Before she was just Zendaya, she was Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman. But who are the folks who blessed her with her birth name? The Disney teenybopper-turned-serious actress has a wonderfully supportive mother and father to thank for her successful career. And as a good kid, she repays their efforts by being fiercely protective of them. Find out what we know about Zendaya’s parents and the relationship they have with their superstar daughter.
Zendaya Got Her Start On Disney Channel
Zendaya, 24, was a child model and dancer before earning her first big acting role on the Disney Channel sitcom Shake it Up. The show, which also co-starred Bella Thorne, ended in 2013 after three seasons. Zendaya’s popularity with tweens led to a second project with the network, the spy comedy K.C. Undercover. At 19, she not only played the lead but served as a producer on the series.
You might wonder how she managed to earn production credits at such a young age. Zendaya grew up in the theater world and had invaluable access to every facet of the business. Check out a 2014 video titled “This is Who I Am” below. In it, the actress revisits her alma mater, Oakland School for the Arts; she also talks about the joy of watching behind-the-scenes action at the California Shakespeare Theater, where her mother worked.
“Zendaya had a professional perspective on theater and Shakespeare very early,” said her father.
“She gravitated to backstage,” added her mom.
Even before K.C. Undercover ended in 2018, Zendaya began to score some major film roles. The first was 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming (which led to a relationship with co-star Tom Holland). She earned positive reviews for her role in the musical The Greatest Showman. If that’s not enough, she also contributed original music for the soundtrack.
But it was Zendaya’s role as Rue in the HBO series Euphoria that made her next-level famous. The part earned her an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, making her the youngest performer in history to receive the award.
Who Are Zendaya’s Parents?
Zendaya’s father is Kazembe Ajamu Coleman. We love that his Twitter handle is @Zendayas_Dad, but don’t expect to get any intel on him via social media. What little we know of him—like the fact that he was a teacher—comes from various interviews with his daughter.
For instance, she shared a few tidbits in a 2014 Us listicle titled “25 Things You Didn’t Know About Me.” Zendaya revealed that Coleman plays drums (“I used to fall asleep next to him when he played”), didn’t let Zendaya date until she was 16, and wanted her to be the first woman in the NBA.
Two years later, Zendaya posted a loving Father’s Day tribute to Coleman on Instagram.
“Happy Father’s Day to my OG…” she wrote in the caption. “Thank you for your unconditional love, your unwavering strength, your protection, and your wisdom, even when I think I know everything. I’m so thankful to have you as a father.”
Zendaya’s mom is Claire Stoermer. According to an interview with Disney Channel, she was a house manager at the California Shakespeare Theater. And like Coleman, she was also a teacher.
“Growing up, I watched my mom teach in the heart of Oakland, California, at inner-city schools that were always underfunded,” Zendaya told Teen Vogue in 2016. “My mom went above and beyond, working constantly to open her students’ eyes to an education that could lift them far beyond their current circumstances.”
The actress even revealed in a 2011 tweet that Stoermer’s commitment kept them apart during the filming of Shake it Up.
Stoermer’s efforts were appreciated beyond her immediate family. In 2009, she was honored by Bank of America for being a “Local Hero.” As part of a Neighborhood Excellence Initiative, she received a $5,000 donation made in her name. Stoermer chose the Shakespeare Theater’s Artistic Learning programs as her beneficiary.
Stoermer currently runs Kizzmet, a handmade jewelry line that her daughter is more than happy to plug for her:
Zendaya is Coleman and Stoermer’s only child, but she certainly didn’t grow up in a small family—get the details of her extended clan here.
Zendaya Is Very Protective Of Her Parents And Family
Leave it to nasty trolls to hate on Zendaya’s parents for no good reason. Over the years, a few social media users have prioritized Coleman and Stoermer’s looks overs their excellent parenting skills.
And their child was not someone to take things lying down. In 2015, after a Twitter user posted an old photo of Zendaya with her parents, commenters unleashed some nasty remarks. The actress came back with a thoughtful, calm response.
“While you’re so concerned about what my parents look like, please know that these are two of the most selfless people in the world,” she wrote. “They have chosen to spend their entire life, not worried about trivial things such as looks and insulting people’s parents on Twitter, but instead became educators who have dedicate[d] their lives to teaching, cultivating and filling young shallow mines. (One of the most important yet underpaid jobs we have).”
Read the entire reply below:
Zendaya Credits Her Parents For Her Success
Zendaya doesn’t just owe her parents for building a solid foundation and keeping her grounded; they also maintain the groundwork they laid. Coleman is currently her manager and oversees her daily life, right down to her dating adventures.
“I gotta give it up to my parents,” Zendaya told Ellen DeGeneres in 2016. “I’m really lucky to have the parents that I have, and they just have always instilled in me those core values that I think I have to carry with me through everything.”
“I have that barrier and that protection around me which I am very appreciative of and thankful of,” she continued. “A lot of people don’t have that.”
In 2013, Coleman spoke about parenting and managing his daughter with the Wall Street Journal.
“We don’t know how long we’re going to be there for our children,” he said. “So you want your children to be independent of you and to make their own choices—to be informed so that they can make the right choices.”
Coleman said he wanted to take the opposite approach of stage mothers he’s observed through the years.
“This industry wants to fall in love with your child… [not] a busybody mouthy parent that’s in the way. So I let Zendaya speak for herself.”
For more from the interview, check out the video below:
Are Zendaya’s Parents Still Together?
Coleman and Stoermer’s successful parenting is even more impressive when you learn that they’ve been divorced for years. According to BET, the couple married when Zendaya was 12 and filed for divorce eight years later. However, their split looks nothing less than amicable. Zendaya is also happy to let you know that, too:
Rather than commenting on their appearance, critics could benefit from taking notes on how they raised such a talented, down-to-earth girl.