Kendrick Lamar can turn the world m.A.A.d with a singular drop. He demonstrated this last week with the release of "Humble," the first single off his forthcoming album, DAMN. Aside from the buzz brought about by the song and visuals alone, a star was born in model Carter Kim, who appears alongside Lamar in the video. Kim portrays the fantasy girl for the ideal K. Dot wishes to see: "I'm so f**kin' sick and tired of the Photoshop / Show me somethin' natural like Afro on Richard Pryor / Show me somethin' natural like ass with some stretch marks," he raps. Kim then walks into a split screen, where one side of her is made up and the other is rocking an Alicia Keys natural vibe. Many had a problem with the idea that Lamar was showing two different women, one light-skinned with a curly wave to her hair and the other, dark with a kinky curl. The gag is...it's the same girl.
The video stirred up plenty of dialogue in the wake of its release. While some are partial to the vision Kendrick describes, like Tyrese, specifically opponents have had their fair share of criticism for the way in which he's speaking about women. We talked to the woman in the eye of the storm about her experience working with Kendrick, how she feels about the backlash and how her life's changed since the video dropped.
Tell me a little about yourself.
I'm 21, I’m originally from West Hollywood. I grew up as a child actor. I’ve made different appearances in different feature films like Sideways and Heartbreak Kid with Ben Stiller. I did a lot of commercials and things like that as a kid. I now obviously model and act. I’m more of an actress. I’m a stylist, that’s my actual job; I style at Coach. That’s pretty much my life. I’ve just been acting and styling for quite some time now.
How did you land the role?
One of my really good friends, he is a casting director and he directs a lot of different music videos. But he knows me very well. I’m not the video vixen type, so I kept declining offers. But he was finally like, “OK, there’s this role and you absolutely cannot turn this down, like it’s you in a nutshell." So I pretty much just trusted him on a whim, and I got there and I pretty much figured out what my role was and I was elated. I was extremely happy because he was right, it pretty much did fit with everything I stand for, like being natural and being African-American and multicultural; it was great. It wasn’t just the typical girl like standing in front of a car dancing — which I have no problem with. Like, a lot of my other friends do those videos but it just wasn’t something that I was looking to do. But that was how I landed that job.
What was the experience like working on set and with Kendrick?
The experience of the video was awesome, like meeting Kendrick and the whole set in general was amazing. David Meyers was extremely sweet, and is he a legend, and I’m so honored to work with both of them. They worked extremely quickly, they knew exactly what they were doing. Kendrick knew exactly what he wanted, so it ran smoothly. It was an awesome experience being on set with them and being able to pick their brains. Kendrick’s very...humble...I don’t know how to say that without seeming corny, but he is very humble, he’s very modest. He made sure he took care of people on set and that was something I thought was extremely cool because [with] a lot of artists, obviously that’s others people’s job to worry about how other people are doing on set. So I appreciated that for sure. That was pretty much my experience on set. It was awesome.
Do you feel like your life’s changed since the video?
My life has changed because I guess it’s a little more attention than I’m used to. People will come up and talk to me about it or pick my brain about Kendrick or congratulate me, and these are all random people. So I have gained quite a bit of attention on social media. A lot of people have sent me hate mail but also nice things. My life has changed all around, definitely with my audience, which is awesome. For a while I was so stuck in being a child actress and being seen as a little girl, so it’s nice to be seen as a grown woman and be seen in something more recent.
There's been some polarizing criticism. What do you think of it?
I feel like a lot of people are blaming Kendrick and pretty much are throwing the heat on Kendrick for this whole situation being not feminist. But it’s almost like people aren’t understanding the real picture, and the real picture is not just him but guys appreciate a natural girl. Whether you decide to wear makeup or you don’t, it’s just to make girls feel more comfortable. You know what, guys do like girls with no makeup. You don’t have to dress up every day to impress somebody or get the guy that you want or things like that. They’re not always looking for the girl that’s the most done up or the extra pretty girl, they’re mostly looking for somebody that’s genuine and humble and modest and has a good personality. I think that’s the whole picture that people are missing; the whole purpose of the video. It’s for all women, not just Black women, not just light skin women. I also feel like people are kinda missing that. I feel like women are very particular today in how they want to be portrayed and every time that’s trying to be achieved, it’s not good enough or something’s wrong with it. So that’s kinda how I feel on the whole negative end of the feminist situation, I guess. I’m definitely for women’s empowerment, for sure. I just feel like to criticize another woman or to criticize a man who’s just trying to portray a natural woman and being a feminist, I think that’s a little bit backwards. But that’s just my personal opinion, I guess, on the situation.
Right. Like I see the basis for the argument. I, too, as a woman don't want to be told to be any certain way. But at the same time, we're inundated with images of celebrities and they’re not natural and they have work done (digitally or physically) and act like they haven’t, and I don’t think that’s necessarily a good message either.
Exactly. And not that I shame those people, because it’s like that’s what they want to do and that’s fine. I’m not against that. I feel like whatever makes people feel confident, they should do that. Maybe a woman buys herself flowers every day because it makes her feel nice. Maybe the woman that wears a bunch of makeup, it makes her feel nice; it’s not necessarily for guys, it’s for her to feel confident. But the music video’s also telling you, like you don’t have to do that. You can also be confident with no makeup, no weave, none of that. Its almost just like loving her both ways, that’s how I see it. I could see how the argument could potentially make sense, but at the end of the day, the big picture, it’s just to appreciate women. It’s nothing more, nothing less.
(Photo: Aftermath/Interscope/Top Dawg Entertainment)
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