"It made me think, 'How could I always have a lasting impact on what people saw and associated with People of Color?'"
Zendaya is taking a look back at Giuliana Rancic's controversial comments about the dreadlocks she wore at the 2015 Academy Awards.
When discussing Zendaya's red carpet look on an episode of "Fashion Police" at the time, Rancic made a remark about the actress' African hairstyle, saying, "I feel like she smells like patchouli oil and weed." Zendaya later spoke out, sharing a lengthy statement in which she described Rancic's comments as "outrageously offensive."
Over six years later, the "Euphoria" star, now, 24, revisited the incident in an interview with W Magazine for their new cover story and recalled standing up for herself.
"That's how change happens," Zendaya said. "And it made me think, 'How could I always have a lasting impact on what people saw and associated with People of Color?'"
Back in 2015, the "Malcolm & Marie" star addressed Rancic's comments in a statement on Instagram.
"There is a fine line between what is funny and disrespectful," Zendaya wrote at the time. "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."
"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," she continued. "I don't usually feel the need to respond to negative things but certain remarks cannot go unchecked."
Zendaya later added, "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."
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Rancic later took to Twitter to apologize to Zendaya.
"Dear @Zendaya, I'm sorry I offended you and others," she tweeted. "I was referring to a bohemian chic look. Had NOTHING to do with race and NEVER would!!!"
Meanwhile, a few months later, Zendaya weighed in on what possibly needed to be changed about "Fashion Police" in the wake of the controversy.
"I wanted this to be a positive experience, for people to learn from it, people to grow from it," she told Entertainment Tonight in April 2015. "And that's all that I hope is their show is able to learn and grow and hopefully, positive, be more positive."