Zendaya Made a Statement About Race When She Went Blonde for a Photoshoot

Zendaya is known for many things, but blonde hair isn’t usually one of them. As is one of the most revered celebrities on the planet today, she is a talented actor, singer, and model. She has also established herself as a fashion icon, with many of her looks receiving praise from critics. Additionally, the star is outspoken on various subjects. Zendaya even made a statement about race when she went blonde for a photoshoot.

Zendaya went blonde for a photoshoot to make a statement on race

In 2021, Zendaya rode high with her lineup of projects. Among them was Malcolm & Marie, a film about a couple who clashed but still loved each other through it all. As W Magazine reports, Zendaya didn’t just star, but helped conceive the idea.

The publication notes Zendaya called Euphoria creator Sam Levinson and asked if they could make a movie in her house. Thus Malcolm & Marie was born, with John David Washington playing the other titular role.

In a photoshoot, Zendaya rocked blonde hair. The spread and the wig gave off a rich aristocratic vibe that Zendaya wanted. The site noted that Zendaya and her longtime stylist Law Roach scouted various houses and went through multiple magazines and pictures to create an iconic image.

Zendaya’s goal for the shoot was to replace the traditional idea of a white society with a more modern concept of a young black couple living in a grand house. Roach commented on the look, saying, “The entire outfit—the jewels, the gorgeous gown, the stilettos—they don’t make the same statement without the blonde hair.” 

Although Zendaya’s wardrobe changed throughout the shoot, her hair was a constant. The singer looked elegant in her blonde wig, which complemented her outfits and the shoot’s theme to the tee.

Zendaya’s hair once sparked debate

Zendaya’s style always turns heads. In 2015 however, her hair sparked a conversation about race and conventional looks. As a relatively unknown Disney Channel star, Zendaya walked the Academy Awards Red Carpet with dreadlocks.

Roach carefully designed Zendaya’s captivating look. It combined high fashion with a hairstyle rarely seen on red carpets, which led to some backhanded compliments.

Shortly after the star walked the carpet, then-E! News anchor Giuliana Rancic gave a needlessly hostile comment that many perceived as racially loaded. Rancic said, “I feel like she smells like patchouli oil. Or weed.”

On Instagram, Zendaya responded. The Euphoria actor called the comment “outrageously offensive.” She 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.”

Other times Zendaya went blonde

Zendaya blonde race
Zendaya attends The Fashion Awards 2017 in partnership with Swarovski at Royal Albert Hall on December 4, 2017 in London, England. | Samir Hussein/WireImage

The W Magazine photoshoot wasn’t the first time Zendaya went blonde. In 2016, Zendaya debuted a blonde chop with blunt bangs on her Instagram. She took a break from the style with sleek straight extensions in 2017, but that same year went with a shorter blonde do.

Zendaya showed up on the red carpet at the 2017 Fashion Awards in London with a platinum blonde pixie cut. Why? “Why not?” her Instagram post explained.

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