Zendaya reflects on racially charged comments about her dreadlocks at 2015 Oscars: 'That’s how change happens'

Kerry Justich
·2 min read

Zendaya is reflecting on racially charged comments made about her 2015 Oscars red carpet look by E!'s Fashion Police co-host Giuliana Rancic.

The 24-year-old actress recalled the fallout of the remarks made specifically about her hair, styled in dreadlocks for the occasion, which Rancic said made her "feel like [Zendaya] smells like patchouli oil … or maybe weed." People across social media, including Rancic's co-host Kelly Osbourne, responded by calling on those involved to apologize and be held accountable for the statement. Zendaya herself posted a statement to Instagram where she wrote, "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."

Zendaya reflects on creating
Zendaya reflects on creating "change" in fallout from racially-charged comments about her Oscars 2015 look. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Now, Zendaya tells W Magazine, "That’s how change happens," while touching on her involvement in the uncomfortable yet important conversation. "And it made me think, How could I always have a lasting impact on what people saw and associated with people of color?"

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Zendaya has done so through both her ever-evolving looks and performances in Euphoria and Malcolm & Marie. For the W Magazine photoshoot, the actress's stylist Law Roach said that it was important for Zendaya and her co-star John David Washington to have a specific look.

"Doing a Slim Aarons shoot, but with Black actors," Roach explained to the publication. "The visuals matter. The way change happens is when people can see wealth and grandeur in a way that they are not used to seeing it."

Still, Zendaya has maintained since 2015 that she will use her voice to speak out on issues about representation and race in a productive manner.

"I just like to see positive things and positive reinforcement, so I wanted this to be a positive experience, people to learn from it, people to grow from it," she told Entertainment Tonight at the time. "And that’s all I hope is their show being able to learn and grow and hopefully be more positive."

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