Beauty

Zendaya Speaks Out Against Colourism: "I am Hollywood's Acceptable Version of a Black Girl"

“I’m using my platform to show you how much beauty there is in the African-American community"

Zendaya BeautyCon: Zendaya wearing a white long-sleeved shirt and large hoop earrings. Her hair is slicked back in a low ponytail and she's shown against a tan background.

For beauty influencers, YouTubers and makeup pros, #festivalseason doesn’t mean Coachella—it means Beautycon. On April 21 and 22, thousands of beauty enthusiasts gathered in New York City—including celeb guests like Laverne Cox, Paris Hilton, Lucy Hale, Fifth Harmony’s Ally Brooke Hernandez and your fave and ours, Zendaya. During her conversation with Bozoma Saint John, Uber’s chief brand officer, the star of The Greatest Showman served up some real talk about self-love, staying true to herself and navigating her career in Hollywood, before calling for better representation of Black women on screen.

“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. “I am Hollywood’s, I guess you could say, acceptable version of a Black girl and that needs to change. We’re vastly too beautiful and too interesting for me to be the only representation of that. What I’m saying, it’s about creating those opportunities. Sometimes you have to create those paths.”

When it comes to self-love, the 21-year-old star maintains that she’s still learning about what makes her feel her best. “Here’s the thing, I’m only 21 years old. I don’t have all the answers. I think it’s important to know that we’re all young and we’re still just trying to figure it out. I’m not going to sit here and preach and have all the answers for you. What I can say is that everything in life is a process.”

Speaking candidly on stage, Zendaya said she believes in affirmations and never, ever speaks negatively about herself. “Your number one fan should always be yourself,” she said.

This wasn’t the first time the outspoken star has used her time in the spotlight to affect change. At the 2017 Teen Choice Awards, she used her acceptance speech to rally young people to do their part to make a difference. “With all the injustice and the hatred and everything that is happening,” she told her fans, “I need you to listen. I need you to pay attention. I need you to understand that you have a voice and it’s OK to use it.”

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