As trolls continue to camp out in her Twitter mentions about her lead role in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, Zendaya is busy inking movie deals, fashioning an inclusive, unisex clothing line and launching a new lifestyle app.
But during a recent sit-down with The Hollywood Reporter, the multi-hyphenate entertainer, who will anchor the Spider-Man reboot opposite Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, did take five to briefly comment on the controversy.
First, she addressed rumors that she would be playing Mary Jane, confirming that her character is not a romantic partner. "People are going to react over anything, but nothing (about who I am playing) is fact," the former Shake It Up! star said. "Whenever we were on set, one of us gets some random character name (on the call sheet). (Bloggers were) like, ‘Oh they must be so and so.’ And we just crack up about it, because it's like, 'Whatever you want to think. You'll find out.' It's funny to watch the guessing game."
But as for the racist vitriol that has followed Zendaya’s casting? That’s been harder to take. "For some reason some people just aren't ready," the actress said. "I'm like, 'I don't know what America you live in, but from what I see when I walk outside my streets of New York right now, I see lots of diversity and I see the real world and it's beautiful, and that's what should be reflected and that's what is reflected so you're just going to have to get over it.'"
For her part, Zendaya is using her platform, both online and offline, to champion that message of inclusion and equality — whether it's through affirming the power of representation or highlighting systemic violence against people of color.
She's also particularly passionate about carving out a safe space online via her namesake app. "I want (users) to be able to contact each other and talk to each other, but I want it all positive," she told USA TODAY on Thursday. "It's not like Twitter or Instagram, which I love, but can get a little negative sometimes."
"Social media can be dangerous," she continued. "What's cool about my app is that it gives people an inside look at my life, but I get to control it... which makes it a little safer, at least for me."