Zayn Malik Through the Years: From One Direction to Solo Hitmaker

Zayn Malik almost missed his chance at fame. On the morning of his audition for The X Factor UK in 2010, he felt so nervous that he decided not to go — that is, until his mother, Tricia, basically dragged him out of bed and helped change his mind. The rest, as they say, was history.

In the middle of the competition, creator and judge Simon Cowell grouped Malik with Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson to form a boy band named One Direction. The fivesome went on to conquer the world, releasing four albums together in the same number of years and performing at historic stadiums across North America, Europe and beyond.

Malik abruptly left the group in 2015 in the middle of one of their On the Road Again tour. He explained to fans that there was not a rift between the members, but he simply wanted time away from the spotlight.

In a British Vogue profile in 2018, the “Story of My Life” crooner explained why he parted ways with the beloved boy band. “We went from theaters to arenas to stadiums — there was never any sort of bridge between. Just boom, boom, boom,” he said at the time. “I guess that kind of progression to any mind — but especially when you’re 17, 18 — it kind of affects you a little bit.”

Malik added, “People take it different ways — especially when there are five different personalities. The relationships had broken apart.”

The singer-songwriter ended up returning to music in 2016 when he released the hit single “Pillowtalk” from his debut solo album, Mind of Mine. His sophomore record, Icarus Falls, followed in 2018.

In addition to his successful career, Malik has made headlines for his personal life, most notably his relationships with ex-fiancée Perrie Edwards and off-and-on girlfriend Gigi Hadid. After reconciling with the Victoria’s Secret stunner in early 2020, the duo welcomed their first child together that September.

“Our baby girl is here, healthy and beautiful,” he wrote via Instagram alongside a pic of their little one grabbing onto his finger. “To try [to] put into words how I am feeling right now would be an impossible task. The love I feel for this tiny human is beyond my understanding. Grateful to know her, proud to call her mine, and thankful for the life we will have together.”

Malik and Hadid are “loving parenthood and can’t get enough of their little girl,” a source told Us Weekly exclusively. “Things are going really swimmingly between them and they’re both so happy.”

Scroll down to see photos of the entertainer through the years, from his childhood to present day!

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