Career-wise, Zendaya has pretty much done it all. On top of starring in and producing one of Disney Channel’s biggest shows ever, K.C. Undercover, Z has landed roles in two huge films (Spider-Man: Homecoming and The Greatest Showman on Earth), along with inking a record deal, designing her own fashion line, and starting her own Zendaya app. Whew!
But even as amazing opportunities have come her way, Z has always spoken out on behalf of others, whether she’s raising awareness of the water crisis in Michigan and the Black Lives Matter movement, or marching on Washington for women’s equality.
So in a very Zendaya move, she’s now partnering with Verizon’s #WeNeedMore campaign to bring technology and immersive hands-on learning to students in underserved communities across the country. The hope is that a more diverse wave of students will enter STEM fields and build brighter futures for themselves — and the world.
Seventeen.com sat for a Q&A with Zendaya to learn more about her personal connection to the campaign — and how she’s using technology to shine a light on issues that matter most to her.
What were your main reasons for getting involved with the #WeNeedMore campaign?
It’s something that I directly I connect to because it deals with children, education and technology. It’s something that my mother — a teacher who served in an underprivileged school with very little funding or resources for technology — did on her own. I really wish there had been a program like this when she was teaching in that school, because there are so many kids in need.
What makes the #WeNeedMore campaign special?
A lot of people glamorize being famous — an athlete or a singer. And that’s awesome and if you want to do that, sure. But a lot of kids don’t realize there are other options — that it’s possible for them to be an engineer or a sound technician. There are a gazillion different jobs out that the are creative, interesting, and different, and not every kid has to follow what they see in the media as cool jobs. Cool jobs, to me, are very different. So this is just opening their eyes and allowing these young people to have access to these resources so that they can see themselves in a different light.
How will you be working with Verizon to help students in underserved schools?
What they’re doing is getting technology into those schools. It’s a program that allows kids to have it in their hands so they explore it, use it, touch it in a tangible way. It’s a different, more creative way of learning — because the same way doesn’t always work for everyone. When my mother was teaching, she didn’t have a program like this. She implemented and brought tech into her school on her own, and it really helped her students. It helped them to learn how to use movie-editing software and put together projects in ways beyond writing an essay. There are so many ways to educate and to learn in this era, and we should take advantage of that.
Read Zendaya’s complete interview on Seventeen.