Zendaya Says She Will Always Be 'Grateful' for Her 'Disney Kid' Past: 'I Embrace It'

Zendaya has come a long way since her time on the Disney Channel, but the acclaimed actress isn't ashamed of where she got her start.

The Euphoria star recently chatted with actress Carey Mulligan for Variety's Actors on Actors series where she explained that she'll always be proud of being the "Disney kid."

Now that Zendaya is the youngest person to ever win the Emmy for best lead actress in a drama, Mulligan remarked that the 24-year-old "surely can't think of [herself] as a Disney kid."

"The thing is I am. And to a degree, I am grateful for that," Zendaya replied. "That's where I started, and I learned so much from that experience."

"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 continued. "I embrace it a little bit. It's part of my heritage to a degree."

As for how Zendaya transitioned from Disney Channel's Shake It Up to more complex roles like Rue on Euphoria, the actress admitted she was "confused" herself when being considered for the HBO series.

Zendaya said that Euphoria's director, Sam Levinson, was confident in her abilities to act beyond her previous work.

"He must have seen something in me," Zendaya told Mulligan. "He said that I was on a mood board for Rue. And I was like, 'No, you didn't!' 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."

Still, the actress said she was apprehensive when it came to taking risks.

"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," she explained.

Zendaya also opened up about her experience winning the Emmy during last year's virtual ceremony.

"I was just excited to be involved in the conversation. I was really nervous," she admitted. "And of course, it wasn't a typical ceremony. But in many ways, I'm grateful for that, because it was really nice having my family around me, quite literally having my back."

The star said she felt "very safe" in the moment, despite "freaking out" over her history-making win.

"I couldn't imagine having to go up in front of a big crowd," she added.

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