Do you remember when Giuliana Rancic said Zendaya looked like she smells of “patchouli oil and weed” when the then 18-year old Disney star graced the 2015 Oscars red carpet with her hair styled in faux locs? Now 24, Zendaya recently reflected on that pivotal moment in her life and shared her perspective on Rancic’s comments all these years later.
Shining on the cover of W Magazine’s latest issue with her Malcolm & Marie co-star John David Washington, Zendaya told the publication, “That’s how change happens,” concerning the comments Rancic had made about her. Continuing to discuss how the incident changed her, Zendaya added, “And it made me think, ‘How could I always have a lasting impact on what people saw and associated with People of Color?'”
After the incident went down back in February 2015, the backlash towards Rancic was so swift that the host ended up apologizing to Zendaya the following day after her distasteful joke was made. Even though Zendaya accepted the host’s apology and received support from celebrities and everyday Black women across the globe, two months after her blunder Rancic claimed she’d even received “death threats” from some of those who had been offended by her comments on Zendaya’s look.
The actress chose to explain her reasoning for wearing the faux locs to the award show and educate people like Ransic via a post made on her Instagram. In it, Zendaya said all those years ago that “there is a fine line between what is funny and disrespectful” — and called Rancic’s comment “outrageously offensive.”
Her message later noted, “There’s 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 locs on an Oscar red carpet was to showcase them in a positive light — to remind people of color that our hair is good enough.”
The events of 2015’s Oscars showcased that Zendaya’s perspective on wearing the locs in the first place and her handling of Rancic’s comment were both influenced by her consideration of the bigger picture at stake. Now — as her most recent statement on the situation confirms — while many things about the actress have changed since then, her mindfulness of the grand scheme isn’t something that has.