Zendaya has admitted the criticism of her movie Malcolm & Marie "stripped away" her voice because many people failed to realise how involved she was behind-the-scenes on the project.

The drama, which depicts a filmmaker and his girlfriend, played by John David Washington and Zendaya, arguing after they return home from the premiere of his new movie, was released on Netflix earlier this month, and it received mixed reviews, with those in the negative camp criticising director Sam Levinson for the way he wrote two Black characters and for seemingly using Washington's director character to voice his own agenda against film critics.

In a new interview with The New York Times, Zendaya admitted those people failed to realise that she wasn't just hired as an actor; she was involved in the project from its conception, and helped her Euphoria director and close friend Levinson craft the script.

"What's interesting is I think a little bit of our agency was stripped away," Zendaya said. "Like this was just kind of Sam spewing things through us without realising that we are not only actors in this, but we're co-financiers and producers with P.G.A. (Producers Guild of America) marks. You can't get those unless you actually do the job.

"We do have the credit, this is ours, and John David, I, and Sam equally own this film. It's not like it belongs to someone else and I just got cast in it. He wrote it for us too, and I think if you're going to write something, you have to acknowledge experiences of the (Black) character you're writing. I thought a lot of conversations I had with Sam came through."

Levinson, who is credited as the sole writer of the film, previously addressed the criticism, telling Esquire U.K. that he wasn't worried about writing the movie as a white man because he had "faith in the collaborative process" and his actors telling him if a line didn't feel right.