There’s nothing more important than representation on television — and that notion has been picking up a lot of steam lately, especially after #OscarsSoWhite helped amplify a much-needed conversation. Stars such as Lupita Nyong’o and Gina Rodriguez have spoken out about the necessity for representation on all sorts of screens — and now, Zendaya is weighing in on what her presence on the Disney Channel means to her.
In a recent interview with Marie Claire, she said that “A big reason why I wanted to come back to Disney is because I saw a lack of diversity on the channel. To see a black family, to see a young girl with these adorable Afro puffs … little things like that are so important.”
It’s true that, as a major star, she could easily opt to graduate from the House of Mouse if she wanted to. She even landed a role in the next Spider-Man movie, so it’s clear that she’s beginning to diversify her credits away from the shows that helped launch her career. But to her younger fans, she is one of the few recognizable faces of color on a channel that predominantly features white stars. That she is not only on a show, but her own show, is notable — and necessary.
Hopefully, Zendaya’s presence is letting executives know that shows with diverse casts are important and successful, and helps pave the way for more.