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Zendaya Covers 'Complex,' Talks 2Pac, Aaliyah Biopic, And LP

"Like Tupac Shakur, I’m a real role model," says the former Disney star.

Adrien Vargas // REVOLT

Former Disney star Zendaya Coleman is gearing for the release of her sophomore album. But in the meantime, she's covering Complex's December/January issue in addition to being all around great.

In her cover story interview, the actress/singer talked about what it means to be a role model, comparing herself to the legendary Tupac Shakur. She also cleared up any misunderstanding regarding her original role in the Aaliyah biopic and talked about her forthcoming yet-titled album, which includes includes contributions from Timbaland, Babyface and Diane Warren.

On being a role model:

"I think it’s a responsibility, but like Tupac Shakur, I’m a real model. Which means: I’m not pretending to be something that I’m not, because like he said, people are going to be disappointed when they find out who you are, because it’s not going to be what you presented to the world. So just keep it real. I’m a good kid and that’s all."

On Miley Cyrus:

A lot of them were forced into being role models and they had to pretend to be something that they didn’t feel matched up with who they were. And that’s because they started really, really young. So you’ve got to realize when you’re really young you don’t know who you are yet. And as soon as you figure it out, you’ve already been forced to become something that you didn’t really know you signed up for. So it’s like, I get it. There’s a lot of pressure, so I completely understand. Everyone has their different ways of learning and growing and finding out who they are, and you can’t fault people for that.

On backing out of Aaliyah biopic:

"I just didn’t like the way things were going down. There were a lot of things that came to my attention that I didn’t know about, about the family and production value. You just assume that things are taken care of when you step onto a project. But when you realize that things are just falling apart, you’re like, 'This is not what I signed up for, this is not what I thought it was. This is not what I think is worthy of her movie.' It really ate me up inside. A lot of people thought that I knew that the family wasn’t involved, and I didn’t. I just auditioned like anyone else and got the job.

On the release of her sophomore album:

There’s no date yet. At this point, I’m trying to, at least for me, perfect everything. I’m a perfectionist. I’m a Virgo, so everything has to be exactly the way I want it. It’s also sticking with your vision. Once you really find that, a lot of people have opinions and you just got to really stay focused.

On working with Timbaland, Diane Warren and Babyface:

"I think part of them having longevity is the fact that they were never afraid to continue to learn from young people. They don’t treat me like I don’t know anything. They treat me like they value my opinions, what I bring to the table, what I think of things, and I think that’s why they’re still around. That’s why people still care about them."

Read the full cover story here.

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