Giuliana Rancic has apologized for implying Zendaya Coleman smokes pot because she has dreadlocks, and insisted her joke was not a racist dig aimed at Zendaya’s hair.
Rancic made the provocative comment on “Fashion Police,” where she and a panel of dubious fashion “experts” critiqued celebrity outfits from the 2015 Academy Awards.
While dishing about Oscar red carpet fashions, Giuliana joked that Zendaya probably “smells like patchouli oil or weed.” Zendaya was deeply offended, and suggested Rancic was making a racist implication that she must smoke marijuana because she has dreadlocks.
Zendaya expressed her outrage on Twitter Feb. 24, writing: “There is a fine line between what is funny and disrespectful. Someone said something about my hair at the Oscars that left me in awe. To say that an 18-year-old woman with locs must smell of patchouli oil or ‘weed’ is not only a large stereotype but outrageously offensive.”
Coleman continued: “There is already harsh criticism of African-American hair in society without the help of ignorant people who choose to judge others base on the curl of their hair. My wearing my hair in locs on an Oscar red carpet was to showcase them in a positive light.”
In response, Giuliana offered a profuse apology on Twitter, saying her comments were not meant to be racist or disparaging of dreadlocks. “Dear @Zendaya, I’m sorry I offended you and others,” Rancic wrote. “I was referring to a bohemian chic look. Had NOTHING to do with race and NEVER would!!!”
Giuliana also apologized on-air during the Feb. 24 E! News telecast:
“I’d really like to address something that’s weighing very heavy on my heart. I want to apologize for a comment that I made on last night’s Fashion Police about Zendaya’s hair.
“Something I said last night did cross the line. I didn’t intend to hurt anybody, but I’ve learned it’s not my intent that matters, it’s the result.
“This really has been a learning experience for me, I’ve learned a lot. And this incident has taught me to be a lot more aware of cliches and stereotypes, how much damage they can do. And that I am responsible, as we all are, to not perpetuate them further.”
Zendaya: Giuliana Is Closet Racist
Zendaya has since accepted Giuliana’s apology, saying many people have “hidden prejudice” that get unintentionally reflected in our actions. Zendaya tweeted:
“Studies have shown that even though we try to act without prejudice, sometimes it’s just hidden inside us due to our past or surroundings. That hidden prejudice is often influential in our actions. It’s our job to spot these issues within others and ourselves and destroy them before they become hurtful. I have so many people looking up to me, that I couldn’t be scared, wait it out, nor could I just stand up for me; I had to do it for WE.”
“Giuliana, I appreciate your apology and I’m glad it was a learning experience for you and for the network. I hope that others negatively affected by her words can also find it in their hearts to accept her apology as well.
From a quote we all know by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.’ Let’s be that light and spread that love.”
Kelly Osbourne Quits Show
The drug implications were particularly offensive because Zendaya had insisted in a 2014 interview that she does not drink alcohol or do any drugs.
“On heck no! I ain’t gonna do that to my liver,” Coleman replied when asked whether she drinks or does drugs. “I’m not trying to die [on drugs].”
Never one to miss a good PR opportunity, Rancic’s “Fashion Police” co-star, Kelly Osbourne, expressed her feigned outrage over Twitter, and even threatened to quit the show if the situation didn’t get resolved soon.
Osbourne was furious after viewers questioned whether she had initially made the comment that Zendaya smells like pot. “I did not make the weed comment,” Kelly tweeted Feb. 24. “I do not condone racism, so as a result of this I’m seriously questioning staying on the show!”
Kelly added: “You guys do realize that @Zendaya is my friend, right? I’m giving everyone involved 24 hours to make it right or the world will hear how I really feel. Contractually I’m not allowed to speak! The situation is being rectified like ADULTS by both parties. I hope you can leave it to them & do the same!”
On Feb.27, TMZ reported that Osbourne, who had been feuding with producers before the Zendaya incident, quit “Fashion Police.”
Giuliana has plenty of experience dealing with snarky assumptions after being accused of having anorexia and being scary-skinny. Rancic made headlines after Twitter users remarked on her skeletal body at the Golden Globe Awards and the Grammys.
Rancic, 40, has always been thin but lost a noticeable amount of weight in 2007 and has since maintained that weight loss. Ironically, she has progressively gotten thinner with age. Giuliana has repeatedly denied she’s anorexic, attributing her stick-thin figure to a fast metabolism — not starvation diets.
“I eat a lot and I take walks and I have a faster metabolism,” said Rancic. “I always thought it would catch up to me and it hasn’t quite yet. I’m not trying to be cocky. I’m just trying to be honest.”
Giuliana and her husband, reality TV star Bill Rancic, welcomed a baby boy, Duke, in August 2012 via a surrogate. The Rancics hope to have another child via surrogate in the near future. Critics speculate Giuliana wants to use a surrogate because she’s trying to avoid baby weight gain.