Zendaya Reflects On The 'Outrageously Offensive' Comments Made About Her Dreadlocks In 2015

Ata Owaji Victor
·3-min read
Photo credit: Steve Granitz - Getty Images
Photo credit: Steve Granitz - Getty Images

From ELLE

Zendaya has reflected on why she decided to speak up about the 'ignorant' comments about the faux dreadlocks she wore to the 2015 Academy Awards (Oscars), made by the then Fashion Police co-host Giuliana Rancic.

During a rundown of the red carpet, Rancic made an offensive comment on air that suggested that the traditional Afro-Caribbean hairstyle made the actress look like she 'smells like patchouli oil or weed.'

At the time of the comments, Zendaya took to Instagram to defended herself and call out the racially-charged comments as 'outrageously offensive.' The exchange garnered widespread press and public attention at the time (Kelly Osbourne left the Fashion Police following Rancic's comments) and Zendaya was widely praised for calling out the host so publicly at the young age of 18.

In a new cover story for W Magazine (March 15), the 24-year-old star reflected on the incident and her decision to speak up.

Photo credit: Steve Granitz - Getty Images
Photo credit: Steve Granitz - Getty Images

'That's how change happens,' said previous ELLE UK cover star Zendaya, who appeared in the issue alongside her Malcolm and Marie co-star John David Washington.

'And it made me think, how could I always have a lasting impact on what people saw and associated with People of Colour?'

Following the airing of the Fashion Police episode Zendaya responded to the television host on Instagram and Twitter. 'There is a fine line between what is funny and disrespectful,' she wrote. 'Someone said something about my hair at the Oscars that left me in awe. Not because I was relishing in rave outfit reviews, but because I was hit with ignorant slurs and pure disrespect.

'There is already 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. My wearing my hair in lots on an Oscar red carpet was to showcase them in a positive light, to remind people of colour that our hair is good enough.'

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Following, Zendaya's widely-publicised statement, the E! News host apologised in response: 'Dear Zendaya, I'm sorry I offended you and others. I was referring to a bohemian chic look. Had NOTHING to do with race and NEVER would!!!'

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The host then further clarified her remarks via an on air statement, saying she understood that what she said 'crossed the line'.

'I just want everyone to know, I didn't intend to hurt anybody, but I've learned it is not my intent that matters — it's the result, and the result is that people are offended, including Zendaya, and that is not OK. Therefore, I want to say to Zendaya, and anyone else out there that I have hurt, that I am so, so sincerely sorry. This really has been a learning experience for me — I've learned a lot today — and this incident has taught me to be a lot more aware of cliches and stereotypes, how much damage they can do. And that I am responsible, as we all are, to not perpetuate them further. '

If you have been affected by this article, you can find more information about race related incident support at Black Minds Matter UK and Mind.

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