Zendaya Coleman
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Last winter, Zendaya Coleman was thrust into the spotlight, and it wasn't because of a new acting role or music. As Coleman was embarking on an evening of glitz and glamour while rocking a Vivienne Westwood dress and faux locks, she quickly realized that her fashion choices were under a microscope. And some may have referred to that microscope as racist.

As the world admired Coleman’s dress and hair, Giuliana Rancic, of Fashion Police, didn’t quite understand why anyone would want to look like they smelled like “patchouli oil” or “weed.” It was those comments that sent social media into an uproar. Because how dare someone make such stereotypical remarks about locks? Coleman defended her hair choice and also shut down any negative comments people had about dreadlocks.

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When not standing up against racism and naysayers, Coleman has been readying herself for a musical comeback and is producing and starring in her own Disney show, too. In a recent interview with HungerTV, Coleman discussed her new music and career goals.

For Coleman’s second album, the young star said that she wanted it to be about love, which is something she says she finally understands.

“It’s not super deep; it’s all around the ideas of love. Dealing with love for the first time and what that means to me has been a big part of the album. It’s also falling in love with yourself. I think that as you grow older, you have to fall in love with yourself and understand who you are,” Coleman stated.

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Coleman has enlisted the help of some heavy hitters in the music industry, and next year her release will include work from Babyface, Diane Warren and Timbaland.

At 18 years old, Coleman knows what music is being played on the radio, and she doesn’t want to sound like any of it. “I don’t necessarily want to make what’s already on the radio, or what every young girl my age is doing. I want longevity, and if you want a long career, you have to be happy with yourself so you don’t go crazy, and the only way to do that is to be yourself,” Coleman stated.

As far as acting, Coleman is now starring in her own Disney series, K.C. Undercover, as well as producing it. Being at the helm of her own show has given Coleman even more responsibilities and also put her in the spotlight. Last year the actress caught flak when she was cast as Aaliyah in the made-for-TV biopic, and some people questioned not only her acting skills but also her race.

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But in the HungerTV interview, Coleman made it crystal clear for everyone: “I have that pride in knowing that I’m an African American,” Coleman stated.

Coleman’s career, her knowledge of self and the ability to stand up for herself are definitely going to keep her name on everyone’s mind for some time to come.