Tom Cruise hung off the Burj Khalifa last time he came through here. Are you planning to do anything similar?
Bella: What? Uh – no way! I’m even a bit scared of going up there in the lift. I saw the film and it was awesome – but those scenes where he’s hanging off the top of the building? Eek! The man is brave – much braver than me. We will ride on a camel though.
How do you feel about Justin Bieber being a fan of yours? And what’s he like in the flesh?
Bella: Justin Bieber? Really? Oh – I didn’t know that! It’s weird considering we are actually fans of his. Did you know that Zendaya?
Zendaya: No. But he’s pretty cute in person. Really.
High school in the US is always depicted as being very cool and exciting. What’s it really like?
Bella: I never went to public school so I can’t really comment, but I’m pretty sure they glam it up for the cameras.
Zendaya: Of course they do! I went to public school all the way through – and school’s school, whichever way you look at it. Everybody has their normal. We still have to do math and keep up with homework. It’s as much work as it is play – and no different to anywhere else.
What’s the naughtiest thing you’ve ever done at school?
Bella: Hand on heart, I’ve never in my life been sent to the principal’s office. I’ve generally been a really good girl. I wasn’t ever someone who wanted to rebel against the rules, and I always do my homework.
Zendaya: Same here, I have to say I’m a total goody-two-shoes. I wasn’t one of the super-popular it-girls at school either. I do my best to get on with everyone, but I’m pretty quiet actually, and not an extrovert at all.
So the message is?
Zendaya: Be good at school, work hard, respect your teachers and above all be nice to everyone.
How do you juggle school and making a hit TV show?
Zendaya: With a lot of hard work! Both my parents are teachers, so I’ve grown up surrounded by influences that always stress the importance of working hard at school and passing your exams. For me, school comes first – even before Shake It Up!
Bella: When we’re working on the series, we have a tutor who takes us for five hours of classes a day, and you do that on top of filming. It can get pretty intense. There’s very little time for anything else.
Are you going to continue dancing after Shake It Up!?
Zendaya: Of course! Dancing and singing have been part of my life ever since I was tiny. I was the kind of kid who was always singing in her bedroom and practicing dance routines. Now that I get to share it with so many people, it’s such a massive privilege. I never thought I would be able to do anything like that, so Shake It Up! is a dream come true. In five years time, of course, I’d like to have a couple of Grammys under my belt [laughs]. Seriously though, I’d like to work with children and maybe pursue something in psychology.
Bella, rumour has it that you have a pet wolf….
Yes. This is true. His name is Voodoo, and he’s 75 per cent wolf and 25 per cent husky. He is the most adorable, extraordinary pet. He’s very intuitive and sensitive.
Bella: He is – honestly! [looks bemused]
Zendaya: You have a pet wolf. Of course you have to justify it.
Bella: Well, Voodoo is very intelligent and will do anything for sweeties and cookies. He often knocks you right over for them. It’s hilarious!
Zendaya, we’ve been told your name means ‘to give thanks’ in Shona. What language is that?
My dad is African American and is very proud of his heritage, so he wanted my name to be derived from the region his ancestors originated from. Actually, Zendaya is not an exact translation – I think it should start with an ‘s’. But my dad loves words beginning with the letter ‘Z’ so he improvised. Dads, eh?
Tell us about school dinners in the US. Are they really as awful as we hear?
Zendaya: In general, yes. When I went to high school the food was dreadful – really stodgy and unappetizing. I always took packed lunch.
Bella: My school had good food, so I’d take Zendaya’s word for it.