This story is part of, our podcast featuring interviews with actors, artists, celebrities and creative types about their work, career and current obsessions.
Garcelle Beauvais has come a long way since her family, led by her mother, moved from Haiti to Boston when she was a child. Beauvais says she learned how to speak English from watching Sesame Street. She also relied on an immigrant mindset -- "I want every opportunity. I want to do everything because I'm so grateful to be in America" -- to pursue challenging careers in modeling and acting, where you get more nos than yeses.
Three decades later, Beauvais is a successful actor and author, with a lengthy list of movie and TV roles to her credit, including White House Down, Coming 2 America, Models Inc., The Jamie Foxx Show and NYPD Blue. In 2020, she joined Season 10 of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" as the first Black cast member in the Los Angeles-based spinoff of the popular reality series. Season 12 premieres May 11 on Bravo. Beauvais also has a new memoir, Love Me as I Am, which was released this week by Harper Collins.
"It's really about perseverance," Beauvais says in an interview for CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast series in March during Women's History Month. It's also about letting go of fears, she adds, noting that she was afraid of going into casting interviews until someone shared words of wisdom with her.
"The best advice I ever got was enjoy the journey. It's not so much about where you land, it's not about the job… The outcome is not the only prize. It's the fact that you went through it and you were able to do it. Once I did that, I felt like I booked more jobs. I felt like I let go of that fear. And I was able to be a lot more present in the things that I was doing."
She also credits her success to having the support of powerful allies, including her mother and her friends.
"My mom is my hero because she had the wherewithal to bring us to the States. And then just seeing how strong and resilient she was, and for giving me the wings to fly," Beauvais says. "She literally let me move to New York when I was 17 years old to start my modeling career… My mom, my sisters, my friends -- I have a group of front-row women in my life that support me in so many ways, whether it's just cheering me on or picking me up. Those relationships are important."
Relationships are also at the heart of The Real Housewives franchise, and while Beauvais admits there can be lots of drama, she says it's the hardest project she's ever worked on because in reality TV, you can't hide behind a character. I ask her what viewers watching the show 100 years from now will think about women of this time?
"These are all women of a certain age, and we're doing this, we're creating businesses, we're living our lives. I feel like we don't get enough credit for that. I mean, these are women that are all brave enough to put their lives for everyone to see and dissect. We're in a fishbowl," she says. "When I started in this business, you always heard like, 40, you're done, you're a has-been, it's over. And I think we're proving that to be wrong in so many ways. Not just on reality TV, but in life."
Beauvais also shared her optimism about the progress she's seen for women in our society, with women greenlighting projects and serving as executive producers on movies and TV shows. Her hope is that one day soon a Black female director is nominated for an Oscar, and that movies that show the diversity of Black women's lives get more recognition and win big awards.
"I feel like it's usually through traumatic [stories], whether it's a slave movie. We've seen those and we've needed to see those. But now it's the time -- let's just have movies about people. Let's just continue letting women shine and be the bosses that we are."
The single mother of three sons also talked about her current obsession: Netflix's Love is Blind, a dating reality TV show. "I truly wonder if love is blind? Can you connect with someone and never see them and then decide to marry them? I am obsessed, because I think the show is really different. It just makes me think. It's a social experiment of can you truly connect with someone and fall in love without seeing them? That's fascinating to me."
Listen to my conversation with Beauvais in the player above. Or subscribe to I'm So Obsessed on your favorite podcast app. In each episode, Patrick Holland or I catch up with an artist, actor or creator to learn about their work, career and current obsessions.