Zendaya might only be 20-years-old, but she’s already made a powerful mark as a vocal leader for women worldwide. And on Monday night, the actress was honored at the 2016 Glamour Women of the Year Awards for her unstoppable voice and powerful activism.
Advocating for social justice issues is nothing new to the star; the quality was instilled in her from a young age. “The thing is I’ve never been one to be shy about speaking up. I don’t know, I think that’s something I learned especially from my dad,” the actress said. She shared that when she was in fifth grade, she was admonished by her parents for not defending a fellow classmate that was being bullied and believes this influence helped her to gain the ability to not sit back through injustice.
For example, when Giuliana Rancic famously criticized Coleman’s look at the 2015 Oscars, saying the Disney star must have smelled of “patchouli” and “weed,” Zendaya hit back with a powerful retort in defense of her hairstyle choice on Instagram. “I think a lot of people underestimate the power of social media, and I choose to use that for good and to open people’s perspective and start conversations I think at some point people were awkward about having.”
In her moving acceptance speech at the event, the actress bravely used her platform to yet again issue a call to action. “Now is such a pivotal time in our history. It’s such a pivotal, crazy time, and I want you to know — all you ladies up there — you are the leaders,” she said.
“We are the future. We need you. We need every single one of you in this room. You are needed to step up to the plate, right here right now, and let your voice be heard. This is the time. So please continue to do so.”