Successful child stars have a notoriously difficult time translating that initial success into a full-fledged adult career. But Zendaya has clearly found her way. Speaking to Variety, the 23-year-old said of starring in Disney‘s Shake It Up alongside Bella Thorne and then in K.C. Undercover: “I had just been doing Disney Channel for so long. I started when I was 13 years old. By the time I was 17, I had a better understanding and focus of what I wanted. A lot of times in this industry, it’s about recognizing your power and not selling yourself short. It’s kind of like that corny thing of 'know your worth.'”

“It’s knowing what you can bring to the table,” she added, “and I knew that I had more to offer in a more professional capacity.”

Zendaya said she “wanted to learn what it was like to do all that stuff behind the scenes” and ultimately helped produce K.C. She said that she hopes to user her know-how to help lift up others: “My hope is, the more that I’m able to do the behind-the-scenes stuff, the more voices I can uplift that aren’t necessarily mine.”

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, she said that she has learned to overcome her fears: ” Being a young Disney actor, that's one level, being a young Black woman is one level, and then being very hard on myself is another level. It's also just a personal fear. I want to do a good job, and sometimes that can cause you to be fearful of things. But I will say that there's something that happens when a special character comes along, for me at least, and those fears melt away,” she said of her complex Euphoria character Rue, a teen struggling with drug addiction. “… But now, I'm excited to go back because the motivation is to work harder and become a better actress. I just want to get better.”