Giuliana Rancic of E!’s Fashion Police has faced serious backlash ever since the comments she made during the show’s post-Oscars recap, about singer Zendaya’s dreadlocked hair. Rancic said it probably smelled of “patchouli oil and weed,” and soon after Zendaya accused Rancic’s words of being “racial slurs.”
“I read her statement and I was shocked,” Rancic said when she spoke out about the incident for the first time in an interview with People. “I made [the joke] as a reference to the hippie culture. It was a bohemian-chic reference, not about race, nor would it ever be. It was horrifying to have my name in a headline with words I have never been associated with in my life.” Soon after, Rancic issued an on-air apology to Zendaya.
Rancic explained that she did not write the joke and that the show was edited and her words taken out of context. “On set, I made peace signs and I said boho twice…If I thought this joke could be interpreted another way, I never would have done it. I felt horrible.” Rancic also said that at the time of taping no one voiced their concerns about the comment.
“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 heard it in context.” And once Zendaya’s statement went viral, Rancic began getting death threats. “People were sending me pictures of the barrel of a gun saying, ‘I’m going to kill your family.’ It was awful,” Rancic said.
Not long after the incident, co-hosts Kelly Osbourne and Kathy Griffin later announced they were leaving Fashion Police. But Rancic said that ever since co-host Joan Rivers died in September, “it was only a matter of time before that specific show with that cast and that format fell apart.”