Channel Original movie version of her TV series Shake It Up is also currently in development.