Zende grew up in Africa and lived in an orphanage after losing his parents and brother to AIDS. Zende swiped a camera belonging to honeymooners Kristen Forrester and Tony Dominguez, then thought better of it and returned it to the couple. Zende brought Kristen and Tony to the orphanage and explained that he paid his way by caring for its younger children. Zende couldn't believe it when Kristen and Tony, who didn't want to risk having a child because Tony was HIV-positive, adopted him and took him to Los Angeles, where became Zende Forrester Dominguez.
At school, Zende met a teacher, Erica Lovejoy, and got her invited to a Forrester party, setting in motion a chain of events that left psychiatrist Taylor Hayes presumed dead from a gunshot inflicted by Erica's mother, the nefarious Sheila Carter. Eventually, Zende, Kristen, and Tony moved to Miami, where Zende completed his education, though Zende was in town in 2005 for his adoptive father's AIDS benefit, where Zende met his half-cousins, Steffy and Phoebe Forrester.
In 2015, an adult Zende returned to L.A. and wanted to start at the bottom at his family's design house, Forrester Creations, despite his connections. Zende met fellow intern Nicole Avant but didn't act on his attraction to her until she kissed his half-cousin, Thomas Forrester. Just as Zende and Nicole began exploring a relationship, Nicole decided to become a surrogate for her transgender sister, Maya Avant; Zende worried that Nicole's pregnancy would come between them. His doubts reinforced by Nicole's intolerant father, Julius Avant, Zende broke up with a pregnant Nicole and succumbed to the persistent advances of Nicole's childhood friend Sasha Thompson, a budding model Zende was tasked with photographing.
But Zende couldn't return Sasha's feelings and snuck into Nicole's hospital room dressed as an orderly to witness the birth of the baby. Moved, Zende planned to reunite with Nicole until Sasha announced she herself was pregnant. Dubious about the timing, Zende reconciled with Nicole before admitting he might be Sasha's babydaddy. When it came out that Sasha faked her pregnancy test, Zende forgave Sasha, then got an assignment to snap Sasha modeling lingerie, which upset Nicole. But Zende and Nicole soon moved past it and made love for the first time. Later, Zende attended baby Lizzie's christening and seemed concerned when Sasha started getting cozy with Thomas.