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Zendaya Coleman is hoping to really "Shake It Up" at this year's D23 EXPO

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Zendaya Coleman is hoping to really "Shake It Up" at this year's D23 EXPO

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In the language of the Shona (i.e. the native people of Zimbabwe and southern Zambia), the name "Zendaya" means "to give thanks."

This name is entirely appropriate in Zendaya Coleman's case. Given that you'd be hard-pressed to find a more thankful young lady than this talented 14-year-old, who currently co-stars in that Disney Channel hit series, "Shake It Up."

"This has all happened so fast. Just two years ago, I remember watching 'Hannah Montana' and thinking about how great it would be if someday I got the chance to do something that. To sing and dance on television," Zendaya recalled late last week when we spoke on the phone.


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Mind you, it wasn't like she just sat around waiting for someone at Disney to discover her. Zendaya started learning her craft early, appearing in stage productions like "Twelfth Night" & "As You Like It" with the California Shakespeare Theater. And while she attended Oakland's School for the Arts, Zendaya also performed in musicals like "Once on This Island" and "Caroline, Or Change."

"I still use a lot of what I learned back then while working on 'Shake It up,' Ms. Coleman continued. "Like how to get a laugh by using my body. Doing all of those stage shows is what taught me how to do physical comedy. That's also where I learned the importance of doing the best that you possibly can at each & every audition."

Of course, when it came time to audition for a new pilot that the Disney Channel was considering, it took more than talent for Zendaya to finally land the role of Rocky Blue. Given that more than 200 girls were considered for the lead roles in what was then known as "Dance, Dance Chicago," it took a lot of patience & perseverance for her to get through that lengthy audition process.


Zendaya Coleman (L) and Bella Thorne from Disney
Channel's "Shake It Up." Photo by Craig Sjodin.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights
reserved

"You see, I originally went in to read for the role of CeCe. Then they called me back in to read for Rocky. Then they paired me with lots of other girls. But once I read with Bella (Thorne, the actress who plays CeCe Jones on 'Shake It Up') ...," Zendaya remembered. "Well, that was the first time that they had me dance with another girl. And as soon as they saw Bella and I move together, they must have liked what they saw. Because we then got the parts."

So what's it like to actually shoot an episode of "Shake It Up," the first dance-driven Disney Channel series. What Zendaya described is a work schedule that sounds more like Carol Burnett's old variety show than your standard sitcom.

"Our work week starts with a table read of that week's script. Once that's done, after we finish all of our school work, it's then time to begin dance rehearsal," Ms. Coleman explained. "Then the rest of the week, if we're not memorizing our lines, we're trying to trying to learn our dance steps. We're talking about one to three hours of dance rehearsal every day. Which get kind of tough sometimes."


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

But clearly all of this hard work has paid off, given how popular "Shake It Up" has proven to be with Disney Channel viewers since this show initially debuted back in November of 2010. And Disney being Disney, the Company moved quickly to capitalize on "SIU" 's success by first renewing this sitcom for a second season in March of 2011. Not to mention producing a "Shake It Up" soundtrack album, which hit store shelves last month. As well as that D-signed clothing collection which Target just began selling that draws its inspiration from all of the outfits that Rocky & CeCe wear on "Shake It Up."

So what's it like to have all this going on, plus have your very own music video - "Watch Me" - in heavy rotation on the Disney Channel? Not to mention the "Shake It Up" TV movie that's supposedly already in development? And "Make Your Mark: Ultimate Dance Off - 'Shake It Up' edition," the Disney Channel's first-ever talent competition aimed exclusively at  kids & tweens,? To be honest, Zendaya is kind of having some trouble taking this all in.

"You have to understand that we're right now in the middle of shooting the second season of 'Shake It Up.' So that's really what I'm concentrating on now. Making sure that those show are just as good as they could possibly be," Ms. Coleman said. "But then sometimes I'll catch the 'Watch Me' video on the Disney Channel. Or realize that the season finale of 'Shake It up' airs at the end of this month and that Season 2 starts in later September. And it's just hard to absorb that all of this has happened so fast. That I now get to be part of stuff like this."


