Zendaya is addressing the age gap criticism surrounding her and John David Washington in their new movie, Malcolm & Marie.

Ahead of the romantic drama's upcoming premiere, fans have been expressing their concerns over the 12-year age difference between the actress and her 36-year-old co-star. That said, while Zendaya may have gotten her start as a child star, she's now reminding folks that she's 24 and very much a grown woman.

"People often forget — which is understandable because I've been playing 16 since I was 16, you know — [but] I am grown," Zendaya told People on Thursday. "I knew that, as I grow and as I evolve, there would be that moment where I could play someone my own age."

Granted, in another recent interview, the star also theorized that some of the backlash stemmed from her Disney past, explaining that, "You have to remember people also grew up with me as a child."

"It's like watching, I guess, your younger sibling — now they're grown, and you're not ready for it," she said on E! News's Daily Pop program. "It's hard for people to wrap [their heads] around the idea that I am grown in real life, even though I do play a teenager on television still."

As for Washington though, he previously responded to the issue in an interview with Variety, saying that he believed that people would "see in this film how much of a woman [Zendaya] is."

"She has far more experience than I do in the industry," he said. "I've only been in it for seven years. She's been in it longer, so I'm learning from her. I'm the rookie."

Not only that, but Washington also went on to add that he learned a lot from Zendaya while they were making the film, before praising "how mature she is in this role."

"Some of the stories she's shared about what she's had to go through with Twitter and everything. I appreciated her wisdom and discernment when it comes to this business. I admire that," he said, before later adding, "We're talking about versatility, and [director Sam Levinson] and Zendaya brought both."

Malcolm & Marie premieres February 5 on Netflix. In the meantime, you can watch the trailer, below.

Photo via Getty

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