Disney darlings gone wild, getting knocked off their sparkly clean pedestal is not an unfamiliar tale in showbiz. But tween queens Zendaya Coleman and Bella Thorne of Shake It Up fame are unlikely to enter that notorious teen trainwreck bracket. And how do we know this?
It's 10.30pm in Los Angeles and Coleman, 15, who plays the back-up dancer Rocky Blue in Disney's hit buddy-bonding sitcom Shake It Up, swears that she's just like any other "regular" teenager out there with skin break-outs, bedtime rules (as soon as we hang up the phone) and a no-dating directive from her parents.
"Of course. Are you kidding? I'm still a teenager who can have those horrible hair days and I still get those pimples," said Coleman over the phone.
"It's just that you don't see them when we have make-up on," she adds.
Presenting a perfectly healthy, wholesome package, the California-bred teen star displays a maturity far beyond her age — until the word Dubai crops up.
"It's my first time and I am beyond excited. I have always wanted to travel the entire world, experience different cultures and everything. I am definitely excited about it… I can't wait to meet my beautiful fans out there — it's always a surreal experience for me," said Coleman, with a genuine girlishness about her impending visit to the UAE this weekend.
Coleman will follow in the footsteps of Kim Kardashian in whipping up her signature shake at the Millions of Milkshakes counter at The Dubai Mall on Friday and hosting a private dinner for her fans in Abu Dhabi the day before. And to add to that utopian picture, she will be jetting to Dubai with her best friend — both in real and reel life — Bella Thorne. The onscreen CeCe Jones, 14, began her career under the arclights with a pictorial for Parents magazine. She was all of six weeks old. The Florida-born star followed it up with a dozen plus roles in hit television series such as The O.C. and Dirty Sexy Money along with a string of commercials. But her current obsession is all about living it up in Dubai.
"My teacher has just asked me to do research report on Dubai and I am learning a lot about it. I know there's a lot of shopping to do there and I can't wait to check out the waterparks," said Thorne, who's being home-schooled. And in that cute voice that Disney stars seem born with, she too says her impending meet-and-greet sessions with fans are the highlight of her Dubai debut.
"I have always tweeted to my fans who have loved us so much from a distance. But the idea of interacting with them and meeting them face to face is a great feeling. I still remember my biggest fan — I met her in Disneyland and she just started crying, speaking every line in Shake It Up ... she was just adorable," said Thorne.
But all good things come with a price tag. In order to get up close and personal with the Disney duo, a wristband for Dh400 should be purchased from either Millions Of Milkshakes store or the Virgin Megastore at Dubai Mall. In the bargain, you also get to click a picture with these two dancing sensations.
"When we invited Kim Kardashian in October to Millions Of Milkshakes, it was more of a media event announcing our grand opening. But this time around, it's all about the fans and their chance to meet them exclusively. The Disney stars are here primarily because of popular demand because we received so many requests to get talented, young stars to the UAE," said Sheeraz Hasan, founder of Millions Of Milkshakes. He's bringing the stars into town in collaboration with Emirates Hospitality.
While Dubai tweens (roughly defined as fans between nine and 14) await the arrival of their idols eagerly, we wonder if the pressures of stardom and courting fame so young can get overwhelming. Hollywood has something of a chequered past with teen stars who have often been accused of growing up too fast (Miley Cyrus' sex-kitten avatar) and checking into rehab way too soon (Disney star Demi Lovato of Sonny With a Chance fame).
"I am very fortunate that I have the kind of personality that doesn't let all that fame and admiration affect me. My family and my friends have always been there for me. And by family, I include everybody in the cast of Shake It Up. Those who know me will tell me if I ever get a big head or anything. They will bring me back to the ground," said Coleman. Unlike an angst-ridden teenage rebel, she complies happily with the no-dating rule in her house.
"My parents are not too thrilled with [dating], especially my dad. Many of my friends are in relationships, but I am in a place in my career and life [where] I don't feel like I have to be pressured into anything. Right now, I am just focused on my career and having friends. I feel all that [dating] would complicate things and I am cool with my parents' rules. Totally OK." Even in her fashion choices, she's aware of her soaring tween clout.
"I love fashion and it's fun to express yourself through your clothes. But in the position that I am in, it's important to be appropriate at the same time. I want to always give out a positive message to the young ladies who are looking up to me and watching the things I do. So it's important to me that not only do I express myself through fashion but also be appropriate in the things I wear and stay appropriate," said Coleman, who started her career as a fashion model for stores such as Macy's, Old Navy and Sears.
While Coleman is aware of being worshipped every step of the way, Thorne believes having strong family support helps her remain grounded.
"I am the one who chose this path and I expect people to see me just the way I am. I know I am in the acting business and if there's pressure I just need to go ahead and deal with it myself. My family is very close to me and no matter what pressures I face, I have them and friends to help me get through it," said Thorne.
While the world admires them, they too have idols whom they will heartily shriek and squeal for. While Coleman rates hitmaker Beyonce as her biggest idol, it's Disney star Selena Gomez and Twilight heartthrob Robert Pattinson who get Thorne's heart racing.
"Robert Pattinson — ever since 6th grade — and Selena Gomez is fantastic. She has worked really, really hard. She just keeps going and that's what I want to do as well," said Thorne, who considers Hollywood films as her final destination.
For Coleman, a couple of Grammys should do the trick. "I love music and I want to eventually make that my career. I feel as if we are on this amazing ride. So am sitting back and enjoying it all," said Coleman.
Check out their shakes
Zendaya Coleman Shake: Chocolate chips,cookie dough, almonds, ice cream with whip cream.
Bella Thorne Shake: Mixed berries, Ferrero Rocher, Oreo with whip cream.
Ask the girls!
Here's your chance to ask questions to your favourite Disney stars.
tabloid! is meeting Bella Thorne and Zendaya Coleman in Dubai. Tweet us your questions and we will get them answered for you @GulfNewsTabloid.
"I had never done a TV show before Shake It Up, so I just kinda went in there and put my heart and soul into it."
— Zendaya Coleman
"Zendaya is like my brother — we never fight. I can only remember one fight and that was in the beginning of series 1. We never ever fight. She is my girl."
— Bella Thorne
"Bella is my like my sister and work seems like fun with her."
— Zendaya Coleman
Don't miss it
- Catch them at Millions Of Milkshakes counter on Friday evening. Wristbands for meet-and-greet photo opportunity are Dh400 and Dh600 (VIP, includes an exclusive dinner with the girls at Alhan Restaurant in Abu Dhabi on Thursday and a Shake It Up T-Shirt). Available at Millions Of Milkshakes at the Dubai Mall and Virgin Megastore in Dubai Mall.
- For tickets call 050-3140751 (dinner package on Thursday) and 050-8527141 (wristbands) or log on to millionsofmilkshakes.ae