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Zendaya made a commitment to creating a healthy and supportive environment for her Challengers onscreen daughter, AJ Lister. As a producer on the film and former child star herself, Zendaya understood the importance of creating a safe and fun experience for Lister. Check out things parents should look out for to ensure their children are protected on set.

Lister, who portrayed Zendaya’s daughter in Challengers, speaks highly of her experience on set thanks to Zendaya’s intentional efforts to create a supportive environment. Zendaya knows how important it is to feel safe and seen on set as a former child star. She made sure to take an intentional approach as a producer to set a new standard for how child actors should be treated on set.

Thankfully, AJ’s experience did not mirror the negative experiences exposed in recent HBO documentary series “Quiet On Set.” From the audition to filming, Zendaya made certain arrangements for a supportive environment.

Zendaya encouraged parents in the audition room, setting a tone of inclusivity and support from the beginning. Though traditionally, parents aren’t permitted in the audition room. Zendaya also arranged for director Luca Guadagnino to hire an intimacy coordinator for sensitive scenes, some of which involved AJ and her scene partner, Mike Faist. This made for a completely controlled and safe setting for the child actress.

Aside from all the seriousness of filming, Zendaya simply made the set fun for AJ. She allowed AJ to pull her away from filming to hide and play with her toys. The crew shared in the fun and laughter whenever they searched for “Z and Lily,” only to find them having a blast together. Another big intention the cast and crew made was to have adequate on-set engagement so that AJ might feel included and valued. Faist took time to interview her and share jokes between filming.

AJ’s parents emphasize the importance of building authentic connections ahead of filming. While shooting Birth/Rebirth in 2023, Judy Reyes displayed this by taking AJ on a nail date. This approach also helped foster bonds that translated into on-screen chemistry. The environment made AJ feel safe, enabling her to deliver her best performances.

Her parents recalled how supportive environments have empowered AJ to advocate for herself. On a previous set, when an actor went off-script and kissed her on the forehead, five-year-old AJ immediately responded, “That was inappropriate. I don’t know you,” highlighting her ability to assert her boundaries.

On set of Challengers, AJ learned the significance of making friends observing how Zendaya treated her crew with respect and reverence. AJ shares her personal advice for other kid actors, suggesting they “engage with the crew by understanding the different aspects of filmmaking like lights, prop design, and makeup, even getting to play director.

AJ continues to flourish as a child star and still maintains a well-balanced life, being featured in her school yearbook three times. Thanks to a supportive environment and positive experiences on set by remembering the tips listed above, she is pushing a new standard for a healthy and nurturing environment in film.