Zendaya: ‘Would I have this role if I were a darker-skinned black woman? No.’


Zendaya covers the new issue of Allure. The photoshoot is really nice, although it’s pretty much a typical “young Hollywood in LA” vibe. Still, maybe it’s good to see a young African-American woman in that kind of editorial, the kind they would usually do with someone like Kate Hudson or Bella Thorne. As for the interview, Zendaya was given a lot of space to talk about cultural appropriation, her plans for future domination, and a lot more. Here’s something I learned about her: she’s the breadwinner for her family. That bugs me and makes me think of her differently. While I’ve always thought that at 20 years old, she was wise beyond her years and isn’t that a great thing? Now I think she’s wise beyond her years because she had to be, because she supports her family. You can read the full Allure piece here. Some highlights:

Her role in Spider-Man: Homecoming. “Plenty of people are like, ‘Why is she still on Disney Channel?’ Well, I waited and waited for the right part, and now I get to be in Spider- Man.”

Her new LA mansion: “Everything has been a climb. And I’ve been able to take my family and friends with me. I came from humble beginnings. I’ve never had a pool before. I’ve never lived in a house this beautiful. I appreciate everything so much more because everything I have has been worked for.”

She’s not much for cliques or squads, nor does she like to party: “I’m nice and cool with everybody, but not a lot of people know me very well. I have a very tight-knit circle. I’m just not a social butterfly. I’d rather be home with my family. I’ve never had a desire to drink.”

Supporting her family: “There is so much stress in my life. I’ve got family, a lot of people that depend on me and need me. I try to take care of everybody and sometimes that drives you crazy—you want everybody to be OK, and you’re like, Jesus, am I OK?”

Does she even want to be famous? “Eh, I don’t know. Sometimes I do; sometimes I don’t. You just see so many people who are miserable here. It’s like, Why? It’s OK to be focused, but I can’t get to a point where I don’t like what I’m doing. It’s gotta be fun and creative and good.”

She loves the red carpet though: “I love to slay a red carpet. When I step on one, I’m a different person like Sasha Fierce and Beyoncé. Honestly, I walk like an old man—the Coleman Trudge. On the red carpet, I’m this dainty, slow, elegant gazelle.”

The beef with Giuliana Rancic about her dreadlocks. “This is way bigger than a beef between us. I heard about the comment through Twitter, and my first reaction was angry—I got really mad. Then I realized this has nothing to do with us. It was one small look into an overall misconception about a large group of people. I got all of these pictures from women wearing locs. I made it my Twitter header, and that became empowering. It became something very positive. It allowed us to talk about things that make us uncomfortable… I think that was a big moment not just for me but for women of color. It’s a step in the right direction. But we have a long way to go.”

Guilt about her success: “I ask myself, Would I get the same opportunities—would I have this role or that role—if I were a darker-skinned black woman? And the answer is no. But the real thing is how do you take what you’ve been given and use it to better the situations of people that are your peers, your brothers and sisters?”

[From Allure]

I completely understand what she’s saying about her success as a mixed race woman in the industry, and the comparison to the missed opportunities for some darker-skinned women. But just the fact that Zendaya is bringing it up in an Allure interview is great. She shouldn’t feel guilty about who she is and the success she has, because honestly, the success she has as a mixed race woman is still profoundly unsettling to so many racists, bigots and trolls. More power to her. As for Zendaya financially supporting her family and not even knowing if she wants this… typical child star stuff. I hope she keeps her head on straight. Her parents do sound a lot more grounded than, say, the Lohans. But it’s still going to cause issues down the road.


Photos courtesy of Allure.

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120 Responses to “Zendaya: ‘Would I have this role if I were a darker-skinned black woman? No.’”

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  1. Aiobhan Targaryen says:

    Good for her for acknowledging that colorism exists. The more we as black women talk about stuff like this with each other, the better it can get in the long run. I don’t know how I feel about talking about this subject in this magazine, but that is another topic altogether.

    I think she will be fine in the long run because she seems to have a solid head on her shoulders and is aware of the larger world around her. She just needs to find the balance between family and work. She is old enough now to start setting boundaries (whether they be emotional or financial) with her family members about what she can and cannot do for them. The test is whether or not she is willing to put up those boundaries for herself.

    • N says:

      I am a black woman too but I think the larger issue is biracial actresses such as zendaya, who is half white and half black, taking roles that are meant for black Women. Full black Women. With two black parents.
      That may not be the case here but it usually is, starting with the most famous one, halle berry (whom I actually like ).
      And cue someone saying “well they look black”.First of all, that is not the point. Second, look up a color chart or better yet, use your own eyes and you’ll see most are right smack in the middle of their parents like most of us, meaning they don’t look anymore one race than the other, that’s just what we have been trained to think.
      I actually thought zendaya was Thai before I knew her race.
      I had no idea she was half black let alone black period. She looks Thai, Vietnamese, to me.
      Anywho, lets start with giving black Women roles meant for them no matter what their skin shade then we can go deeper with hiring dark skinned black Women as well. But this whole thing sounds strange coming from someone who isn’t even a black woman!

