Giuliana Rancic is speaking out for the first time since making a joke in poor taste regarding Zendaya Coleman’s dreadlocks at the 87th annual Academy Awards. During E!'s red carpet coverage, Rancic quipped that the 18-year-old looked like she smelled of “patchouli oil and weed,” sparking almost immediate social media outrage from viewers who felt the comment was racist. Even Coleman got in on the action, issuing a statement in which she called Rancic’s comments “ignorant slurs.” The 40-year-old later apologized, but the hate continued to pour in.
Twitter users were quick to mock Rancic’s extremely thin appearance and called for E! to fire her from “Fashion Police.” The cancer survivor recently revealed that she struggles with self-esteem issues stemming from her weight, which she has little control over. In an interview with People, published on April 1, Rancic revealed that cancer-suppression drugs she’s prescribed do not allow her to gain weight, regardless of how much she eats. Although reading comments about her size hurt, she says it got much worse. The mother-of-one revealed to People that outraged viewers threatened the lives of her family members. She also received several photos of weapons.
“I started very quickly getting death threats,” she said. “People were sending me pictures of the barrel of a gun saying, ‘I’m going to kill your family.’ It was awful.”
It wasn’t just the threatening messages and mocking of her insecurities that bothered her. According to Rancic, Coleman’s statement was especially hurtful. She claims she was “shocked” when reading it, adding that it was “horrifying to have my name in a headline with words I have never been associated with in my life.”
Rancic blames the entire situation on poor editing. She claims she “made peace signs” with her hands and “said boho twice” while making the joke, but E! cut that out. She says the editing changed the entire context of the joke and assured fans that she would not have said it if she thought for one second it could be construed as racially insensitive.
“There were about 50 sets of eyeballs on set that day,” she said. “And not one person thought that it had the undertones that it ended up having once it aired because they had heard it in context.”
Although she claims her comments were in no ways slurs, Rancic says this entire debacle has taught her a valuable lesson. She told the magazine she was "regretful" and issued a heartfelt apology to everyone she hurt by making the joke. Rancic says this "was a very unfortunate incident," and hopes to move forward.
"I'm so regretful that people interpreted the joke [as they did]. I hurt people and I feel terrible about that. And I learned a really important lesson that if people are offended, it doesn't matter the intent," she assured readers.
As for former “Fashion Police” co-hosts Kelly Osbourne and Kathy Griffin, both of whom quit the show following the incident, Rancic tells People it was bound to happen eventually. She claimed the show was “difficult from episode one” following the tragic and sudden death of Joan Rivers.
“There were just all sorts of problems. I really believe it was only a matter of time before that specific show with that cast and that format fell apart,” she said.
“Fashion Police” is currently on hiatus. It has not yet been announced if or when it will return to the network.