Pop star Zendaya is the star and co-producer. She plays a sixteen-year old high school student who’s secrectly a spy. The cast and executive producer give insight on the series.
Pop star Zendaya (Dancing with the Stars Season 16) is starring in the Disney Channel’s latest family comedy, K.C. Undercover. In the series, K.C.’s parents, played by Kadeem Hardison and Tammy Townsend are spies and they recruit K.C. as well as her brother (Kamil McFadden) and eight-year old actress Trinitee Stokes plays robot sister Judy who’s always ready with witty punch lines. K.C. must balance being a high school student while keeping the secrecy of her missions as a spy.
Being “busy” is an understatement for the actress, singer, spokes model and producer. When asked what interested her in this show and how she can relate to her character, Zendaya said, “I connect so much with K.C. because she has to be this regular girl and balance her friendship and social life as a teenager with being this super spy. For me its being an entertainer which is a full time job while going to school and enjoying life as a teenager. It’s never easy but you figure out your priorities and sometimes you have to make sacrifices but that comes along with the territory.”
The actress is wise beyond her years at the youthful age of eighteen. At a time when most teenagers are vying to be seen as adults, why did she want to play a sixteen year old high school student? She jokes, “I have the heart and soul of an eighty-year old! I wanted to come back to the Disney Channel and play this younger role because I have such a young fan base. So many kids know me through the Disney Channel, so I definitely didn’t want to alienate my supporters. My goal is to expand Disney Channel’s audience. I don’t want K.C. Undercover to just be a show for little kids, I want everyone to have fun watching the show with their family.”
K.C. Undercover is the first time Zendaya is serving as a producer for a television show. On what she’s learned so far she comments, “There are so many intricate details that go into creating a television show. It could be someone’s outfit, it could be the paint on the wall or the lighting, but everything has to make sense. The detail that was important to me, I didn’t want our characters to wear shoes inside. That felt weird to me, who wears shoes inside their house? I take my shoes off immediately and we wear our socks. Those tiny details make a difference to me and make the viewer feel more connected to the story.”
When asked if she’s learned anything from her TV parent co-stars she says, “Absolutely, they’re awesome! We’ve created an environment where we’re like a big family. I think it’s a blessing when you can go to work and you’re with people that you enjoy. I have friends and family who have jobs where they don’t like the person in the cubicle next to them but this place is such a great environment. I learn from them, they somehow learn from me and it’s just really cool.”
Hardison and Townsend have been actors over twenty years. When asked what kind of wisdom they are imparting on their young co-stars? Hardison comments, “My co-stars are beyond the talent I thought that I had at that same age. It’s been a challenge to try to teach them something because…Townsend interjects, “We’re being taught!” He continues, “There’s a thing that happens with kids and acting that you can’t really buy or teach, its just natural and instinctive. Kamil, every now and again, I’ll pull him aside and we’ll talk about black men things.”Townsend adds, “He’s [Kamil] asked you a couple times how to deliver a line and how to have comedic timing.” Hardison says this about Zendaya, “She’s our eighteen-year old producer who does so many things, well, without breaking a sweat while looking fabulous. I’m always praising the cast because I’m so impressed by them.”
Townsend gives this advice to child stars looking to successfully transition to adulthood in the industry, “Oftentimes you see examples of kids who loose their way. It’s important to have a guardian or a parent whose involved and balances set life with everyday kids stuff and even charity work because this world is a bubble and it can pop quickly. This doesn’t represent what the real world is.” On what people who may have grown up with Hardison and Townsend on A Different World and Family Matters should know that will entice them to watch K.C. Undercover with their families, Hardison exclaims, “Because I’m back! Whether you pick up a parenting trick or you see Zendaya’s character say something or be in the midst of a situation that your teen is going through there’s something for everyone.” Townsend echoes similar sentiments, “There are situations that the writers have placed in the show which are applicable to real life. Viewers will get to see how we as a family circumvent through these different issues. How we wrap it up and resolve situations is a great takeaway for viewers to incorporate into their own lives.”
Rob Lotterstein, Executive Producer and Showrunner for K.C. Undercover has known Zendaya since she was thirteen years old and star of Disney Channel series, Shake It Up. He gives his insight on working with the pop star. “It was a great natural transition with this show to give her the opportunity to get her feet wet in terms of producing. She has a fantastic instinct which is what producers need; a gut feeling if there’s a problem, here’s the solution. It gives me added responsibility because I want to see her succeed and learn in her role as producer which is how I learned by having mentors.” He continues, “She’s been a phenomenal help in terms of launching this show with her ideas. Zendaya has been working in television for over five years and when you’re immersed in that environment you pick up on a lot of things. Zendaya knows what young people like. There’s a reason why she has millions of fans, they look up to her as a fashion icon and a trendsetter. When we take that and filter it through the producer role, we get great results.”
When asked why this show was a necessary addition to Disney Channel, Lotterstein comments, “Even though it’s about being a spy and we have action and gadgets, the heart of the show is the family. We all can relate to, sibling rivalries, balancing school and other responsibilities. Sure kids aren’t going to be spies in real life but they do understand having various priorities and trying to make it all work. We literally get to see Zendaya flying through the air, flying in on a helicopter and kicking peoples butts, it’s so much fun. There’s that fantasy element, people get to dream about being a spy but at the heart its about this family and by putting an immense talent like Zendaya in the middle, who wouldn’t be excited about that?”
K.C. Undercover premieres Sunday, January 18th at 8:30 ET/PT only on Disney Channel.