Like her fellow three finalists, Zendaya hopes to win "Dancing With The Stars," but it isn't solely to earn that Mirror Ball Trophy.
The 16-year-old "Shake It Up!" actress hopes becoming the champion of season 16 of the ABC show will inspire children to follow their dreams. She also know it would mean a lot to a certain someone -- her partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, who is the only pro from among the four competing for the title this week who has never won "Dancing With The Stars" before.
The two are set to perform three dances, including a Cha Cha and a "supersized" Freestyle dance on Monday, May 20. The season 16 finale airs on Tuesday and the winner will be announced. Zendaya is competing against fellow celebrities "American Idol" alum Kellie Pickler, NFL star Jacoby Jones and Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman.
Check out OTRC.com's exclusive interview with Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy at a recent rehearsal.
(Remember, after all "Dancing With The Stars" episodes on Monday and Tuesday, you can check out post-show interviews with the cast here.)
Is the trophy the ultimate prize for you, or is it something else in this competition?
Zendaya: "Honestly, it's something else. I feel like the trophy is nice to say that you have, but my main goal is to inspire these little kids that are watching me, you know what I'm saying? I want to be a positive role model for them and I want them to see someone their age working hard and showing that age doesn't really define what you can do and what dreams you can, you know, go for and I don't want them to think that there's an age limit on that. So that's the most important thing."
"If I, you know, inspired some kids to maybe start ballroom dancing or, you know, go out for their soccer team, or whatever, then that's what I'm really here for."
How do you know you're going to impress the audience on Monday night?
Val: "I mean, I dunno. I just hope the audience will respond to our performance but I mean, it's hard to answer that question right now. We're still working, we're still trying to get our routines right. I dunno, man. I think, at the end of the day, one thing I always count out, which, you know, I'm always stressing, I'm always anxious and I always want the best and I constantly forget that one key factor that is probably the biggest advantage that we have, which is us."
"I just feel like when she dances, she dances with passion and emotion. When I dance, I'm in a different world, you know, and I think that's what the audience really appreciates about us. Not how technically savvy we are or how impressive she is as a dancer, but more about how she feels when she's performing and the same for me."
"So, I think that's how we're going to win the audience over -- just by connecting with them. I want them to get chills when they watch us dance. That's my biggest thing. If you get chills, then we already won. Then I know it's a successful number."
Our Freestyle is different because ...
Zendaya: "Because I think it's like he was saying, it's not necessarily so much about, you know, it's a supersized Freestyle so you use anything, you can literally do anything. But I don't want to just rely on everything to make it a good number."
"I want to rely on the dancing, I want to rely on the emotion and the passion and that's what I want people to notice -- not you know, big, crazy lights going on behind me or explosions or whatever. I want it to be about what I've learned and my journey here. So that's the most important thing."
Val: "I think you need to strategize and I think the other pros are very smart about how they showcase their celebrities. In my case, the more I can showcase her, the better it is for me. The less fluff I could have, you know, so the tension doesn't leave her, the better it is. In other instances, maybe it's the opposite -- maybe you want things to kind of take your attention away from some sort of flow or some sort of imperfection."
"Here, personally, I want all eyes on her throughout the entire thing so that people really appreciate how she dances, how she feels, how she performs."
Who feels more pressure right now -- Zendaya or Val?
Zendaya: "I think we're both feeling the same amount of pressure. We just show it in different ways. I think you show ..."
Val: "I wear my emotion on my sleeve. So, yeah, I'm stressing but I want her to still have fun. This is a week that actually feels like she's also a little bit stressed out and I don't want her to and I know that she's stressed out because she really wants to win for me, because of what we talked about -- me being the only one who's never won in the final -- I really, you know, she said to me, kinda, but not really, and I know that she feels that way. She really wants to win it for me and I don't want her to feel that way."
"I want her to relax, enjoy it. I'll be happy regardless. I won already a long time ago. A 'Dancing With The Stars' title would mean a lot to me because this is something that I've invested two years of my life, this is not an overnight thing, but I have plenty of titles that I'm very proud of that have nothing to do with 'Dancing With The Stars.'"
Zendaya: "Winning the Mirror Ball would be nice, right?"
Val: "It would be very nice."
Zendaya: "So we'll work on that, we'll work on that, make that happen."Reporting by George Pennacchio of KABC Television, which produces the entertainment show "On The Red Carpet" (check for local TV listings).