      • NastyWoman` says:

        I hope your comment doesn’t get deleted, because it raises a lot of issues we struggle with in the black community and I’d like to see the dialogue that evolves.

        First, Zendaya identifies as a black woman, so for you to say that this is coming “from someone who isn’t even a black woman” is strange, to say the least.

        Second, I get your point about roles that are meant for “black” people being given to those who do not look black. It is a pet peeve for me as well when I see a show or movie where there are two black parents and then a bi-racial child (the Cosbys, My Wife and Kids, Black-ish, etc.) And it’s like, “wait a minute, we have EYES!” It’s like casting directors in Hollywood don’t know what fully black (as opposed to bi-racial) people look like. It’s as if, as long as someone has melanin of any degree, they are “black.”

        Last, I’m glad someone – anyone – is speaking about colorism. No, Zendaya wouldn’t be in her position if she were dark. Glad she acknowledges it.

        She’s awesome and I wish her much success.

      • Monkeeeyz says:

        When I first saw her I thought she was Thai/white like Chrissy Teigen or filipina/white like Nicole Scherzinger because that’s about as brown as Hollywood will go.

        It’s funny how mix raced people can come out looking like the entire rainbow. My SIL is Indonesian/white and people often think she is half black/half white.

      • Aiobhan Targaryen says:

        I am really not sure what I want to address first: the gross ignorance in your comment or the somewhat valid points that are buried in your ignorant ass comment. This is coming from a “full” black woman by the way.

        Please give me a few examples of what roles she is stealing from “full” black women. Is she portraying a historical figure who had two black parents? If not, then just stop. Kids who come from interracial relationships are not half of anything. They are wholly a part of two different cultures and should be allowed to claim both sides. She has every right to try out for the “African American female age 18-25 roles as much as a “full” black woman. She also has the right to go after roles that could go to white women. There are biracial children all over the brown spectrum as there are “full” black kids. Both of Prince’s parents were black but some people would easily believe that one of his parents was white. Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass had white fathers but you would have never had known that by just looking at them- especially Douglass. Tatiana Ali also is a child of an interracial relationship as well. The point is your phenotype should not dictate what culture you are a part of- unless you are Rachel Dolezal or Rachel Dolezal adjacent.

        The Semang people of Malaysia and the Aborigines of Australia are Asians who actually “look” like they are descendants of Sub-Saharan Africans. Ethiopians and Somalis also have “Asian” features, but no one is trying to take the black card away from either group.

        Lastly, your last paragraph is mostly garbage. First, who do you define as a black woman? Why start at the surface with light skin black woman and then ” go deeper with darker skinned black women? Both women are equally black just with different skin tones.

      • IlsaLund says:

        Zendaya identifies herself as black culturally, as does Halle Berry and Barack Obama. No one comments on bi-racial males (Shemar Moore, for example) taking roles for “full blacks”—-whatever that means. Most African Americans have a percentage of European ancestry….a legacy from slavery. I have two black parents but my DNA is over 30% European and I look like Zendaya. So does that exclude me from taking black roles? And yes, my parents are fully recognizable as being African American. In fact, my entire extended family the skin tones range from dark to light. And we never thought much of it or got hung up on what shade anyone of us were. We know our history and culturally we know who we are.

      • N says:

        @NastyWoman I think more non race specific roles should be created and more roles for mixed race women.
        And sorry if it came across like I was trying to take away from how she identifies! Everyone can I. D. However they like of course and I respect that.
        Zendaya seems like she has a good head on her shoulders and I wish her nothing but the best.

        Here’s the thing. Every race has firm boundaries when it comes to who is or who isn’t of their specific race or ethnicity, everyone except black Americans it seems.
        I don’t know if I agree that it’s healthy for us to not have boundaries because from what I can see a lot of our young black kids are having self esteem issues because they see someone representing them who doesn’t look like them.
        Up until recently many kids thought she was Thai and for a young black girl to be told that is who she should be and look like…it does mess with their heads.

        This whole anyone can identify as black is very unique to African Americans.
        Africans of various different tribes, nationalities, ethcnities do not do what we do. They respect that they are half and half and that’s that. No ill will, no agenda, just an acknowledgement that they are their own unique race as biracials.
        A half kenyan half white could not just say “I am Kenyan and I represent you!” They would be laughed out of there.
        Sorry for the lengthy reply but hope you get where I’m coming from!

      • N says:

        @Aiobhan Targaryen
        I wasn’t sure I should bother to reply because we disagree on the most basic level, that is, on who is or isn’t black.
        For me there is a difference between phenotype and genotype first off.
        Second and most important, for me it’s simple. Do you have two black parents.
        If you have two black parents, you are black. No matter how light or dark you are.
        And to reach all the way to slavery to justify black women’s (and it’s never black men, they get to be represented by full black men) erasure in the media is just…I have no words.
        What I meant with the last part of your comment was let’s start with light skinned black Women because right now not even light skinned black Women are represented by actual light skinned black Women, but instead biracials like halle, like zendaya, like thandie,paula, zoe k etc let’s start there! Because it’s laughable that not even those are repped by full black Women.
        Again, I have nothing but love and respect for all of these actresses but we must be able to talk about black women’s erasure in popular media without people getting offended left and right.

