Zendaya isn’t afraid to speak her mind when it comes to issues of race. In addition to registering her objection to the killings of unarmed Black people by law enforcement, the Disney star has discussed everything from Black hair to the importance of Black women in social movements. While it’s no surprise the Oakland native is so comfortable addressing the issues, she also isn’t afraid of confronting her privilege as a light skin woman in Hollywood.
During this year’s Beautycon Festival in New York City, Zendaya discussed colorism in the entertainment business and how many see her as an “acceptable version of a Black girl.”
“As a Black woman, as a light-skinned Black woman, it’s important that I’m using my privilege, my platform to show you how much beauty there is in the African-American community,” she said during a conversation with Bozoma Saint John, Uber’s chief brand officer. “I am Hollywood’s, I guess you could say, acceptable version of a Black girl and that has to change.”
“We’re vastly too beautiful and too interesting for me to just be the only representation of that,” the actor continued. “What I’m saying, it’s about creating those opportunities, sometimes. You have to create those paths. And that’s with anything, Hollywood, art, whatever.”
Zendaya isn’t just all talk, either. In her quest to ensure Black folks are represented on screen, she’s producing a film about the first Black female Vassar College graduate called A White Lie. During her conversation with Saint John, the style maven also said she feels a duty to make sure Black women of all hues are seen.
“I feel a responsibility to be a voice for the beautiful shades my people come in. Unfortunately, I have a bit of a privilege compared to my darker sisters and brothers,” she said. ” Can I honestly say that I’ve had to face the same racism and struggles as a woman with darker skin? No, I cannot. I have not walked in her shoes and that is unfair of me to say. But I’m completely behind that woman.”
“I want to be a part of the movement and growth,” Zendaya continued. “And if I get put in a position because of the color of my skin where people will listen to me, then I should use that privilege the right way.”