From Disney to the Big Screen, Every Role Zendaya Has Played
It's Zendaya's world, and we're all just living in it — she sings, she dances, she acts! With her recent roles in "Spider-Man: No Way Home," "Dune," and "Malcolm & Marie" — and, of course, her leading part on the HBO series "Euphoria" — Zendaya is *the* moment. In 2020, her incredible performance in "Euphoria" earned her her first-ever Emmy win for outstanding lead actress in a drama series, making her the youngest lead actress and the second-ever Black actress in Emmys history to receive the award.
Even prior to this supernova of a moment for the actress, you've probably seen Zendaya around for a while. Before her historic win, she graced the silver screen as the trapeze artist Anne in "The Greatest Showman" and played the decidedly chill, deadpanned version of MJ in "Spider-Man: Homecoming." But perhaps Zendaya's most recognizable accomplishments before her foray into dramatic feature parts were her breakout roles on Disney Channel.
During her early years, Zendaya's résumé had Disney all over it. In 2010, she first graced the small screen as Rocky Blue, the precocious teen dancing sensation on the show "Shake It Up," which lasted three seasons on the family-friendly network. From 2015 to 2018, the actress also starred on Disney's "K.C. Undercover," in which she played a typical girl next door who also happens to be part of a family of spies. Her prolific Disney era included fun and frothy TV movies like "Frenemies" and "Zapped" as well.
And being the versatile actress she is, Zendaya has lent her voice to a few children's animated films. In the voice-acting world, she's probably best known for her role as "Smallfoot"'s Meechee, a young yeti who's been popularized by the viral "Zendaya is Meechee" meme. Zendaya's colorful voice-acting career also includes Lola Bunny in "Space Jam: A New Legacy," the lost duck Chi in "Duck Duck Goose," Fern the garden fairy in "Pixie Hollow Games," and the adorable pony Lollipop in "Super Buddies."
Zendaya's momentum is going strong, and she's undoubtedly skyrocketing beyond her Disney Channel roots. Clearly, she's booked and busy, as she's currently gearing up for the "Dune" sequel, prepping for Luca Guadagnino's sports drama "Challengers," and likely getting ready for the next season of "Euphoria." While we patiently await what's next for Zendaya, ahead are all of her TV and movie roles for you to enjoy.
"Shake It Up" (2010-2013)
Zendaya's career officially kicked off when she landed the coleading role on Disney Channel's "Shake It Up" as Rocky Blue. On the show, Rocky and CeCe (Bella Thorne) are two best friends living out their dreams as professional dancers on a local show. Of course, their dream gig isn't always smooth sailing, and their day-to-day lives as growing teens also bring along unexpected challenges.
"Pixie Hollow Games" (2011)
In this cute half-hour Disney special, Zendaya voices the garden fairy Fern and officially joins Tinker Bell's Fairies universe. The bulk of the story follows fairies Rosetta (Megan Hilty) and Chloe (Brenda Song) as they participate in the titular Pixie Hollow Games. As a supporting character, Fern is known for being very practical and organized as she cheers on Rosetta and Chloe.
Disney Channel's "Frenemies" brings together multiple plots "Love Actually" style with storylines following various students in the same high school. Zendaya and Thorne team up once more as Halley and Avalon, two friends who launch a magazine called GeeklyChic. The magazine gets picked up by a fancy New York City publishing company, but the catch is that only one of girls will get to be senior editor. Inevitably, the two former best friends duke it out to get the role, and antics ensue.
"Super Buddies" (2013)
Zendaya made her feature debut with Disney's "Super Buddies," the last film in the Air Bud franchise. The movie follows the Buddies, a group of superpowered dogs who go up against an alien warlord named Commander Drex. Zendaya isn't one of the pups but instead briefly voices a pony named Lollipop.
One of Zendaya's early breakout leading roles was that of Zoey Stevens in the Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM) "Zapped." Zoey is a young high school student who finds herself facing mishap after mishap when her mother remarries a man with three boys. She comes across a dog-training app that helps her control the rowdy family dog and eventually learns that it can be used on boys like her stepbrothers and classmates.
"K.C. Undercover" (2015-2018)
Although best known for her dramatic roles these days, Zendaya effortlessly flexes her comedic chops on Disney's "K.C. Undercover," a sitcom that follows a goofy family of spies. While saving the world with Kim Possible's savvy and Raven Baxter's ridiculous costumes, K.C. (Zendaya) also balances her job with the trials and tribulations of high school life. Despite being awkward and clumsy, she's got the love of her devoted family and her very normal BFF Marisa, who's in on the whole spy situation.
