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Zendaya on Supermarket Controversy: You Have to Stand Up for What’s Important (Exclusive)

No regrets. Zendaya spoke exclusively with Us Weekly about her recent supermarket Snapchat, in which she claimed a Vons employee was unhelpful because of her skin tone. According to the Disney star, 20, she is proud to have shared her story via social media.

“I feel like you’re supposed to speak up on issues that you think are important,” she told Us at the Michael Kors Access Smartwatch launch party in New York City on Sunday, September 11. “Honestly, that’s what social media is for, you know, to share stories and have conversations and open dialogue about it.”

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Asked how she deals with the criticism she might receive for speaking her mind online, the “Something New” singer said she expects to hear from her haters — and, surprisingly, welcomes their negative opinions.

“Well, that’s gonna happen regardless. In many ways, if you don’t have haters, you’re not doing your job,” she explained to Us. “You gotta have people to hate on you. That’s the best part!”

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As previously reported, the K.C. Undercover actress claimed to have been discriminated against after attempting to purchase gift cards at Vons on Tuesday, September 6.

Zendaya attends the Michael Kors Access Smartwatch launch party at Michael Kors Soho on September 11, 2016, in New York City.
Zendaya attends the Michael Kors Access Smartwatch launch party at Michael Kors Soho on September 11, 2016, in New York City.

“So we just got out of this Vons,” she said on Snapchat. “Now I am trying to buy a lot of gift cards. Now there’s some certain specific things you have to do when it comes to buying gift cards. There’s some certain limits and some things, which is understandable. OK, cool, so I’ll take a less amount, whatever. But the lady that was helping us, I don’t think she was a huge fan of our skin tone.”

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Zendaya then went on to explain why she feels the grocery store clerk could possibly be racist. “In fact, I recall her not trying to help us at all, saying that we couldn’t buy the gift cards, and then throwing my wallet,” she alleged. “I can’t make this s–t up! This is what we deal with! She literally threw my wallet and she was like, ‘You can’t afford this,’ is how she looked at me. It was $400! Long story short. There is so much progress to be done in our world.”

In a subsequent snap, the CoverGirl model cleared up her comments about the cashier’s behavior: “It wasn’t like a throw, it was like a toss. She, like, tossed it with my cards still loose … my card fell on the scanner and she was about to keep scanning the next person. I was like, ‘That’s my card, like, what are you doing?’ You know what, it’s all love! May she go on to have a wonderful life.”

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Luckily, Z ended up being able to buy the gift cards thanks to the intervention of a grocery store manager. “Yo shout out the manager for coming and helping,” she told her followers. “I got my gift cards!”

In response to the former child star’s claims, Vons spokesman Carlos Illingworth issued a statement to Us on Wednesday, September 7.

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“At Vons we strive to treat each and every customer with the utmost respect. There is a policy that limits gift card purchases using a credit card. Zendaya was able to purchase gift cards up to our limit, and we apologize for any inconvenience or misunderstanding,” the statement read. “We respect Zendaya’s voice in the community and similarly are committed to diversity and inclusion. Moreover, we understand that race is a sensitive issue in America and view this experience as a reminder that every interaction is an opportunity to treat each customer as we ourselves would like to be treated.”

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