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‘I’m Doing It My Own Way': A Very Sweet, Milkshake-Filled Afternoon with Zendaya

Zendaya "Something New" Fan Event
Michael Loccisano, Getty Images

If someone were to ask me what Zendaya is best known for, it wouldn’t be easy to come up with a definitive answer…because there isn’t just one, really.

Right at this very moment, Zendaya is the producer and lead actress of a Disney Channel series (K.C. Undercover, the second season launches in March), a talented singer (her latest single, the TLC-sampling “Something New,” dropped earlier this month ahead of her upcoming second studio album), an outspoken advocate of empowerment and frequent headline-maker thanks to her always insightful views on identity, a philanthropist, the latest COVERGIRL, a red carpet fixture and a young style icon in the making. She’s also just 19 years old.

And, as I learned earlier today, she happens to be a pretty great host, too.

In what was quite literally a treat for her fans, Zendaya threw a surprise milkshake-filled party at Black Tap in the Meatpacking District in New York City this afternoon (February 26), where her summery new single pleasantly bopped on loop in the background as she happily met and took photos with everyone inside the packed restaurant.

But before the Fruity Pebbles, gummy bear and rainbow sour belt-coated desserts came flowing in front of our faces (seriously…super delicious, but a severe sugar crash in a soda shop glass), Zendaya took time to talk to journalists about her latest career moves, choosing her often highly debated hairstyles for the red carpet (“a lot of the hairstyles I wear, the inspirations are Cher, [David] Bowie…iconic moments of the past, Diana Ross“), make-up tips (“take off your makeup before bed — that is a must“), her position as a role model for her young fans — and even her stance on the #FreeKesha situation.

“My heart goes out. It’s heartbreaking,” she explained to Billboard of Kesha’s ongoing legal battle. “I could never imagine going through something like that. Fortunately, it’s never happened to me. I’m glad that conversation is happening and that a light is being shown on the issue that she’s having. It’s beautiful to see all this love by all these people that are surrounding her with kindness and support…I think that’s what we need to do.”

As a child star keenly aware of the pressures of the industry, Zendaya’s also braced herself for the next phase of her life in entertainment as an adult. And while she told me that she’s never “really been able to sit down and have a conversation” with any fellow Disney Channel alumni who have successfully made the transition, she’s still learning from afar.

“You can see people’s trials, tribulations, successes, victories and you can learn from them, she said. “You can learn from people’s mistakes — from what they did wrong and what they did right. I feel like that, in a sense, allows me to avoid the problems that maybe they had to face.”

“For me, I’m doing it my own way,” she continued. “I want to be able to maintain that Disney essence. To me, I think it’s a blessing to be on the Disney Channel because I get to create positive programming for young people, and I get to decide as a producer how I can positively affect those young people. I can bring diversity to the channel. I can allow for representation and things like that. So that, to me, is an exciting thing, and I enjoy that.”

As she continues to toe the line between her relationship with Disney and her evolving (and increasingly mature) career in music and fashion, Zendaya’s finding all sorts of fans — and, uh, confusing some of them.

“It’s kind of like balancing two careers at one time,” she explaind. “There’s some people on my Instagram that are like ‘Oh, she looks like that chick from Shake It Up back in the day.’ Some people don’t even know I’m the same person, which is kind of cool!”

“Just keep all the pots burnin’,” she said. “Keep ’em burning. Some people knew me from when I was little…but now I’m grown.”

And that’s true. She certainly is grown…but not too grown for a milkshake.

“Something New” is out now.

More milkshake moments with @Zendaya. #SomethingNewNYC

A photo posted by PopCrush (@popcrush) on

Milkshakes and conversation with @Zendaya.

A photo posted by PopCrush (@popcrush) on

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