Garcelle Beauvais is not just another pretty face. Her longevity in Hollywood can definitely be attributed to her God-given talent, but what cannot be ignored is a tenacity and willingness for both reinvention and transparency, especially as a Black woman in Hollywood.
The 55-year old model/actress isn’t afraid to make her opinions known. As the first Black woman to join the cast of the Bravo hit show, “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”, she had to school some of the other ladies on living her truth as a woman of color and as the co-host on the daytime talk show, “The Real,” Beauvais does just that— keeps it real.
She is no less forthcoming in her upcoming memoir “Love Me As I Am,” (Amistad) which debuts on Apr. 12, 2022. During a recent interview with BET.com, Beauvais spoke about some of the men in her life including her tumultuous relationship with her father, whom she says disappeared when she was around three or four years old only to return when she turned 14 and what ultimately led to the dissolution of both of her marriages.
RELATED: 5 Best Books of 2021
And while those aspects may seem heavy, what is clear is that Beauvais is not just a fighter; she is also a woman who loves deeply. It shines through most clearly when she writes about her mother, maternal grandmother, and sons. Her oldest Oliver Saunders and twin boys 14-year old Jaid and Jax Nilon, who she says with intention that she is raising to be the kind of men she wished she’d married. Most revealing about her story, however, is that Beauvais, who doesn’t shy away from telling others the truth, is also brutally honest with herself.
BET.com: You have mentioned in the past that people will ask you about material things, but they don’t ask you what it's like being a Black woman in Hollywood. So, BET.com wants to know, what's it like after over three decades in this business?
Garcelle Beauvais: Well, let me say this. In the beginning, I know there were so many parts that I thought I was right for and could have done an amazing job and wasn't given the opportunity because they'd say, 'Oh, I don't want to go urban, or this is not a Black story.' So being a Black woman in Hollywood makes you tough. It makes you resilient because so many times, you hear about parts that we're not even privy to. Being a Black woman in Hollywood makes you brave and strong because you have to deal with so many things. I feel like we've gotten to a point where we're now being validated, and we're now being seen for what we bring and that we can bring an audience. We can greenlight a show. I've seen the change, and I applaud it every single day.
BET.com: Have you noticed a change in how you may be treated or the number of available roles for you in the last couple of years?
Garcelle Beauvais: Oh, for sure and also getting offers as opposed to you know, so many times I would go to auditions, and all these amazing Black actresses are in the lobby waiting, and I'm like any one of us could have been offered this role. Like we didn't even have to come in [and audition] because everybody here is worthy and [has put in] years of work. So many times, I felt like we had to jump through so many hoops when we didn't have to.
BET.com: So, I loved your book, “Love Me As I Am”. It was funny, honest, and touched on many personal topics. One was your father's absence from your life. How do you think that impacted you then and now?
Garcelle Beauvais: I was hurt because I didn't feel seen or loved by him. And now as a grown-up, I can say, maybe he didn't have the tools. You know, West Indian men, they provide, but the women [are the ones who] raise you. And now I can say I have forgiven him. I wish I had a conversation with him, but then I was just hurt, and I was closed off, and if I'm taking responsibility for myself, when he came back into my life, I wasn't open to receiving him. I think it's because I was protecting myself from the hurt and pain.
When I think of little girls with their dads, they're their first heroes—the first love of their life. And I never felt that. When I was a teenager, my girlfriends and I would go to the drugstore, and they'd get a card for Father's Day, and I never felt like I needed to grab a card. I just didn't feel a connection. I feel like to this day, there might be some daddy issues even though I've forgiven him, but I wonder if that shaped me into choosing the men I’ve chosen.
BET.com: In the book, you describe your grandmother and mother with such sweetness, warmth, and sensitivity. Do you believe the way they loved the men in their lives shaped your perception of how you view love?
Garcelle Beauvais: Absolutely. Also, I wish I had gotten the men's side of it too. I only got my mom and my grandmother's side of it, and there are two sides to every story. We were seen and not heard as kids. And I wish I had been able to ask questions like, 'what happened?' Or 'what makes you happy, mom?' She seemed happy on the outside. For most of my life, I remember her listening to music and laughing but I know there were moments and even silent moments that I caught as a kid but I don't think I registered it until I was old enough to look back.
BET.com: Your father, who is now deceased, returned to your life when you were 14. Did you two ever talk about why he left ? Was there ever a conversation with your mom?
Garcelle Beauvais: No, not at all. It wasn't addressed. I felt like she went to a party and came back with a party favor, and there weren't any explanations. Things are different nowadays. If I am moving, I ask my kids to look at homes with me and which rooms they want, but I didn't grow up like that. Your parents made the decisions, and you went along with it.
BET.com: You speak openly about your second divorce and about your ex-husband’s [Michael Nilon] infidelity. Did you have any inkling before the events that led to you finding out?
Garcelle Beauvais: Not one thing made me question anything at all, and that's why it felt like the rug was pulled out from under me. I thought I won the lotto with my husband. My friends would go, you know, ask him for relationship advice. My family loved him, and my mom loved him, which was a huge sign for me.
BET.com: When you think about what you went through with your oldest son, Oliver as he struggled with addiction, how were you able to carry on?
Garcelle Beauvais: I learned to compartmentalize. I had to continue to work and support the family, and at the same time, I was in quiet pain, a quiet hell, because I was scared to death a lot of the time.
BET.com: You also talk about your struggles with infertility and having fibroids. Why did you decide to disclose that?
Garcelle Beauvais: I wanted to have a child or children with my then-husband [Michael Nilon], and I had already had a kid, so it seemed like it would be a no-brainer. But we were trying and trying, and I kept on having miscarriages. We decided to go to an infertility doctor, and he saw that I had fibroids. In removing them, my bowel became obstructed.
I was on a set working, and I was bent over in pain. They let me go home. A day went by, the pain went away, and I was fine. The next day, I was in pain again and went to the emergency room. They didn't find anything, but a doctor ordered an MRI. Afterwards, I went home but then had to go right back to the hospital because they called to say I had a bowel obstruction that could have killed me and they needed to operate.
Then for IVF, I had to give myself shots every day and go to the infertility doctor every other day to check my different levels. [We tried] for five years on and off. We got pregnant and were so excited, then seven weeks later, the pregnancy went away. I cried, and I prayed to God. We decided to try one more time, and I got pregnant with my twin boys.
BET.com: Are there any misconceptions about you that you think this book will help clear up?
Garcelle Beauvais: Sometimes people think everything is perfect [for me], and I just want to inspire women. I hope the book can bring comfort to women who have gone through a divorce at a later stage in life. I'm trying to raise the type of men I wish I married; compassionate, kind, and respectful. The book is my journey. You can laugh with me. You can cry with me; you can probably even connect. The book shares a little piece of me, and hopefully, it inspires others.
Editor's note: This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.