Zendaya Discusses Colorism in Hollywood

Handout from Erin Kaplan
erin_kaplan@condenast.com
 (Photo: Jason Kibbler/Allure Magazine, January 2016)

Zendaya Discusses Colorism in Hollywood

The actress recognizes her privilege and talks about her struggles.

Published December 13, 2016

Zendaya is on the cover of Allure’s January 2017 issue. There’s a stunning shoot, shot by Jason Kibbler, in which she rocks the likes of Dior, Mugler and Pucci. But the accompanying profile is actually pretty revelatory. Zendaya makes thoughtful statements about a range of thorny topics, once again showing that she’s more than just your average Disney starlet. 

Thank you @allure for having me on your cover😊

A photo posted by Zendaya (@zendaya) on

She of course discusses the 2015 Oscars. It was her first major red carpet and she showed up looking stunning in a Vivienne Westwood dress, her hair in locs. It should have just been a simple “best dressed” moment. But then E! correspondent Giuliana Rancic referenced the star’s hairstyle, saying it looked like she “smelled like patchouli and weed.” Rancic’s comments ignited a nationwide conversation about race and cultural appropriation, and Zendaya herself gave the perfect response. 

A photo posted by Zendaya (@zendaya) on

Speaking about the incident today, Zendaya embraced the aftermath of the controversy. “I got all of these pictures from women wearing locs. I made it my Twitter header, and that became empowering,” she said. “It became something very positive. It allowed us to talk about things that make us uncomfortable.”

“There was a little girl for Halloween last year that was me from the Oscars,” she continued. “I think that was a big moment not just for me but for women of color. It’s a step in the right direction. But we have a long way to go.”

Zendaya is becoming a big star. But she still recognizes the struggle for actresses of color, who are subject to unfair and often blatantly racist casting practices. “I ask myself, Would I get the same opportunities — would I have this role or that role — if I were a darker-skinned black woman? And the answer is no,” she says. “But the real thing is how do you take what you’ve been given and use it to better the situations of people that are your peers, your brothers and sisters?”

She also discussed her famous style. Of her stylist, Law Roach, she said, “We don’t do pretty. Pretty is boring.”

And she addressed her own ability to consistently slay. “I love to slay a red carpet. When I step on one, I’m a different person,” she said, “like Sasha Fierce and Beyoncé.” Yes, girl.

Written by Jocelyn Silver

(Photo: Jason Kibbler/Allure Magazine, January 2016)

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