Zendaya made headlines recently when she criticized Fashion Police host Giuliana Rancic‘s comment that the dreadlocks Zendaya wore to the Oscars make her look like “she smells like patchouli oil and weed.”
The Disney Channel star took to Instagram to defend her hairstyle, crafting an eloquent statement in which she called Rancic’s comment “outrageously offensive” and cited others with dreadlocks including Selma director Ava DuVernay, author Terry McMillan and “many other men women and children of all races.”
“My wearing my hair in locs on an Oscar red carpet was to showcase them in a positive light, to remind people of color that our hair is good enough,” she wrote. “To me, locs are a symbol of strength and beauty, almost like a lion’s mane.”
Her remarks and the ensuing controversy ultimately led to a videotaped apology from Rancic, which Zendaya accepted.
Appearing on Good Morning America on Wednesday, 18-year-old Zendaya explained how she was able to respond the way she did.
“At that point it wasn’t really about me. I had to stop myself from being ignorant and being a kid,” she said. “As a teenager you want to say the first thing that comes out of your mouth, and 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.”
She hopes that her remarks inspired her young fans to “stand up for themselves.”
“Hopefully whether it be a little girl out there or a young man out there who was able to read that and see positive change and be able to stand up for themselves in any kind of incident in their lives, then I did what I’m supposed to do,” she added.
Zendaya also talked about what led to her co-producing her new Disney Channel series K.C. Undercover.
“When I came back to the Disney Channel, I had a vision of what I wanted and I wanted to bring back that old school Disney Channel flavor and really do something that is mature and edgy in the right way,” she said. “I’m really glad I’m in a space where I can do that and I can have a voice and I’m heard and I’m listened to and it’s awesome.”