Zendaya In Conversation With Michelle
Teen Vogue|December 2016
Zendaya In Conversation With Michelle

As Michelle Obama prepares for her White House exit, Zendaya picks her brain on how we can join her next big mission: to help educate 62 million more girls around the world.

I first met Michelle Obama at the White House Easter Egg Roll in 2011, when I was 15. I was obviously nervous but was immediately put at ease when she gave me and my mom a big hug and we all instantly bonded over our height. “Oh, we like tall girls here,” she said, and that’s when I knew: We have the dopest First Lady ever.

When Mrs. Obama reached out to me last year and asked me to be part of the “This Is for My Girls” track, I immediately agreed. The song supports Let Girls Learn, a United States government initiative that she and the President launched to ensure that adolescent girls around the globe have access to the education they deserve. To be honest, I would have agreed to do anything for Mrs. Obama, but as the daughter of two teachers, learning happens to be something that really hits home for me.

Growing up, I watched my mom teach in the heart of Oakland, California, at inner-city schools that were always underfunded. 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. She would introduce them to the arts, guide them through the language of Shakespeare, and show them the wonders of nature outside city life—all things that they wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. Watching her was magical; it instilled within me a true appreciation of and devotion to the importance of education. If I wasn’t in entertainment, I’d be a teacher in a heartbeat—guaranteed!

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December 2016