"Spider-Man: Homecoming" (2017)
Zendaya's foray into the Marvel Cinematic Universe is reminiscent of her "K.C. Undercover" role as she plays MJ, a low-key, dry-witted nerd from Peter Parker's friend group. In the first MCU Spider-Man movie, Peter's just starting to get his footing as a superhero, and he actually has another romantic interest for most of the film. But following the footsteps of the canonical characters, Peter and MJ gradually grow close.
"The Greatest Showman" (2017)
"The Greatest Showman" might be all about Hugh Jackman's P.T. Barnum, but we've got to tip our hats to Zendaya's Anne Wheeler, a Black trapeze artist who strikes up a relationship with Zac Efron's Phillip Carlyle, Barnum's business partner. Despite society's hostility against them, the pair wind up getting together. And yes, this is the movie that features "Rewrite the Stars," the catchy Zendaya and Zac Efron song that you're probably subconsciously humming right now.
"Duck Duck Goose" (2018)
It's immensely difficult to pan any movie that involves baby ducks and Zendaya, so "Duck Duck Goose" is just one of those films that the entire family can enjoy. Zendaya voices Chi, a duckling who, along with her brother, Chao (Lance Lim), gets displaced from the rest of her flock. The siblings befriend a freewheeling goose named Peng (Jim Gaffigan), who gets abandoned by his flock while migrating to China.
In this animated flick, Meechee, voiced by Zendaya, is the daughter of a yeti chief. Gracing the screen with her formidable purple stature, Meechee's no damsel in distress. Fun and curious, she's also the fearless leader of the Smallfoot Evidentiary Society, which is all about proving Smallfoot's existence.
"Spider-Man: Far From Home" (2019)
"Spider-Man: Far From Home" is when Zendaya's role in the MCU really starts to get meatier. Following the devastating Thanos blip, Peter and his classmates go on a trip abroad to Europe. As Peter mourns the death of his mentor, Tony Stark, he also plans on letting MJ know his true feelings for her. MJ is already a few steps ahead of Peter, though, and knows more about his secret life than she lets on.
These days, Zendaya's probably best known in most circles for her performance as Rue Bennett on the teen drama "Euphoria." Rue is, to make the understatement of the year, a high school student plagued by many troubles. She struggles with substance abuse, and the series focuses greatly on her tumultuous relationship with Jules (Hunter Schafer), another high schooler who's dealing with her own set of issues.
"The OA" (2019)
The core of "The OA" is all about Prairie Johnson (Brit Marling), an adopted young woman who mysteriously returns after going missing for seven years. After returning home, Prairie refers to herself as "the Original Angel," or the OA, and refuses to talk to her parents and the FBI about what had happened to her. In the second season, Zendaya takes on a three-episode role as a gamer named Fola Uzaki, who assists detective Karim Washington in trying to find a missing person.
"Spider-Man: No Way Home" (2021)
MJ and Peter are officially dating in the third Spider-Man installation in the MCU, but the lovebirds face trouble in paradise. Peter's now framed for Quentin Beck's murder, and the whole world knows that he's Spider-Man. With help from Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), he's hoping to use magic to fix the situation. Without veering too much into spoiler territory, messing with the laws of the multiverse ultimately shifts Peter's relationship with MJ.
"Space Jam: A New Legacy" (2021)
Icons will be portraying icons, so naturally, Zendaya voices Lola Bunny in the "Space Jam" sequel. Lola Bunny's part in the film isn't too prominent, but she does help LeBron James come up against an evil AI that traps him and his son in a digital space. While panned by many critics, the film is a fun watch for those who have "Space Jam" nostalgia.
"Malcolm & Marie" (2021)
Zendaya stars across John David Washington in "Malcolm & Marie," a romantic drama helmed by "Euphoria" creator Sam Levinson. She plays Marie, a young woman who feels deeply underappreciated by her filmmaker boyfriend, Malcolm. Though Marie believes herself to be the inspiration for the main character in Malcolm's new movie, he denies that she's his sole inspiration, and the cracks in their relationship emerge. The small, black-and-white project came about when Levinson and Zendaya came up with the idea of creating a feature film during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. The duo decided that Levinson would direct while Zendaya and Washington would produce.
While Zendaya's role in "Dune" is brief, it's certainly a memorable one. Based on the book of the same name, "Dune" centers on Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), a member of the ruling family of planet Caladan. Zendaya portrays Chani, an enigmatic Fremen warrior who pops up in Paul's dreams throughout the film. With the sequel in the works, we can expect Zendaya's character to play a bigger role in the upcoming film.