Zendaya Had a Powerful Reason for Parting Ways Her Publicist

June 3rd 2016

Laura Donovan

Singer and actress Zendaya has dealt with racially insensitive comments in the public eye and has faced similar issues in private as well.


A photo posted by Zendaya (@zendaya) on

The 19-year-old told Cosmopolitan for its July 2016 issue that she experienced frustration over a previous cover story, and that her publicist essentially told her to be grateful for the opportunity as a woman of color.

"I didn't like my hair and makeup one time on a photo shoot, and my publicist told me, 'You should just be happy with it — they haven't had a black girl on the cover since forever.' She's no longer my publicist," Zendaya said.

Zendaya's Cosmopolitan interview comes a few months after Jumah Eid, creator of the popular Twitter stream @SuperHeroFeed, tweeted that he believed Zendaya and Willow Smith were Photoshopped to appear more white on the April cover of W magazine. Eid claimed that he used Photoshop on the magazine cover image to show a more realistic depiction of the women's natural skin tone.

"I know for a fact that magazines like to take the little representation minorities have in the mainstream media and wash it," Eid told BuzzFeed News at the time. "Sometimes you need to put pictures side by side to really notice it. It only really takes, like, three minutes for me. Three minutes can show exactly what people are doing to these pictures.”

People have accused magazines of altering skin tones for women of color before.

In 2009, Harper's Bazaar was accused of whitewashing actress Halle Berry on its May cover. At the time, the magazine did not offer a comment on whether the cover was Photoshopped.

Halle Berry Harper's Bazaar

Many are calling for magazines to publish covers highlighting people of color.

In March 2015, writer Marjon Carlos wrote in a Fusion story that six women of color made the cover of magazines that month. Carlos pointed out that while that might look like positive change, less than 15 percent of big fashion magazine covers included women of color in 2014.

"[T]he reason we’re so excited about these magazine covers is because they are rare," Carlos wrote. "A woman of color on the cover of a major mainstream fashion magazine makes waves, since we see WOC so infrequently."

In August, trans writer Janet Mock tweeted that she was stunned to see multiple Black women on September magazine covers:

Last fall, The Hollywood Reporter famously decided to include only white women on the cover of its annual actress roundtable issue in an attempt to make a statement about the lack of diversity in awards season and the film industry as a whole. Several of the women on the cover were nominated for Academy Awards that very Oscar season:

While the publication claimed that it was condemning racism in entertainment, many felt that this cover only perpetuated the problem:

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