      • NastyWoman` says:

        @N – I got most of what you were saying, which is why I said I hoped your comment stayed up.

        African Americans ARE unique because they have that European blood interwoven due to slavery, so that they do range in color. However, I grew up in the inner city and have lived in many places with a majority black population and while there are a lot of light skinned people, they do not look like Zendaya or Paula Patton, Thandie Newton, Lisa Bonet, etc. Yet, almost every black family on television (where both parents are black) have an obviously biracial child who is being passed off as “fully” black. What irks is that instead of calling that out and demanding full representation, we shrug and accept it. That is NOT to say that people like Zendaya and Thandie and Paula should not get roles, they should. But darker skinned women should get roles as well. And roles should be created that incorporate that multi-culturism in our society (for instance, it would be okay to have Zendaya have a white parent and a black parent in shows, instead of giving her two black parents when she’s clearly half-white). At least I “think” that’s what N was trying to say.

      • teacakes says:

        @N – ‘everyone can identify as ____’ is FAR from unique to African Americans, FYI.

        I live in a country of mostly brown people of varying shades and literally all you need to be considered one of us, is one parent of that ethnicity. Bonus points if that parent gives you an Indian-sounding name/surname. My mixed-race/Anglo-Indian friends may have part ‘foreign’ ancestry but that doesn’t disqualify them from being Indian!

        Same with Native American people, I believe – from everything I’ve known, the only criteria to identify as one, is having Native ancestry in your recent past/being enrolled in a tribe. None of the ‘you don’t look like one, so you can’t be one’ going on here.

        Colorism is a very real issue but refusing to acknowledge someone with a black parent as being a black person at all is deeply unfair, if you don’t mind my saying so.

      • Em Light says:

        I definitely see what you’re saying, even if the execution wasn’t that great lol. I always found it weird when a biracial person only identifies with one of their races almost as though the other race isn’t as important, not to say that she can’t of course, but Zendaya (and others) is black just as much as she is white.
        She’s a very lightskinned biracial woman, it’s a fact. And because of that fact most directors will pick her over a darkskin woman, the same way they would pick a black person that has a lighter skin tone over a person with darker skin.
        But good for her on acknowledging it.

      • jenn12 says:

        As someone from a multiracial family, I do not understand why all the attention is on the biracial women taking roles. What about the men? Obama is called the first black president and he is actually biracial and no one talks about that. What about the biracial MEN taking acting roles? Why is it always on the women alone? The current of added sexism is too strong to ignore.

      • TJ says:

        So ignorant to deny her of her black heritage. I guess since it’s only ‘half’, she doesn’t count. That is awful.

      • N says:

        Because it’s mostly biracial women playing black Women on the screen.
        Black men have male privilege btw which is probably why they have so many full black men of various shades that get to represent them on screen.

      • Scotchy says:

        Thank you for writing this comment!! As a beige bi ethnic writer, being hired to be the “black ” voice when I am not African American is trying and frustrating. As a mixie I choose to identify as just that mixed. I think we shouldn’t assume other mixes identify as there darker half it’s just what the world identifies them as. We identify as ourselves. Ourselves that happen to be the product of an inter ethnic relationship. Finding our voice is a tricky journey especially when we live in a world that loves categories.
        It’s nice to see that other commenters understand and recognize the differences.

      • N says:

        That’s not quite true for black people who have native am. heritage.
        I don’t want to get into it but you can Google the whole controversy over that.

      • Carmen says:

        Whoa. Hold up. Full black woman? What does a full black Woman even look like or is supposed to look like?

        Black in this country is ebony, ivory, and every shade in between. My mom was a black woman who looked like a white woman but always identified as black. My dad was a black man who looked Latino. I am a black woman who has been asked by people I hardly know if I am French, Spanish, Greek, Indian, Turkish or God knows what.

        It’s bad enough that white people have a stereotyped attitude about what black people are “supposed” to look like but to have this coming from other black people is unconscionable. I am what i am and I dont have to explain myself or my color to anyone.

      • jenn12 says:

        @N- I see what you’re saying, but I believe it is also that women have to always be hypersexualized, and therefore they choose lighter skinned women due to their outdated beliefs. But it bothers me that it is always on the women to defend and explain themselves.

      • almondmilk says:



        I hope you don’t take this the wrong way.

        But your post is off to me.

        I only say this because there’s this new thing where people with agendas (see racists) are fronting as black people online.

        It’s become a joke on black Twitter because they are so easily spotted. Lol

        So when you go off talking about “fully black” my ‘black-dar’ goes off. We don’t speak like that. African Americans are not ‘fully’ anything.
        Never have been. Okay maybe the day after we got off the ship. But not for long.

        As for colorism. Yes it exists. Especially within the groups themselves. As for Hollywood – these things go in cycles. I’m old enough to remember when casting wanted to make sure people knew a black person was cast, so very light folks weren’t cast in too much of anything so as not to confuse the issue. This was back when casting was mostly whites only, and a few blacks. – and the few people of color in other groups were put in their very specific boxes (Latino maids/gardeners for example).

