All About Zendaya’s Parents, Claire and Kazembe

Challengers star Zendaya has been in the public eye since she was very young, which can be a very overwhelming experience for child stars. Luckily, she’s had two very supportive parents by her side the entire time. Claire Stoermer and Kazembe Ajamu Coleman oversaw both their daughter’s upbringing and her career, and she often credits them for her grounded approach to life.

The star was first seen as the character Rocky Blue in the Disney series Shake It Up in 2010. Following her success at Disney, she was cast as MJ in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Spider-Man franchise, across from her now-boyfriend Tom Holland. She has gone on to star in the critically acclaimed HBO series Euphoria, as well as hits like The Greatest Showman and Dune.

So who are the two people who led her through all of this growth? Here’s everything to know about Zendaya’s parents, Claire and Kazembe.

[table-of-contents] stripped

Zendaya and Tom Holland’s Relationship Timeline

Photo credit: Matthew Stockman - Getty Images
Photo credit: Matthew Stockman - Getty Images

Get to know Zendaya’s love story with her Spider-Man costar-turned-longtime partner.

Zendaya Holds Court

Photo credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN
Photo credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN

Read Zendaya’s ELLE cover interview from September 2023, where she discusses Challengers, Tom Holland, and fame.

Zendaya’s Best Looks Over the Years

Photo credit: Tim P. Whitby - Getty Images
Photo credit: Tim P. Whitby - Getty Images

See Zendaya’s biggest fashion moments, from her Disney Channel star days to now.

Who is Claire Stoermer?

Zendaya’s mom hails from Germany, which the actress has said she embraces.

“My mother’s proud of where she’s from and her history and her past, and same with my dad,” Zendaya explained. “I have roots in Africa. Like, I am from Africa, as well as from Germany, and I am very proud of that.”

Claire worked as a teacher in Oakland, California, close to where Zendaya grew up. The Spider-Man star told Teen Vogue that watching her mom’s commitment to her job was very inspiring to her as a kid.

“Growing up, I watched my mom teach in the heart of Oakland, California, at inner-city schools that were always underfunded. My mom went above and beyond, working constantly to open her students’ eyes to an education that could lift them far beyond their current circumstances,” she said in 2016. “She would introduce them to the arts, guide them through the language of Shakespeare, and show them the wonders of nature outside city life—all things that they wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. Watching her was magical; it instilled within me a true appreciation of and devotion to the importance of education.”

She added that if she wasn’t an actress, she’d be “a teacher in a heartbeat—guaranteed!”

When Zendaya moved to Los Angeles for her first show, Claire stayed behind in Oakland for her job.

“Me and my dad live in L.A. but my mom is a teacher so she couldn’t quit and move out with us:(,” Zendaya tweeted in 2011. “But I [see] her like every other week!”

In 2021, Stoermer appeared on Tina Knowles’ Talks with Mama Tina, and talked about taking on more work so her daughter could attend a summer conservatory program.

“We were paycheck to paycheck, so I took that second job,” she explained.

Zendaya said as much in 2017.

“My mom stayed in Oakland because she had two jobs: teaching and working at the California Shakespeare Theater at night,” she explained. “Those two jobs paid for all of our car trips back and forth for the year I was auditioning. Luckily, I had parents who were like, ‘You know what? We believe in you.’ I got my first job on the Disney Channel when I was 13, and it was just me and my dad in an apartment in downtown L.A.”

According to her daughter, Claire’s approach to fashion and life is pretty different from the people she found herself surrounded by in Hollywood.

“My mom didn’t wear makeup,” she told Vanity Fair in 2019. “I don’t think she knew that, to me, that was empowering that she didn’t care...I would go to my grandma’s house and she would have all the good makeup. I got to see how women are able to navigate within the spaces of beauty and [see that] it’s self-defined—it’s equally beautiful, however you choose to do it.”

After teaching, Claire opened her own design brand called Kizzmet Jewelry.

Zendaya has returned the support by wearing and tweeting about her mother’s jewelry line.

Claire’s Instagram is often followed by fans, though she does not flood the timeline with Zendaya content. She does occasionally share a sweet throwback photo, like this loving birthday message.

“I wish I could be with you on your birthday, but such is the life of a busy woman,” Claire wrote in 2021. “Just know that I am with you always, and I love you forever, always and more. Happy birthday, my sweet beautiful child!”

And she sometimes shares some of her favorite outfits her daughter has worn on press tours.

Who is Kazembe Ajamu Coleman?

Kazembe’s original name was Samuel David Coleman, but to honor his Nigerian roots, he had it changed to Kazembe Ajamu. Kazembe was also a teacher when Zendaya was small, but he eventually accompanied her to Los Angeles as her manager. Being only a teenager, she needed an adult by her side for press, red carpets, and other work obligations associated with a life in the spotlight. She did tell Us Weekly in 2014 that she “always had to take school very seriously” because of her parents, joking that “in 2nd grade [I] failed some spelling tests and got in a lot of trouble!”

In 2017, Zendaya told Glamour more about how her dad became her manager.

“I was basically like, ‘I want to do this,’ and my dad quit his job as a teacher to make it happen,” she said.

Kazembe was married and divorced before meeting Claire and has five other children from that union: Katianna, Annabella, Kaylee, Austin, and Julien.

“I look up to my big sister and realize the influence she’s had on me and making me a better person,” Zendaya said in an interview with Time in 2015. “Having such a big, grounded family, I realized as you get older how important that is.”

Her older half-siblings have children of their own, making Zendaya an aunt. She told Complex in 2015, “Honestly, I think about my little nieces and my little nephews first. Because one day they’re going to have Twitter, and they’re going to have Instagram, and I’m going to be like, ‘This is how you handle it, kids.’”

What else has Zendaya said about her parents?

In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres in 2016, Zendaya said, “I gotta give it to my parents—I’m really lucky to have the parents that I have. They just have always instilled in me those core values that I think I have to carry me through everything. I give it up to them. I give it up to my family.”

In 2015, Zendaya responded to someone on X, then known as Twitter, who claimed her parents were “ugly” in a photo.

“While you’re so concerned about what my parents look like, please know that these are the two most selfless people in the world,” Zendaya wrote. “They have chosen to spend their entire life not worried about trivial things, such as looks and insulting people’s parents on Twitter, but instead became educators who have dedicated their lives to teaching, cultivating and filling young, shallow minds. It’s one of the most important, underpaid jobs that we have. So please, log out, go to school, hug a teacher, read a textbook…and while you’re at it, go look in the mirror and know that you, too, are beautiful because such hateful things only stem from internal struggles. Bless you.”

Are Zendaya’s parents still together?

Claire and Kazembe did not get married until 2008, when their daughter was already 12 years old. Her mom filed for divorce in 2016, but they seem to have remained friends. When the news broke, Zendaya tweeted that they had actually split up earlier than the divorce and kept it quiet and friendly.

“My parents ain’t been together for a long time,” she tweeted. “Y’all didn’t know cause we private + they still homies.”

She shared a photo of them hiking together with the hashtag #lateassnews.

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