Coming from the biggest boyband in the world to a solo artist, Zayn Malik has found more than just success. He's got a fanbase that will back him 100 percent. One Direction has one of the most loyal fanbases of all time and when each of the boys decided to put out solo projects, the loyal fans got their backs—all of their backs. Since One Direction pretty much had world domination, it's not a shocker that fans got really invested into each of the boys' lives. Zayn has always been the mysterious one (which made him extra sexy, tbh). He spoke less out of all the boys during interviews/time with press. He kept his life more private than some of the 1D boys. He always left us wanting more and with this list, more is exactly what you get.
16 His name is originally spelt ZAIN
Yup, that is correct. Zayn's name is actually originally spelt Z-A-I-N. Kind of cool, right? His full name is Zain Javadd Malik. Word on the street is that he changed the way his name is spelt because he thought Z-A-Y-N looked cooler. We're going to have to argue against that because spelling his name with an I would have been pretty unique in itself. But he could spell his name like W-H-O-C-A-R-E-S and we'd still love him the same. Also, we don't even need one hand to count how many Zayns or Zains we have met in our lives. Though the name is special, it's fitting for a special dude. We can't imagine Zayn being called anything else.
15 His mom was the one who got him on X Factor
Moms really are heroes. If it wasn't for Zayn's mom, he may have never been in the position he is today. He definitely wouldn't have been in One Direction without her either. Why? Well, Zayn was not feeling the 4 a.m. wake up call to go to the audition. "The reason I woke up is because my mum came in the room and was like, 'You have to go audition for this show.' I felt like I had to do it because I owed it to her." Boy, do you owe it to her now! What would One Direction be today if Zayn's mom never woke him up at 4 a.m. to go sing his butt off? A world we can't even fathom. Sure, a before-dawn wake up call isn't the prettiest thing in the world, but when you're waking up to go chase your dreams? Worth it.
14 He actually signed up for X Factor in 2009, but was too scared
Zayn has let his emotions get the best of him sometimes. For example, he signed up for X Factor in 2009—the year before he actually auditioned and met the rest of the boys. But Zayn decided to not follow through with it because his nerves got to him. Makes sense, because remember in 2010 when he made it past the first round and had to get ready for the dancing part of the audition? He didn't want to embarrass himself so bad that he almost decided to not follow through, again! One of the judges had to go backstage to look for him and to talk him into giving it a shot. Being shy is hard, but when someone is THAT talented—it would be unfair to hide from the world.
13 He loves art
...so much so that he sometimes uses fan drawings as his Twitter avatar! He was always the quiet and mysterious one when he was in One Direction, so it's not surprising to learn he's also sensitive and loves art and to draw. He once drew/painted all over his own house. "I like to graffiti my house. The garden goes up three stories into the mountain. There are these walls that look white from one side, but when you walk up the stairs, the inside is all graffiti," he told Billboard. Why does his house sound like somewhere we really want to visit? And it must be nice to just own a house in your early 20s and do whatever your heart may desire. Zayn also created some of his very own tattoos.
12 He has 3 sisters
Zayn was raised around all females! His mum has always played a strong part of his life, but most people don't realize Zayn also has three sisters, one older sister and two younger ones. One of his sisters was actually in One Direction's music video for "Story Of My Life." She and Zayn recreated a childhood photo of them in Zayn's room. And from the looks of it, it sounds like his mum and sisters really made a positive impact on Zayn. "I enjoyed the womanly influence. I have a lot of respect for women because of them. They are so strong, powerful and do everything themselves," he said. Zayn is currently dating supermodel Gigi Hadid and we have a feeling she can vouch for that.
11 He never had a passport before joining One Direction
At first, this statement might seem like a huge "WHOA!" But think about it...the boys were only around 16 years old when they started the band, so it's not too crazy that Zayn never had a passport before One Direction. He never traveled before, but being in the world's biggest boyband at the time—there are going to be many, many demands from around the world. So Zayn finally got his first passport once he made the band. We're sure they went through passports faster than any other people in the world. Heck, by now Zayn probably has a drawer he can fill up with just passports that have no more room for stamps. From going to never even boarding a plane to jumping on private jets from country to country... not too shabby.
10 He is a self-preclaimed comic book nerd
Dark, mysterious and nerdy? Jackpot. If anyone's a real One Direction fan, they would have been paying attention to Zayn and realized that he's pretty much a big nerd. He loves comic books. "I'm a bit of a geek when it comes to comic books. I just love comic books. I've always loved comic book art, and I just think it's amazing." Some of his tattoos are inspired by the comic book world, like his ZAP! tat on his forearm and his hidden light saber tat on his finger that lights up. Yes, he has a mini lightsaber tattoo that is filled in with glow-in-the-dark ink! How cool is that? If that doesn't scream comic book nerd, we're not sure what does.
9 His audition song on X Factor was "Let Me Love You" by Mario
Zayn has always felt a little off-brand for One Direction. Maybe it had to do with his song choice for his very first audition on the show. He went with Mario's "Let Me Love You." That already goes to show that the boy was always more in touch with the R&B/hip hop genre versus pop/boy band stuff. When Zayn was still a part of the world's biggest boy band, he would try to put his own spin on it sometimes: "If I would sing a hook or a verse slightly R&B, or slightly myself, it would always be recorded 50 times until there was a straight version that was pop...so they could use that version." Bummer, but it sounds like Zayn's got what he wanted now.
