Last week on "Dancing With the Stars, Zendaya and her pro partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, tackled a "stressful" Argentine tango and pretty much nailed it. In posting an overall score of 29, they were awarded the first 10s of the season.
It was yet another in a long line of jaw-dropping performances by Zendaya, an Oakland native, who at 16, is the youngest contestant to ever appear on "DWTS."
Despite her youth -- or maybe because of it -- the lanky Disney Channel star is tearing up the dance floor and has established herself as a leading contender for that gaudy mirror-ball trophy. She recently took some time out to talk about her journey so far.
Q When you talked to us before the season started, you we're kind of skeptical about how well you would do. Were you pulling the wool over our eyes?
A No, I was definitely not trying to fool anyone. I had no clue that I'd be able to do as well as I am. Honestly! It was all so foreign to me. I'm lucky I caught on as well as I have.
Q So does that mean you're surprised by you're success?
A I am and I'm not. I am because it's so new and different -- something I've never done. But I'm not because we've worked so hard at it -- sometimes up to seven hours a day. And practice makes perfect.
Q Speaking of perfect, how excited are you that you and Val posted the first 10s of the season?
A That was amazing. I'm really proud of that. We're a team. We work together, and Val really set the bar high for that dance. I didn't know if I could pull it off.
Q You were quoted as saying that the Argentine tango was really stressful for you. What made it so stressful?
A Val really wanted a lot out of me for that dance. He showed me a video of a professional dancer executing a flip that he wanted me to do. I said, "That's really funny." He said, "No, you're going to do it." Then I said, "Are you crazy?!"
Q It's almost as if he sees something in you that you don't.
A Yeah, if I had my choice, I'd stay on the ground (no flips) at all times. But I guess that wouldn't be as cool looking. And we probably wouldn't get those 10s.
Q You're the youngest dancer of the bunch. Has that made it a little tough to bond with fellow cast members?
A I'm kind of beyond my years anyway. It's funny: On this show, the adults are the kids. They do goofy things and pull a lot of pranks. Sometimes, I'm the grown-up.
Q You say you're beyond your years. And, at 16, you've accomplished a lot. Do you ever feel like you're growing up a little too fast?
A I think I've always been a bit of an old soul. At the age of 4, I thought I was an adult. I act a little immature and like a kid when I want to be. But basically, this is my version of childhood and I'm enjoying it a lot.
Q It's been fun watching your parents get all excited and cheer you on. Are they enjoying this as much as you?
A My parents are amazing. They've been there every week, partially because I'm a minor and they have to be. But they also want to be. I love seeing them cheer and go crazy. It's really sweet.
Q So which one of them do you get your dance talent from?
A It depends on which one you talk to. I don't want to single one out because I rely on them to drive me places. So I'll plead the fifth on that one.
Q OK, that's fair. But where do you get that height from?
A That's definitely my mom. She's 6-4. (Zendaya is 5-11). ... Sometimes the height makes things harder for me and Val. We almost come eye-to-eye, and when I'm in heels, he's shorter than me. We have to figure out ways to work around that.
Q You've said that one of the reasons you wanted to do this show is because your grandma Daphne in Danville is such a huge "Dancing With the Stars" fan. How has she handled all this?
A My grandma is freaking out! She's extremely excited. Obviously, she'd be excited about anything I'm involved with because she's my grandma. But she's having so much fun doing her viewing parties and cute little grandma stuff.
dancing with the stars
When; 8 p.m. Monday