We don’t deserve Zendaya. In a cover story with John David Washington for W Magazine, the actress has reflected on negative comments made toward her in the past, specifically her dreadlocks at the 2015 Academy Awards. Of course, the 24-year-old couldn’t be more diplomatic.
The comments in question were made by then Fashion Police co-host Giuliana Rancic when criticising red carpet looks from the Oscars ceremony. She said of Zendaya’s hair, “I feel like she smells like patchouli oil. And weed.”
Looking back at the comments, the Euphoria star believes it has sparked the potential for change within the media and within herself.
“That’s how change happens,” Zendaya said. “And it made me think, ‘How could I always have a lasting impact on what people saw and associated with people of colour?’”
At the time in 2015, Zendaya took to Instagram responding, “There is already a harsh criticism of African-American hair in society without the help of ignorant people who choose to judge others based on the curl of their hair.”
The following year, Zendaya penned an exclusive essay for GRAZIA, writing to you all about the importance of talking about the Oscars incident, no matter how uncomfortable it is for some.
“Do you think, as a society, we’re making ground when it comes to engaging with women of colour?” Zendaya penned in her essay for GRAZIA.
“The fact we’re talking about this means we’ve made progress. There were times when people didn’t even ask the question or didn’t even care to ask it and now things are different,” she continued. You can read the full essay here.
Zendaya isn’t afraid to call out the media. In a recent interview, the actress was quick to call out a gendered question that asked her what qualities she looks for in a man. She quickly corrected the question by replying, “[What] I most like in a person, how about that?”.
Last week, she was honoured at the 26th Critics Choice Awards with the SeeHer Award. The tribute was set up by the “SeeHer movement”, a body which advocates for the accurate portrayal of women and girls in advertising and media.
Zendaya and Washington appeared together in the gritty romantic Netflix drama, Malcolm & Marie.