        The shows featuring black families of different skin tones seem pretty representative to me. you really can’t tell who has one black parent and who has two. Prince had two black parents and Lenny Kravitz had one. Zendaya has one black parent and Rhianna has two. Chris Brown and Steph Curry have two black parents ea. and Drake has one.

        Could Phylicia Rashad have a daughter that looks like Lisa Bonet?? Sure. We can’t control who gets more or less melanin in already mixed African American families.

        Also, in my opinion… I think Zendaya got the role because she’s beautiful and the right size (see double zero). I wouldn’t have been shocked if they gave it to Kyle Bunbury the star of Pitch, who’s equally beautiful and about 5 shades darker.

      • Odette says:

        Isn’t this such an incredibly difficult subject!? There’s no way to talk about it without ruffling feathers. To share, I’m biracial with two black parents (adopted). And I’ll be honest, to this day, I struggle with identity politics (and I’m…ahem…mature). I’ve always considered myself black. In fact, I didn’t, actually, know I was half white until my twenties; looking back, I have to laugh, because my complexion is lighter than Mariah Carey, but it never occurred to me that one of my bio parents could be white.

        This is a weekly conversation in my life:

        Someone: “What are you?”
        Me: “Black.”
        Someone: “Really? No, I mean, one of your parents has to be something else. What are you?”

        Ugh. All the time. And then I feel like I have to launch into this whole thing about being adopted, yada, yada, yada……Because people really are relentless at times. They WANT TO KNOW what you are! And it’s always uncomfortable, because I know people don’t want to here a long — and quite frankly TMI — story. And some people give me that judgment look, like I just shared too much info with them. And I’m all, “But you asked, and you wouldn’t drop it!”

        I’ve tried so many ways to answer “the question.” I’ve gone with the “human” thing — doesn’t work. (And, I don’t know, I feel a little smug saying it. Because I do understand that knowing what people “are” is a somewhat unavoidable human nature quirk.)

        Anyway, yeah. It’s a tough subject, with so many variables.

      • almondmilk says:


        These posts seem off to me.

        Again no black person i know (African American) would ever say that Zendaya is “clearly,” anything. (You said she is clearly half white)

        That’s bananas.

        She’s clearly mixed race with African and European admixture.

        BECAUSE African Americans are mixed race period.

        We would never tag blue eyed Vanessa Williams, or green eyed Rhianna, or Beyoncé as being “clearly half white,” and they all have two black parents and don’t look any less multiracial than Zendaya.

        Black people know better.

      • NastyWoman` says:

        @Almond Joy – We can agree to disagree on what Black people “know.” I am black, not African American; meaning I am not American. But I’ve lived in the US since I was 6 and grew up in black neighborhoods. Not many Zendayas walking around (unless they are half something – Puerto Rican [of European descent] or white). And to my eyes, Zendaya looks “clearly” half-white. Light skinned black people, yes, I’ve seen. Even Beyonce and Rhianna to me, with their light skin, but mostly African features and hair don’t look like they have a white parent (further down the chain – grandparents or great-grandparents, yes, but not a white parent. And, yes, I know that there are people who DO have a white parent – like Heidi Klum’s kids – who can be dark). I, personally, find it “off” when casting directors cannot do their job and find the right people for the job. If there are two black parents, don’t cast the child who is “clearly” bi-racial. Change it, so there is a black and white parent (that’s okay by me). That’s all I’m saying. There is nothing “wrong” with being bi-racial or light skinned or however else one wants to put it, my issue is with the lack of representation for the most part of people who don’t look a certain way. And let’s not pretend there wasn’t a “paper bag” test not so long ago to keep darker people out of society events, jobs, etc.

      • Lynnie says:

        @almondmilk “African-Americans aren’t fully anything” “African-Americans are mixed race period”

        Not trying to pick a fight I swear, but this isn’t entirely true. Yes, the majority of black people in the US have European ancestry in them, but there is a (growing) population of African immigrants, and their children (aka me lol) who are fully African who would fall underneath the African-American umbrella. Again, not trying to sound overly pedantic, or criticize you just wanted to get that out there.

      • almondmilk says:


        You reference ‘almondjoy’ but i think you mean me ‘almondmilk,’ as you quote some of my previous post. Please excuse of I’m wrong.

        Also, are you and ‘N’ the same poster – or from the same country? Maybe that’s why there appears to be a disconnect from African American culture. Are you from another country?

        Let me again state the obvious:

        I don’t know where you grew up, but i grew up in the midwest. Been black all my life. Lived in black neighborhoods, cities and towns. Black people in America have never ever looked just one way or any way in which you can decipher who has the one white parent and who does not. There are no ‘fully black’ (your or N’s term) neighborhoods or regions that I’ve been to.

