Article by Emma Christiantelli | esPResso Staff Writer
Former Disney star and rising entertainer Zendaya Coleman is only 18 years old, but this past week she handled Giuliana Rancic’s controversial comments toward her Oscar night hairstyle like an expert in crisis management.
On the post-Oscars episode of “Fashion Police,” E! co-host Giuliana Rancic commented on Zendaya’s dreadlocks, saying that she must “smell like patchouli oil . . . or weed.” After widespread backlash against Rancic for her insensitive comment, the E! co-host first issued an apology to the young starlet via Twitter. Zendaya immediately cleared the air by posting a powerful response to her Instagram account. “There is a fine line between what is funny and what is disrespectful,” she stated. “There is already harsh criticism of African-American hair in society without the help of ignorant people who choose to judge others based on the curl of her hair.”
Just two days later, Rancic issued a second formal apology to Zendaya during the “Fashion Police” broadcast. Rancic stated that the incident was a “learning experience” and that the reaction to her comments has increased her overall awareness of clichés and stereotypes. “I am responsible, as we all are, to not perpetuate them further.”
In turn, Zendaya posted a follow-up response to her Instagram, thanking Rancic for the honest apology and offering a lesson in prejudice, quoting 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.”
The entertainer has demonstrated the power of immediate response to a crisis in public relations. After learning of the comments, Zendaya did not hesitate to address the incident directly. She remained professional in crafting her response but firmly stood her ground. Zendaya accepted her apology and even took the opportunity to offer a lesson in compassion and respect for others.
Stephanie Graham, a senior at Marist College, believes that Zendaya also could offer a valuable lesson in response strategies and crisis management. “Talk about grace under fire. Zendaya Coleman handled the Giuliana controversy maturely by accepting the E! star’s apology with an eloquent response on Instagram,” Graham said.
Overall, Zendaya has exhibited excellent crisis management skills by addressing the incident immediately, conducting herself professionally and even using the incident as an opportunity to highlight the meaning of acceptance in our society.