(L to R) Adam Irigoyen as Duece, Roshon Fegan as Ty Blue, Bella Thorne as CeCe Jones,
Davis Cleveland as Flynn Jones, Zendaya Coleman as Rocky Blue, Kenton Duty as
Gunther and Caroline Sunshine as Tinka. Photo by Craig Sjodin. Copyright
Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Which bring me to what Zendaya will be doing this coming Sunday between 2:30 - 4 p.m. Which is when she and the rest of the cast of "Shake It Up" will be onstage at the Anaheim Arena performing for thousands of Disney Channel fans at this year's D23 EXPO. Given what happened back in 2009 when the cast of Disney's "Wizards of Waverly Place" appeared in the Anaheim Arena (Disney Channel fans got so excited when they got to see Selena Gomez & her sitcom family up-close at this D23 event, the screaming frenzy reached almost Beatles-like decibel levels), I asked Ms. Coleman if she's ready to appear in front of a crazed crowd of that size.

"I'm not worried about the size of the crowd or how crazy they may be. I'm just grateful that these 'Shake It Up' fans are willing to come out to the D23 EXPO and see us. Which is why I and the rest of the cast are going to work as hard as we can to make sure that we deliver the best possible performance for these people," Zendaya stated.

Ms. Coleman and the cast of "Shake It Up" will also be doing a photo op in the foyer area of the Anaheim Arena just prior to their on-stage performance on  Sunday. Not to mention a cast signing from 4 to 6 p.m. that same day. Which sounded like a pretty tough schedule, at least to me. But Zendaya disagreed.


Zendaya poses with Disney Channel fans last month at the Americana at Brand in Glendale
at the kick-off of a five-city talent search for "Make Your Mark: Ultimate Dance Off - 'Shake
It Up' edition." Photo by Todd Wawrychuk. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

"We really owe to our fans to make ourselves available at events, to sign the autographs, to pose for pictures. If it weren't for them, 'Shake It Up' wouldn't be as successful as it is. Which is why I'm happy to take part in this year's D23 EXPO," she concluded.

You see what I'm saying? "Zendaya" is a very fitting name for this talented young lady.

For further information where and when Zendaya & the rest of the cast of "Shake It Up" will be appearing this coming Sunday, be sure and check out the D23 EXPO's master schedule at the Official Disney Fan Club's website.

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  • Since you know everything about Disney should we anticipate an article on The Lone Ranger thing soon?

  • hi  zendaya could you follow me on twitter @LewisHarding1 it would mean sooo much to me!

  • <3 I love Zendaya <3

  • I love Shake it up and I love Bella and Zendaya !! :D

  • I love Bella and Zendaya both they have swag.

  • Hey, guys --

    I just had to delete a post in here that featured someone's phone number. Given that -- when you share that sort of information on the Web ... Well, you don't know who will wind up calling you. Which is why we don't encourage those sorts of postings here on JHM's discussion boards. More to the point, any future postings that feature home phone or cell phone numbers will be deleted as well.

    Just a word to the wise, okay?

    j

  • I LOVE YOU ZENDAYA !

  • Hello i love you zendaya!

  • Hi, I love Zendaya and bella sooo much. And I love "Shake it up" And I reaily reaily like the dance!!!!! =D

  • zendaya you I'm your fan and beautiful you can aconpanha me on twitter and @ Orlean 2013 I'm your big fan your progam assistor beautiful every day

  • Hey u guys its me, Zendaya! Thx for all the great comments. Luv you guys and don't forget to smile!!!!!

  • HI

    ZENDAYA COIEMAN  ANGELA TUALA LIKE  AND  SOME FUN TIME GOOD AND SOIME   FAMIIY  AND

  • i love zendaya she"s # 1

  • zendaya  u r my favorite charectar in shake it up

  • zendaya  ur better than bella thone u rock ur the best dancer i have ever seen

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