        As for there “not being many Zendaya’s walking around?” That’s a bizarre statement. She’s light brown, and relaxes her hair and at times has coily/kinky edges. That descriptor comprised about 1/3rd of my highschool. Are they as pretty as Zendaya? Some were definitely as pretty (this is where I say though i think Zendaya is cute, she’s no Meagan Goode)- but many were not. Like with most things, most people in general ‘walking around,’ are average in attractiveness. It’s why there ‘aren’t that many Angelina Jolie’s walking around,’ in white neighborhoods either.

        As for you name dropping some of the same African American people that I did and saying you can tell who has the one white parent and who does not. That is b.s. Lmao There is no way anyone would be able to say just based on physical characteristics that President Obama and Frederick Douglas were the biracial ones while Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and Senator Adam Clayton Powell were not.


        Just like if Zendaya is cast in a role are you saying Vanessa Williams or Terrence Howard couldn’t play her parents and be believable??!

        Come on now.

        Yes, there is colorism. It’s within groups and in the industry. As i pointed out, not too long ago actors who were light were getting the short end of the casting stick because productions did not want the black character to be ambiguous.

        With high profile roles and reviews going to Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Taraji Henson, and younger up and comer stunning actresses like Lupita, Yara Shahidi, Aja Naomi King, Kyle Bunbury, and Janelle Monae and many more, things are looking good and up for actresses of all hues and in particular the deeper ones.

      • Original T.C. says:

        Back on topic of colorism. I’m glad Zendaya brought it up in a mainstream magazine. It is a major problem facing Black women from the day of slavery to now, both Black and White society tell us it’s all in our minds. However there are now legit research studies to back us up.
        —– ——-
        Colorism grew out of White Supremecy and has been shown to lead to lower self esteem, less job opportunities, higher poverty rates, more severed jail sentences, lower marriage rates, etc amongst Brown to Dark skinned Black WOMEN compared to their lighter skinned or bi-racial peers.

      • almondmilk says:


        No offense taken at all.

        Really pleased about the growing pop of African immigrants.☺️

        However, I think it should be noted that the term ‘African-Americans,’ (like Afro-American before it) was coined by the descendants of slaves in America.

        Not saying you can’t ID how you want and call yourself that too.

        But it should be acknowledged that the creation and use of the term here in the Americas, was because the slaves and their descendants had our specific identity, languages, culture, and ethnicity stolen from us, which is why we reference the whole continent of origin. We can’t name a country or place.

        You can.

        I’m assuming you can point to the town, village, ethnic and geo region you come from on the continent, and that you have a language you speak as well – so technically you don’t HAVE to say ‘African-American,’ ….you could say Kenyan- American or Somali-American or Congolese-American or Senagalese-American or Egyptian-American.

        Technically, I’m not even sure if a recent Senagalese immigrant, for instance, is recognized as one of the 4 historically oppressed minority groups.

        After all, my great great great grandmother toiled in the fields in South Carolina, was raped at 13 and lived her life as a slave. Her descendants faced segregation, discrimination, violence, terror and had their human rights trampled by this country.

        Not saying immigrant groups didn’t have it bad elsewhere or that they couldn’t still have it bad here.

        But what specific groups call themselves actually mean more than what we think. Be it gov census data and programs and funding or what have you.

      • Greenieweenie says:

        I wonder if N is even American? Because “well, they look black” meant everything in uS history–and still does. “One drop”=anyone who looked vaguely black WAS black under Jim Crow. Looking black has always determined your destiny, whether in part or in full, in America.

        A lot of people come from other countries and say, “I never knew I was black until I came to the US.” Because if you look black, you are black in America.

      • Erica_V says:

        You must not mean this role in particular because she’s playing MJ who in all previous comics and movies has been a red headed white girl. To say she’s “stealing” it from a “fully” black actress is wrong on all sorts of levels.

      • Jenn says:

        Odette- I can’t imagine the balls of some people asking what you are! I am white, of Scottish heritage, so maybe this is my ignorance showing through, but I would never dream of asking someone ‘what’ they are!
        I don’t care what colour you are, are you nice or do you kick puppies? That’s the kind of thing that matters to me.

      • Lukie says:

        In the U.S. where it is estimated that Black Americans carry almost a quarter European in them, how are we defining “Fully Black”?

        Because let’s be honest, plenty of us look mixed in the U.S. and don’t have a white parent or grandparent…

        I applaud her recognizing colorism because many act like it does not exist. May she become powerful enough to open the door for all her Black sisters in Hollywood one day…

      • ichsi says:

        Reading almondmilk’s amazing commentary makes me once again long for up and down votes on this site. Brava!

    • Almondjoy says:

      Aiobhan, I also love that she acknowledges colorism. It’s very real and it definitely needs to be discussed instead of overlooked.

      “I don’t know how I feel about talking about this subject in this magazine, but that is another topic altogether.”

      ^^ THIS. As a sidenote, I agree with what you’re saying about Allure as well… when I was a teenager I had a subscription to that magazine for a few years and I was shocked to see that they rarely if ever featured anyone who looked like me. My mom encouraged me to write to them, and I did this 3 times. This magazine calls itself “The Beauty Expert” but they only showed one type of beauty. I remember finally seeing Mariah Carey on the front page after a year and thinking to myself “well.. that’s a start.” Maybe Zendaya’s comments will be eye opening for writers and readers of Allure.

