A closer look at Zendaya’s ethnicity and parents

At 24 years old, Zendaya has achieved more than what most Hollywood actors will achieve in their entire careers. Yet, there’s a feeling that we are yet to see half of what Zendaya has to offer – she seems to have limitless potential and boundless talent. Zendaya is a star now and a star of the future. 

The buzz surrounding Zendaya has increased following the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home and the upcoming premiere of Euphoria season 2. 

A younger Zendaya used to appear at events arm-in-arm with her parents. She prefers solo red carpet appearances now, but she maintains a close bond with her mom and dad. Let’s look a closer look at Zendaya’s ethnicity and parents. 

Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman was born on 1st September 1996 in Oakland, California, to Kazembe Ajamu Coleman and Claire Stoermer. Maree has five older half-siblings from her dad’s previous marriage. 

Kazembe Ajamu Coleman is African-American with roots in Nigeria and Arkansas. He was born Samuel David Coleman but swapped his name for Kazembe Ajamu in honor of his African heritage. 

“My father took the steps to be in touch with his roots and where he comes from,” Zendaya told Complex. “He took a DNA test and reclaimed his African name.”

Claire Stoermer hails from Germany and Scotland. “My mother’s proud of where she’s from, and her history, and her past, and same with my dad,” Zendaya said in a YouTube video for Immigrant Heritage Month. 

Zendaya is a combination of African and Caucasian ethnicity. Her name Zendaya draws from a Shona word that means ‘to give thanks.’ Her middle name is French, but with African spelling. Zendaya said that her name celebrates her diverse roots:

“I get a mixture of all the worlds. I have my African first name, I have a middle name that is [my mom’s] middle name, which is French, but we did it African spelling, so it’s literally me in a name. And then you have Stoermer, and then you have Coleman. I literally have, like, a timeline in history in my name.”

Maree wishes that more young people could embrace and share their roots. “I just want young people to embrace where they come from, be proud of it and share their family’s history,” Zendaya told Us Weekly. “This country was built on beautiful stories of immigrant heritage.”

Growing up biracial in America can be difficult, but Zendaya had a relatively easy time of it. She did feel a bit out of place at a white private school in Oakland Hills, but she never struggled with her identity, thanks a lot to her parents. 

“It’s really hard to see color because I’m in the gray area,” Zendaya told Complex. “I had to learn about both sides of myself and be really proud of and educated in both. I think that’s why I’m comfortable with myself and can speak on certain issues because I’ve taken the time, or my parents have taken the time, to teach me who I am.”

Zendaya’s pride in her roots sometimes appears in her fashion choices. She once wore dreadlocks to the Oscars, attracting criticism from reporter Giuliana Rancic, who said that Maree probably smelled like weed or patchouli weed.

Maree responded via Instagram, referring to Rancic’s remarks as offensive and ignorant. Zendaya’s fiery response drew praise from many people. “There were so many women, of all races, that came up to me and were like, ‘I really love what you said,’” Zendaya revealed.

Dreadlocks run in Zendaya’s family, with her brothers and father sporting dreadlocks at various points in their lives. Zendaya stated that she wants her nieces and nephews to draw from her and respond to anyone questioning their hair:

“My little nieces have curly hair. And if they were to have someone say something demeaning about what they hold dear to them, then I would want them to at least have the pride within themselves to come up with a response that made sense and that they were proud of.”

Zendaya has gone beyond embracing her ethnicity to researching the needs of her people in Africa. She’s done plenty of charity work as part of her mission to help the Africans:

“Being a young African-American woman, it’s important to know where you come from. And I think there’s a big disconnect with realizing that we’re from Africa and knowing what’s actually happening there and having a connection.”

Zendaya looked up to her mom from a young age. Maree told Teen Vogue that her mother’s enthusiastic teaching at California Shakespeare Theatre inspired her love for art. Zendaya said:

“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.”

Claire Stoermer also helped Zendaya to have confidence in her natural beauty. Zendaya’s mom achieved this goal inadvertently by declining to wear makeup. 

“My beauty icons are the women in my life,” Zendaya told Vanity Fair. “My mom didn’t wear makeup; I don’t think she knew that, to me, it was empowering that she didn’t care.” 

Zendaya’s mom became more open to the idea of makeup when she hit 50. “She became more confident and got more in touch with who she was at 50,” Maree told Instyle

Beauty for Zendaya goes beyond bodily appearance. She leaped to her parents’ defense when a netizen referred to them as ugly. Zendaya posted a respectful yet stinging response alongside a picture of herself alongside Ajamu and Claire. The statement read:

“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. 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 dedicated their lives to teaching, cultivating and filling young, shallow, minds.”