Zendaya has always championed diversity in Hollywood and proves that she doesn't just talk the talk, but she also walks the walk. In the past, she has called out racism, colorism and even addressed her own privilege as a biracial woman in the industry. For example, in 2018, the former Disney star attended BeautyCon and talked about how she wants to use her privilege to help other Black women.
"As a Black woman — as a light-skinned Black woman — it's important that I say, 'Listen, I can use my privilege, my platform to show you how much beauty there is in the African-American community."
"I am Hollywood's acceptable version of a Black girl and that has to change. We're vastly too beautiful and too interesting for me to be the only representation of that." - #Zendaya in conversation with @BadAssBoz at #BeautyconNYCpic.twitter.com/wZaIrJm1Tw— Danielle (@theislandiva) April 22, 2018
"I always find it weird that … I am Hollywood's acceptable version of a Black girl and that has to change. We're vastly too beautiful and too interesting for me to be the only representation of that. It's about creating those opportunities sometimes. You have to create the path."
Now, she is speaking out again. The Euphoria star and her producing partner Ashley Levinson were recently awarded The Crystal Award from the Women In Film organization, for their Netflix film Malcolm & Marie where Zendaya starred alongside John David Washington, and she spoke to Variety about co-financing the film with Malcolm & Marie director Sam Levinson, as well as giving shares to the crew members.
The movie was filmed during the pandemic.
"There was a world where we hoped that one day, we would be able to sell it and maybe make some money, but we felt that if we did that, that the people who were there every day with us, who took the risk of coming out there and making this art with us, should partake in that. It felt fair. It felt like the right thing to do."
While she called the decision to share the wealth with the film crew a "no-brainer" because the film was a "labor of love," the 25-year-old also touched on the lack of inclusion in Hollywood.
"I think any of us who have ever been in meetings or been in the rooms, you can see it every day, you feel like you are the only person there who looks like you. In my opinion, it's not a lack of talent, it's a lack of opportunity."
"There's always this idea that there can only be one and I oppose that idea. When you open the door, your job is to jam it open for other people to come in."
Being that person to open the door for others is no easy feat, which is something Zendaya can attest to. When it was announced that the actress will be cast as "MJ" in the Spider-Man franchise in 2016, she received a lot of backlash primarily because of her race. Since she has never been afraid to speak up, it was no surprise that the Spider-Man: No Way Home star would eventually respond to the outrage:
"But of course there's going to be outrage over that because for some reason some people just aren't ready. I'm like, 'I don't know what America you live in, but from what I see when I walk outside my streets of New York right now, I see lots of diversity and I see the real world and it's beautiful, and that's what should be reflected and that's what is reflected so you're just going to have to get over it.'"
Featured image by Kristy Sparow/Getty Images)