      • NastyWoman` says:

        “Maybe Zendaya’s comments will be eye opening for writers and readers of Allure” – They won’t. People are self-centered. As long as THEY are being featured and get their needs met, they don’t care about those that aren’t.

      • Aiobhan Targaryen says:

        @ Almondjoy

        I had to stop buying Vogue, Harpers, and Teen Vogue while in high school and college because 90% of the editorials featured white women. This is also the same for romance novels. Seeing phrases like “All American Beauty” became increasingly discouraging to see because the words were not matching up with what they were showing. There are many tall thin black, first nation, and women from other non-white cultures who were born and raised in the North, Central, and South America who could have been put into those editorials as well. But they only see white women when they cast for the shoots.

        I think I have to agree with NastyWoman here. Most of the non-black readers of Allure (and possibly this very site) are not going to pick up on that talking point at all. I think it is something that touches more closely to the Black experience that it will go over a lot of non-black readers heads. Maybe I am wrong, though.

      • teacakes says:

        @Aiobhan – can’t speak for the other mags but I have noticed more black models in Teen Vogue over the last year or so, and featured in regular spreads, not the preachy ‘let’s feel good about ourselves/beauty is for ALL skins!’ type token editorials. Which is huge considering you hardly ever saw black models in the fashion/beauty spreads even what, five years ago?

        It may not be unconnected to the fact that the new EIC of Teen Vogue (not that new, now) is a WOC, but it’s a great change and I could do with more of it. And more of the political commentary too!

    • N says:

      I think I’ve been pretty clear on this whole issue and I can’t get much clearer than I have been so I’m going to peace out and let you ladies carry on. I have enjoyed the discussion!
      Take care

      • Littlestar says:

        @ Teacakes
        There are issues for mixed people who identify as Native American, all communities have those issues. Not only because sometimes people who don’t look Native are not accepted or specifically because they are mixed they’re not accepted but also because we have to deal with a lot of fakes who claim a mythical Native American great great grandmother, sometimes even to justify cultural misuse or appropriation or racism (example, “Indians are drunks, it’s not racist because I am 1/32 Cherokee” has literally been said to me). Some tribes do accept anyone as long as you can prove you have an ancestor within their tribe but not all do and it doesn’t guarantee social acceptance. Some individual Native American people certainly believe in blood quantum and don’t like mixing. Some individuals can be racist too, such as not accepting people who have mixed Native and African ancestry because they have African ancestry. I’m mixed, native and European, and I haven’t dealt with a lot of push back from other natives (maybe because I look brown and am not mistaken for white) but I have encountered people who feel like I cannot identify as Native because I have a European parent. But thankfully I have met a lot of amazing people who accept me as I am. Just saying it’s not that simplistic for native people. Racial aspect aside there’s a lot of emphasis on culture as well, knowledge and participation.

      • Tiffany H says:

        N. As a dark skinned african American woman I appreciate you speaking. I work as a actress in L.A and Im tired of the colorism I experience


      @AIOBHANTARGARYEN I won’t comment on your 1st, 2nd and last paragraphs because as a black African I find American identity politics confusing af. As someone with an interest in population genetics though, I have to nitpick your third paragraph.

      I’m not sure what ‘Black’ means in your neck of the woods. Where I’m from, ‘Black’ as a racial classification only applies to people of Sub-Saharan African descent. I’m not sure if that’s what you’re doing, but I find the classification of the Semang people and related populations as ‘Black’ incredibly ignorant and borderline offensive. They are genetically closer to East Asians (and even Europeans) than to any Sub-Saharan populations. They are about as black as your evarage Swede. People who call them black are those who look at their phenotype and assume that they’re part of the African Diaspora. The semang, andamese etc are actually a perfect demonstration of how absurd the concept of race is, but that’s a conversation for another day.

      I’m also confused about Horn Africans having Asian features. Asia is a large continent with very diverse phenotypes, what exactly are “Asian” features? It’s also not true that no one questions Horn Africans’ blackness, there are also quite a few of them who consider themselves “caucasoid” and therefore not black.

  2. Ramona says:

    There A LOT of child breadwinners who dont have a fraction of this maturity. And a few ordinary teens with it. I think she was always going to be a self aware individual, fame just gives her the platform to showcase it.

  3. Bitchy says:

    I don’t get how Zendaya got any parts with her lacking acting talents and lacking skills. Look at her pictures: Just opening your mouth as if you were going down on your knees in front of a man with his trousers down …… in my books that isn’t enough and she does that in any pic.

    Btw. does she ever close her mouth? Every pic has the same mime and the same pose. Is that skills nowadays?

  4. Swak says:

    I hope she has a good financial advisor – someone outside the family because that many could be gone in an instant if she isn’t careful.

  5. Erinn says:

    Something about her annoys me. I’m not sure what it is. I think I get the same feeling with any very young star who is touted as being so much more mature than her peers.

