From the moment I saw her on “Shake It Up!,” I admired the main character Rocky Bleu. The depiction of a creative smart black girl identified strongly with my nine-year-old self. I identified with the young black female who was both smart and innovative. For an adolescent black girl full of imagination, who had left all her friends to switch schools and join an accelerated learning program, to see it was possible to pursue both academic and creative ambitions simultaneously was an eye-opener. My admiration for Rocky Bleu became that for the actress who portrayed her, Zendaya.
As I grew, my appreciation for Zendaya grew as well. I admired Zendaya, the ambitious multifaceted young black woman. I admired Zendaya the model, Zendaya the Emmy-award-winning actress, the singer, the dancer, the designer, the producer, the philanthropist. I admired how she led by example and refused to relegate herself to one role.
Beyond contributing simply to modern pop culture with her award- winning movie and television performances, with her multifaceted platform, Zendaya has supported voting and underserved communities.
She encourages me to work harder and dream bigger. She uses her platform to motivate change and bring attention to important issues, and many of her philanthropic endeavors align with my personal interests.
Following her example, I also strove to be multifaceted. I encouraged others to vote just as she did, through a voter registration drive as the President of Henry Clay Young Democrats. I supported underserved communities just as she does through food and clothes drives partnering with the Ronald McDonald House, Chrysalis House, and the Arbor House through my active involvement with Jack and Jill of America Inc. and both the GEMS and Debutante Programs through Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Now, as I look to my future, I am once more inspired by Zendaya. Ever marching to the beat of her drum and forging her own path, I resolve to do the same. Zendaya taught me to cultivate each facet of my identity, to develop all sides of myself to become a well- rounded individual. I will continue to do so as I study both genetics and the performing arts to become the creative yet academic force that Rocky Bleu demonstrated the potential to be. I aspire to become a role model that young black girls will look up to, just as the indomitable Zendaya is to me.