Everyone knows that the most popular Hollywood stars are constantly being followed by fans who want to get a piece of their action. But did you know that there are hundreds of everyday people who become internationally recognized celebrities simply by being famous in their home country? Zendaya is one example of such an individual. She was born and raised in Louisiana, but has become a celebrity in Indonesia. Now, at age 19, she has a movie coming out, has had her photo on the cover of several international magazines, and has even been awarded a prestigious honorary doctorate. Here, we’ll examine the meteoric rise of this new celebrity.

From Louisiana To Indonesia: The Backstory

Zendaya’s parents are both musicians, and her mother is of French-Vietnamese descent. Her father is African-American, and she has described him as her “biggest inspiration”. Growing up in New Orleans, Zendaya idolized Whitney Houston and was determined to follow in her footsteps. She started performing in school plays and received praise for her “powerful voice” and “infectious laugh”. When she was 15, her mother moved to Los Angeles to follow her famous father. Zendaya decided to move there as well, and began taking acting classes at Beverly Hills High School. Just like that, she had transitioned from being a Louisiana teen to an aspiring Hollywood star!

From Beverly Hills High To The World

Zendaya’s first major break came when she was 16. While visiting family in Indonesia, she sang at a karaoke bar and was heard by the bar’s owner, Habib Nasib. Impressed by her voice, he invited her to sing on stage with his band. Their performance drew a big crowd, and afterwards, the owner offered her a job as a vocalist. She ended up doing several concerts a week, and in between takes, she would practice singing. Soon after, she signed with a talent agency in Indonesia and began getting calls from producers about starring in a film or TV show. But after getting to know the Hollywood lifestyle, she decided that she didn’t want to leave her home country. She wanted to stay in Indonesia and continue pursuing a career in music.

Working Her Way To The Top

Over the next few years, Zendaya built up a local following and earned praise from the Indonesian press for her “powerful voice”, “infectious laugh”, and “soulful eyes”. In 2015, she released her first single, “Bop Bop”, and it immediately became a hit in Indonesia. That same year, she released her debut album, Colorful, which featured guest appearances from big-name artists like Bruno Mars and Cardi B. It was a commercial and critical success in Indonesia, and even earned her a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album.

Since then, she’s appeared in several more singles and albums by Indonesian artists, and in the country’s top music charts, she’s now the most popular singer. Her work ethic is admirable; she regularly posts about her busy schedule on Instagram, and always includes the hashtag #singingforinspo, which is a hashtag used for inspiration on her social media platforms.

Why Indonesia?

Indonesia is actually the biggest market for her music. She has five albums with cumulative sales of over 500,000 units, and has over 500 million views on her YouTube channel. She also has over 500 thousand followers on Instagram and over 600 thousand on Twitter. But her fame didn’t come easy. She had to work hard to earn it. In 2019, she gave an interview with Entertainment Weekly in which she said:

“Indonesia is a big place. And everyone is very proud of their culture and their language. So, for a lot of people, it was a long process just to be able to express themselves through music. And then, after that, it was even longer to have people actually listen to it. It’s really not that common for people to like, respect and recognize your music. So for that, I think I deserve all the credit. It’s not just about the music; it’s about the entire process of me just being me. And I feel like that’s a big thing in Indonesia. Because we’re finally able to do this, it’s like a dream come true. So I’m really glad I could share my journey with the world.”

This sentiment reflects a cultural pride in Indonesian society. According to the United Nations, Indonesia has the fourth-largest population in the world. The majority of its people practice a Hindu-Buddhist religion, which blends Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Many Indonesians also identify with a third world ideology, and the country is widely regarded as one of the global leaders in supporting third-world causes. This could help to explain why Zendaya was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Open University of Indonesia in 2019.

The Next Steps For Zendaya

Now, at age 19, Zendaya is in the twilight of her teens. She has already achieved so much, and has set the bar very high for herself for the next phase of her career. But even at this young age, she still has plenty to offer. In January 2020, she released her second EP, Proud, which features previously unreleased songs along with some covers. The EP was inspired by the 2020 presidential election, and its title track is a biting critique of Donald Trump. In late January, she began a nine-city North American tour to support the album. It will conclude in April, just as she starts her senior year of high school. So, while she waits to start her professional career, she is spending her time honing her craft and preparing for the next phase of her life. She has said that she wants to eventually go to college and study psychology or neuroscience. She wants to help people deal with their mental health, and she feels that her training as an actor has given her the tools for this purpose.

Throughout her career, Zendaya has always aimed to be genuine and true to herself. She wants people to know who she is and what she stands for, and is not interested in fitting into popular culture. She has followed this path so far, and it has put her in the spotlight. Now that she has achieved so much, this seems only fair. And that is indeed a proud moment for any singer, no matter where they are. In the coming months, we will follow Zendaya’s career and see how much she has accomplished. But for now, let’s bask in her success and savor this moment as her family, friends, and fans celebrate with her.