    I was like that in a lot of ways. I didnt have a cushy upbringing. I grew up early in a lot of ways. I never partied. I spoke intelligently. But I can tell you – while keeping it together and coming off as mature for my age I still was a teen/young adult and I was BSing most of it. I tend to think these stars are doing the same. Just because they’re not stumbling out of clubs and they can say the right things doesn’t mean they’re actually as mature as they come off.

    I don’t really understand her quote about staying with Disney either. If she had been taking other roles would she not still have gotten the Spider-Man one? Would she still not have had the same look and been the same age? I don’t see how a little more exposure would have hurt her chances. Not that she should just jump at every role presented but still. It seemed strange.

    I really don’t like the photos. Which is a shame because you can tell she’s a very pretty girl. But the slack mouthed photos are foolish. It wouldn’t even have been so bad as one but both major photos are that same expression.she looks half disgusted half recovering from crying. It’s just so odd looking. But its hit a point where it seems that 75% of the celebs are making that face in shoots lately.

    • Tanya says:

      I get the Spider Man quote. You’ve got a limited amount of time and resources, and what you choose not to do often matters just as much as what you do. I’m assuming she means she was offered a bunch of roles that weren’t strategic for her.

      As for the maturity bit. I basically raised my siblings. I was doing my parents’ taxes by the time I was in middle school. She probably has a lot of life skills that most of her peers don’t have, but she probably doesn’t have other skills that come from being allowed to grow up in a secure and supportive environment. Like everything else, it’s a tradeoff.

    • Val says:

      Yeah there’s something about her that bugs me as well, but I can’t put my finger on it. She… acts a little too self-aware, maybe?

  6. Alleycat says:

    I thought both her parents were teachers? She may make more money than them but I don’t think she’s financially holding them together. She just bought her own house.

    • NastyWoman` says:

      I think one or both of them uprooted their lives to give her a shot at success. Unfortunately, you can’t hold a full-time job and ferry kids around to auditions, meeting with agents, casting directors, etc.

      They can probably go back to work now, but while she was “making it,” I’m sure they had to dedicated almost all their time to it.

  7. Adele Dazeem says:

    Her cool, calm mature demeanor makes me sad for her. So young and so pressured. Ugh.

  8. Bex says:

    She seems like she’s got a good head on her shoulders, but I always feel so uneasy every time I read somebody who started out before they were an adult saying that they’re supporting their family or that their family sacrificed a lot for them (see also: Millie Bobby Brown). Not every child star ends up a wreck obviously, but it’s still a lot of emotional responsibility.

    • jwoolman says:

      I didn’t interpret what she said as meaning she was financially supporting her family. They were doing fine before. If one of her parents had to be with her full time then that parent would have been on the payroll, just as a non-relative doing that job would have been. But that’s not the same as the parents pushing the kid in front of the camera to support the family! She seems quite self-driven.

      I’ve seen parents invest similar amounts of time so their kid can play in a sport that requires hours of driving time each day. Or for kids with musical talent.

      She probably just meant that she could do things for her family and friends because she has the money now. That’s not unusual.

      • Bex says:

        Fair enough, I see that your interpretation is perhaps more accurate- it was the ‘a lot of people depend on me’ line that gave me pause. I was a very very dedicated dancer when I was younger and aimed to make it a career before injuries derailed that plan so I totally understand parents who invest hours to help their kids reach their goals. I’m eternally grateful to mine! It’s just this industry in particular where you see parents putting unfair expectations on their children and the kid ends up feeling responsible if they don’t ‘make it’. But like you said, this doesn’t really seem to be the case with Zendaya and that’s a good thing :)

  9. Kate says:

    This is going to be a long thread

  10. teacakes says:

    That quote about supporting her family reminds me of a certain other child star who landed a role in Spider-Man as a teenager – Kirsten Dunst. Who is one of the best actresses working in her age group right now, despite earlier struggles. I really do think Zendaya will be ok.

  11. Lindsey says:

    “Worked for”

    You went places and were pretty. How hard!

  12. kennedy says:

    Not ashamed to admit it – I LOVE her show, KC Undercover. Yes at 27yo, I tune in every week to Disney to watch her SLAY SLAY SLAY as a spy. I think she’s so great – smart, gorgeous, superb comedic timing, and has a great personality. Hope to see more of her on the big screen, too. She was on GMA the other day and I fell a little more in love with her. I’m here for Zendaya domination 2017!

  13. Tig says:

    I saw the previews for the “new” Spider-Man- and hope she’s not counting on multiple films in the franchise mode. While she and the young male lead are very cute, the trailer was an absolute mess. Maybe they work her into Avengers movies-?.

  14. minx says:

    I think she is unique and gorgeous.

  15. Lynnie says:

    This is why representation is important. Not only on the big screen, but behind the scenes as well. I can’t help but think that if there were more ethnic casting directors, writers, movie execs, set designers, etc then some of these problems wouldn’t be as prevalent.

