Vanity Fair Article:
Zendaya called Giuliana Rancic's critique of her 2015 Oscars' hair “ignorant” at the time, but in a new cover interview with W magazine she explained it's also what led her to realize the impact she could have on how the public views people of color and promote real cultural change.
That year, the actress attended the Academy Awards in a white, silk, off-the-shoulder Vivienne Westwood column gown which she paired with waist-skimming dreadlocks pulled back into a half-up style. Rancic, the then-E! News anchor and Fashion Police host, said Zendaya's hair looked like "she smells like patchouli oil and weed." In her W interview, the actress said of Rancic's comment and the subsequent conversation about race that ensued, “That’s how change happens. And it made me think, How could I always have a lasting impact on what people saw and associated with people of color?”
Zendaya, who was 19 years old at the time, stood up for herself on Instagram after Rancic's offensive comment, writing, “There is a fine line between what is funny and disrespectful. 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.” She continued, “To say that an 18-year-old young woman with locs must smell of patchouli oil or 'weed' is not only a large stereotype but outrageously offensive. I don’t usually feel the need to respond to negative things but certain remarks cannot go unchecked.”
She also told Good Morning America that while crafting her response, “I had to stop myself from being ignorant and being a kid...I had to really take my time and think about what my parents taught me, which is the most important things in the world are your voice and your knowledge, being that they're both educators. So I sat in my room and I used both of those things.”
Rancic initially apologized to Zendaya via a tweet, saying, “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!!!” She followed that up by issuing an apology on air, saying, “As you know, Fashion Police is a show that pokes fun at celebrities in good spirit, but I do realize that something I said last night did cross the line. I just want everyone to know that I didn't intend to hurt anybody, but I have learned it's not my intent that matters. It's the result. And the result is people are offended, including Zendaya, and that is not okay. Therefore, I want to say to Zendaya, and anyone else out there that I hurt, that I'm so sincerely sorry. This really has been a learning experience for me. I learned a lot today and this incident has taught me to be a lot more aware of cliches and stereotypes, and how much damage they can do. And that I am responsible, as we all are, to not perpetuate them further.”