Zayn might be considered the most successful of the One Direction clan at the time. The first to go solo — the singer has a booming music career, a superstar girlfriend in Gigi Hadid, and a new capsule collection with Versus by Versace. Through it all, Zayn is just trying to keep from losing his shit and somehow lead a “normal” life, even if that will never be possible.
“In New York, you can sometimes get out in the early hours of the morning for a walk. But there’s no underground parking here, no escape routes. So they’re going to get pictures, they’re going to find you. In LA, it’s more catered to these things — you’ve got back entrances and that.”
Despite the crazy publicity, he insists that he and girlfriend/model Gigi Hadid lead relatively normal lives in private.
“I can understand how it can look, that you’ve got these two people in a ‘power couple’. That’s not something I want to be a part of. I’m with her because I like her and I hope she’s with me because she likes me. When we come home, we don’t really talk about that s**t. We just spend time together as a normal couple, cook food, watch TV, have a laugh.”
He added, though, that it has helped to have a famous girlfriend as she’s extremely understanding in what he deals with on a daily basis.
The two have now been dating for more than a year and a half — she’s Zayn’s most serious girlfriend after breaking off his engagement to Little Mix singer Perrie Edwards.
Zayn also opened up about what it’s like to be such a public Muslim figure, especially in a time of such Islamophobia.
“The first time I came to America, I had three security checks before I got on the plane; first they said that I’d been randomly selected, and then they said it was something to do with my name, it was flagging something on their system. Then when I landed, it was like a movie. They kept me there for three hours, questioning me about all kinds of crazy stuff. I was 17, my first time in America, jet-lagged off the plane, confused. The same thing happened the next time too.”
The irony is that Malik isn’t even particularly religious, but he still takes pride in his culture.
“I take a great sense of pride — and responsibility — in knowing that I am the first of my kind, from my background. I’m not currently practicing but I was raised in the Islamic faith, so it will always be with me, and I identify a lot with the culture. But I’m just me. I don’t want to be defined by my religion or my cultural background.”
But even though he’s dealt with all the hate and Islamophobia, he insists that it doesn’t anger him.
“I just wish people had more love and care and compassion for other human beings.”
Racism isn’t the only thing he struggles with as a celebrity. He still manages his anxiety, which previously caused him to cancel shows.
“It’s not a thing that you just get rid of overnight but it’s getting to a much more manageable place. I think it came from a lack of confidence, just a sense of disbelief in myself.”
Zayn is currently working on his new album and his Versus Versace collection will be available on Thursday.