    But it’s not a total Hollywood thing either, and like Aiobhan said we need to stop treating it like the elephant in the room not only with black women, but with black men and the rest of society in general. Colorism was a big part of American/Western colonial life for quite a while. I don’t know why we pretend that just because most of us gained rights/independence 40-50+ years ago it suddenly stopped.

    • NastyWoman` says:

      This! I’m just mad it’s all the way down here. LOL. I loathe when people try to shoo off colorism with the old “well, black people are all shades. My cousin’s third cousin’s momma had green eyes and blonde hair and she was black.” And that’s great, but it doesn’t change the fact that given a choice between the green-eyed, blonde hair third cousin’s momma and a “round the way” black woman who looks like a black woman, casting directors would choose the former. AND that we’ve been conditioned to believe that’s more attractive and that’s what will sell the magazine, the movie, the show, etc.

      I will add though, that men of all shades seem to get represented. The issue seems more prevalent with women (in part, I think, because white women are seen as the “the prize” and the closer you are to white, the more desirable you’re perceived to be).

      • African Sun says:

        @NastyWoman and @Lynnie, I think many people pretend colourism doesn’t exist because it is uncomfortable to face the truths of how horrendous it has hurt people of African origin. Not just in the US. Even in my African country, many people prefer lighter skin coloured women and they are treated better. It’s messed up. We need to do better.

      • Lynnie says:

        Haha, Nastywoman I have faith that people will scroll down and read everything. I hear ya on the conditioned part. I’m always amused (and slightly irked depending on the person) when someone is shocked that Lupita Nyongo could be that pretty/talented. Uh, yes, she can be, and so are a lot of other dark skinned women if they were just given the chance! It makes you wanna scream sometimes.

        @African Sun, Which country are you from?! (haha sorry, I always get excited when I meet fellow Africans on this site) I’m Nigerian/Cameroonian.

        “I think many people pretend colourism doesn’t exist because it is uncomfortable to face the truths of how horrendous it has hurt people of African origin.”

        This. And just racial issues in general. It needs to be talked about though, and hopefully throughout the years it’ll get the attention it deserves. I’m seeing some good things coming out from people my age addressing the topic so I have hope. 😊

        I read somewhere (and this is meant in no way, shape, or form to be an excuse) that, in humans, at least men are wired to seek out lighter (than themselves) female partners, and women do the opposite for men. So I wonder if colorism was born from this (apparently) natural phenomenon and just got bastardized into the version that it is today? Probably an oversimplification, but I thought it was interesting.

      • Original T.C. says:

        Thanks @Lynnie and @NastyWoman for bringing back the topic. I just posted a link higher in the thread to discuss the real socio-economic problems faced by Black Women due to colorism in our society. Affecting salaries, jail time, interviews, marriage rates etc.

        It’s sad when almost EVERY actress or female celebrity of African descent is Biracial and/or light skinned with the good hair. But people want to pretend it’s not a problem because to them in the eyes of White society we are all Black and thus treated equally. Right!

      • African Sun says:

        @Lynnie, I am from Tanzania. Yay more African people on this site :)

        That’s very interesting and I can see the truth in that in how some African brothers choose their spouses. I think with the continent colonialism played a massive role in how it shaped colourism.

        There needs to be more discussion about class and how that affects colourism for example. I think it was good of Zendaya to be aware of her privilege as a lighter skinned black woman.

      • Sixer says:

        Just wanted to acknowledge that I scrolled down and read everything. Keep the faith, Lynnie.

    • African Sun says:

      Beautifully written Lynnie.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      ” I can’t help but think that if there were more ethnic casting directors, writers, movie execs, set designers, etc then some of these problems wouldn’t be as prevalent”


  16. manta says:

    I’ve never seen her anyhwhere but here. She’s a cute young woman who’s always touted as “can make everything she wears looks great” and the future of feminism. Unless she’s an acting genius, the “icon in the making” headline is overkill.
    I’m sure I’ve read similar titles in Vanity fair, EW etc…about some starlets deemed to be the future of Tinseltown. Many of them would probably only elicit a “Who?” comment nowadays.

  17. Pandy says:

    I’ve never seen her acting but she is a fantastic dancer! Broadway in her future. I don’t really like the styling of this shoot. Her eyebrows are too heavy maybe? Anyway not my fave pix of her.

  18. Donna says:

    I put her in the same category as Kristen Stewart. Young, beautiful, talented, and insufferable due to their own sense of self-importance.

  19. marc kile says:

    Why can’t anyone for once do an interview and not complain about something so many men and women in hollywood do nothing but complain in all their interviews if your doing
    well and being paid well try being happy about it if not quit and clean toilets for a living like i do.
    It just seems no one in hollywood seems grateful for what they have black/white/anyone.

  20. Abby_J says:

    She is beautiful, but I think the cover picture is too old for her. I mean, SHE doesn’t look old, but I don’t know, she’s like 20, isn’t she? She seems to always get these dramatic photo shoots, that seem more appropriate for a late 20′s/30 year old. I do love the rainbow dress picture, though! In fairness, I am not a fashionista in any way, so maybe just don’t get it. :)

    Can’t wait for Spider-Man. I hope its as awesome as I’m expecting it to be!