I actually wrote this fortnights blog back in June but didn't post it as the time didn't feel quite right. However this past couple of months I've been having some what of an identity crisis and this popped back up on my radar.
With the increase of reports debating cultural appropriation and a rise in race related mistreatment, I've been feeling like I'm meant to pick a side. In 26 years I have never felt that way and even recently sat up editing the shade of my skin in my headshots wondering if that's the reason why my audition schedule has been quiet...because I'm not quite white or black enough. It's been a sucky feeling to have.
Then I found this in my blog book. And everything refocused.
I've touched on this subject briefly in a couple of previous posts (for those of you who regularly tune in) but now feel comfortable to actually poke the hornets nest. Guys, I've got to break it to you - I'm mixed race.
Lets get the FAQ's out of the way:
1) My dad is Caribbean decent, from Barbados to be specific. No I have never been.
2) Both my parents are British - so to that boy who shouted at me at Bexhill carnival when I was 11, I can't go back to my own country, I'm already in it!
3) Due to my mum having blue eyes I too have blue eyes - genetics, go figure.
4) Yes my hair is all mine, always has been always will be. I don't have the time, patience or bank balance for a top notch weave. I'm not Beyoncé.
5)Yes I tan and yes I can get sunburnt - we all need that factor 50 sometimes
6) My brothers and I all have the same parents. I haven't a clue why we're different shades. Once again, its those pesky genetics.
7) I am proud to be mixed race.
Mixed race, Bi-racial, dual heritage - whatever you want to call it, I'm it. Having two good looking parents, one black Caribbean, one Caucasian equalled this mish mash of a human being. I get the same questions, often, but I have come to sort of like it - I'd rather people ask and know instead of judge and assume. Especially those who haven't come from integrated communities, meeting me can sometimes be a shock. Mainly because I don't know all of Jay Z's albums, have never smoked weed (not even a cigarette), have a (slightly skewed) Sussex accent or witnessed a drive by (genuinely was asked that once!). I'd rather chat about who I am and where I'm from when asked than have stereotypes laid upon me.
Growing up mixed was tricky. My brothers all looked like chart topping musicians (my big brother blagged being Kanye West in an Ibiza nightclub) and/or athletes and I did not look like Rihanna! However, especially being a singer people assumed I should sound a certain a way but I didn't. I'm more Audra McDonald than Jennifer Hudson. I spent my life trying to conform to a stereotype and I just wasn't very good at it. That being said...the industry I am in my looks play a significant factor. I have been turned down for roles purely because I am not the right shade. However I have learnt no longer to dwell on those moments but to focus on the moments when my tanned hue was just right.
Then came the day I thought - oh bugger it, I'm just gonna be a good person. I'm not gonna try and be like Whitney or Queen Latifah, Jordan Sparks or Leona Lewis, I'm just gonna be me. Be my own bonkers, unexpected, fun loving person. If I go to a casting and I'm just right: FANTASTIC, if not oh well and well done to the person who did - this one was for them, the next will be for me. Yes there are casting brackets and breakdowns that could want something open and vague or someone precise and specific but the wonderful thing is, each person in those brackets brings something different to the table regardless of their skin colour. I bring lots of random skills besides my looks and I'm going to have fun building my career and showing my unique qualities and seeing what the future holds.
I could spend my days worrying about the guy on the street who shouted out 'Hey team lightskin, you looking good today'. Team lightskin!? When did I become part of a team? Am I representing my team right? Am I the right kind of light skinned, light eyed girl that guys want?
Or I should I represent team me. The tall, curly haired, happiness spewing, clumsy, dedicated, hardworking, passionate, nerdy goon that I am.
As it is I'm near enough a giant. My heritage is just a tiny piece of this 5'10 frame. My soul is who I truly am.