8 He has squaphobia, meaning he's scared of open water (and he can't swim)
This is probably a legit fear that most people do not even recognize. There are people who love and thrive in the water (hello, Michael Phelps). And then there are people like Zayn (and us). Zayn isn't a fan of open water. For starters, he reportedly does not know how to swim so the fear makes sense. Luckily for Zayn, he didn't land a position on an Olympic swim team. Some people have such a bad case of aquaphobia that it effects their daily lives. While it's not often talked about, the phobia can often affect a lot of people. There may not be specific research on aquaphobia, but it's estimated that 12.5% of U.S. adults will suffer from some type of phobia during their lifetime.
7 He's half Pakistani and half English
No wonder he is a beauty! Zayn's father is British Pakistani and his mother is English, with a bit of Irish in her blood. He's gotten a lot of threats when he's tried to speak up for what he believes in. He's even been accused of joining ISIS in the past. Zayn has gotten a lot of attention just because of his ethnicity, but he never felt pressured. "I don’t feel like I felt pressure ever. I always felt good that I was, like, first of my kind in what I was doing. I enjoyed that I brought the diversity. But I would never be trying to influence anything or try to stamp myself as a religious statement or portrayal of anything. I am me," he said.
6 If it wasn't for music, he'd be an English teacher
Now this wouldn't be a bad sight in a classroom, at all. He has mentioned before that if it wasn't for One Direction, he most likely would have gone to college to major in English. And to go with a more artistic route, he would have also liked to work as a songwriter and to produce for other people. Zayn's already the mysterious type, so we can totally see him being the mysterious, profound English teacher on campus. We wonder what books and assignments Zayn would make his class read and write? Most musicians' backup plans seems to be writing or producing for other artists anyway. And in some cases, people who start off as producers and songwriters end up being the big star themselves, too.
5 In 2014, he became an Official Ambassador for the British Asian Trust Group
Zayn has definitely stood out from the group in One Direction, for a few reasons. One being that he added diversity to the band. Being half Pakastani, Zayn was once an ambassador for the British Asian Trust Group. According to the website, the group's goal is to "support the development of a South Asia that is free from inequality and injustice." It's awesome to see that outside of music, celebs like Zayn are using their voice to bring awareness and support to different organizations. The executive director of the BATG said, "We are delighted to welcome Zayn Malik to The British Asian Trust family; he is a young man with immense talent and a dedicated following. Zayn joins a dedicated group of celebrity supporters, who have worked alongside us helping to improve the lives of disadvantaged people living in South Asia.”
4 He was never 100 percent into One Direction's music
It's one of the reasons why he quit the group. "Whenever I would suggest something, it was like it didn’t fit us. There was just a general conception that the management already had of what they want for the band, and I just wasn’t convinced with what we were selling. I wasn’t 100 percent behind the music. It wasn’t me," he said to Fader. It's unfortunate that Zayn felt that way when he was still in the group, but we sort of see where he's coming from. Like we said earlier, he's always been more in touch with R&B/hip hop, so of course he'll naturally sing that way more than the rest of the boys. Just because 1D didn't really quite make the music he would listen to, it doesn't mean he didn't appreciate it all. "As much as I was in that band, and I loved everything that we did, that’s not music that I would listen to."
3 He wanted out of 1D from the get-go...
So maybe he was never fully into the whole idea of the boy band? Sounds that way. "I guess I just wanted to go home from the beginning. I was always thinking it. I just didn’t know when I was going to do it," he said. It was hard to tell that Zayn felt this way from the very early days, when it looked as if the boys were all in it to win it. But with the fame and popularity the five of them got within weeks and months was more intense than any boy band in history. Whatever helped him stick around with the band, we're glad he did because it got him to exactly where he is today. He may have wanted to dip out from the early days, but we might not have the solo artist Zayn is today without X Factor.
2 He decided to quit the band while he was on stage
To make a decision this big on stage is a huge sign. "Literally, while I was on stage, I realized I wasn't going to do it anymore. I wasn't going to spend another minute doing something which made me ill and which I no longer believed in." We wonder which concert it was exactly that this happened at? We wonder if any of the guys realized Zayn had been struggling with the band? We wonder how long Zayn had been putting on this mask? The hardest line fans had to hear was likely this: "I couldn't see that there was anything left for me to give or to gain from staying." It's a hard concept to swallow sometimes—how can someone who has it all not be happy? Well Zayn, on behalf of all your fans, we're so proud.
1 He's had challenges with his weight
Throughout the years that Zayn was traveling and with the band, a lot of fans have noticed that Zayn had been getting skinnier and at times not looking the healthiest they've seen him. Granted, the boys were always on the go and had little time for R&R. After he left the group, he opened up about his weight. "It wasn't specifically an eating disorder. It was a control thing. Every area of my life was so regimented and controlled, it was the one area where I could say, 'No, I'm not eating that.' Once I got over the control, the eating just came back into place, super naturally." Having the same schedule as four other individuals must be tough, so to be a solo act and gain some control back is exactly what Zayn needed.
sources: fader.com, people.com, usmagazine.com, perezhilton.com