Updated 04:13 PM EST, Sun, Jan 23, 2022

Zendaya on Influencing Other Teenagers: ‘I Fully Accept That Responsibility’

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Zendaya is one of Time magazine's 30 Most Influential Teens of 2015. The 19-year-old made headlines earlier this year when she responded gracefully towards Giuliana Rancic's offensive remarks about her deadlocks. She also slammed magazines for airbrushing her photos and shared unretouched versions of her magazine photoshoots on her Instagram page.

In addition, Mattel unveiled a custom Barbie modeled after Zendaya's look at this year's Academy Awards. The limited edition doll encourages girls to "raise their voices," Entertainment Weekly wrote.

In her extended interview with Time, the "Shake It Up" star talked about influencing teenagers and how she handles being a role model. According to the actress' interview, young people are important for her and she thinks that "they have to have someone to look up to."

"I was one of those people put in that position, and that became my role . . . I do not want to take advantage of it or annihilate it or take it for granted," Zendaya told Time.

She continued, "When you're put in a position to really affect young people who are going to run the world one day, if you're able to be in their life at a young age and make a positive impact, I think that's a beautiful thing . . . I think it's okay to grow up and express yourself and be edgier and do all that. I think it's possible to do it without completely annihilating a whole sector of your fanbase."

Zendaya mentioned Michael Jackson and Beyoncé as her earliest role models, according to Time. She admires Jackson's talents and stellar career, and the fact that he never did cuss in his songs. Zendaya also noted that she is not ashamed of being a Disney Channel star, adding that when it comes to her career, she plans to transition slowly and allow her fans to grow with her.

"I think I pretty much knew what I signed up for. But I wasn't forced to do anything," the "Zapped" actress said of being a role model, as quoted by Time. "It's a gift, it's a blessing, to be that person for a lot of people. It's not going to be easy, I fully accept that responsibility. I'm not pretending to be someone that I'm not in the hopes that people will like me. I'm a real model. I keep it real, I do what Zendaya does, I do what Zendaya feels right doing. If you pretend to be a role, one day that role is going to break."

Zendaya covers the December 2015 issue of Flare magazine, in which she discussed feminism and how "Hannah Montana" inspired her to be a performer, Billboard reported.

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