Zendaya Coleman, 17 -- star of The Disney Channel sitcom "Shake It Up" and runner-up on ABC's "Dancing With The Stars" earlier this year -- was in Charlotte last weekend for what would have been a dream weekend for any hardcore Carolina Panthers fan.
She got to hang out with Cam Newton:
She got to hang out with the TopCats:
She got to sing the National Anthem before Sunday's game:
Then, she got to watch the Panthers beat the Rams, 30-15, from a luxury box.
She scored the gig through a family friend, George Hughes of Monroe, whom she refers to as an uncle. "
He knew people (with the Panthers), and they were really interested in me doing theN
nthem. I was like, 'Uhh, YEAH! Of course!' I was very excited."
Originally from Oakland, Zendaya says her heart is with the Raiders (she's also performed the anthem before a game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. But she readily admits she is a fair-weather fan: " Honestly for me, I'm not gonna lie -- it's whoever's the nicest to me when I go there," says the pop star, who has also performed before Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Dodgers games. "And everyone was very, very nice in Charlotte. ... So they are now (a favorite)."
Zendaya spoke to a few members of the media during a private meet-and-greet event Monday evening at the offices of BNR Records, an independent record label on Trade Street in uptown Charlotte.
On her debut album, "Zendaya," out since Sept. 17: "I wanted to create something that wasn't going to be so expected. Of course, you expect me to do bubblegum pop, because that's the world I come from, which is Disney. But I wanted to do something that was more representational of who I am. ... I feel like not a lot of people were doing rhythmic pop, which is pop music but infused with a more urban, R&B or hip-hop feel. I wanted to cross over between urban markets and mainstream ... and still be good for everyone to listen to, and still positive for the kids. The best artists of all-time, their music's clean. You don't have to cuss to make good songs."
On her key musical influences:
"Michael Jackson... (He) was a true artist, and he knew his music through and through. He wasn't afraid to be Mike. He's the only person that could make white socks, loafers and sparkly gloves and a sequin shirt he got from his mom's closet a trend. I love Beyonce, performance-wise. Her work ethic -- you can just tell the dedication and passion she has for what she does. And a big inspiration was Aaliyah, because her vocal quality is very soft, so I was able to connect with that. Also I liked her style. She had that tomboy-girly thing going on."
On Disney Chan nel alum Miley Cyrus: " I think she's trying to reinvent herself and become a new artist. I am just inventing myself. I'm figuring out who I want to be (at a) younger (age) so that I can just grow with my fans and mature with my fans, rather than all of a sudden deciding to switch it up. ... I applaud Miley for being herself, and I think it's beautiful that she's now having the experience to be creative and do her own thing. Just let her do that, and parents be good parents and teach your children what not to do. That's all I have to say about that."
Advice for kids who want to be famous: " ' Famous' is a very bad term, I feel like. It has no meaning behind it. I want them to have a purpose to what they do, and not do it because it's something that looks fun, or something that's gonna get them recognized by people. I encourage them to find some passion in themselves."
Here's the music video for "Replay," the first single off of "Zendaya":