If the past few years have taught us anything, it has taught us these three simple truths: Representation matters. Actions matter. And, truth matters. From these principles we are all called on as an industry of dreamers to do our part to create safe spaces where everyone can realize their dreams and benefit from the fruits of their labor. Equal opportunity, access, and pay are not options, they are requirements.
I am a living, breathing visual reminder that the American Dream is real and, more importantly, that it is possible. Born in Haiti and immigrating to the United States at the age of seven, I witnessed firsthand how the steadfast belief in hope can change lives and generations. Belief without action and opportunity, however, is hollow. I have realized great success in my decades in this industry, but it has not been without racially-charged obstacles being thrown in my path. I have heard many "no's" based on the color of my skin. I've accepted far less than warranted, cloaked in disingenuous excuses. Swallowed endless pride just to grasp the fraying corner of an opportunity in hopes that it would lead to bigger and better down the road. All this because I am a Black woman in Hollywood. But still I fought. Fought for what I know I deserved. Fought for what I know I was due. Fought out of the realization that my presence mattered and made a difference on some level.
As an industry, we must make sure that we take a hard look at the inequities that exist at every level, both in front of and behind the camera. On set and in decision making rooms. If we can tell diverse stories depicting diverse, courageous acts, why can't we truly live and reflect it? When will our reality catch up to our imaginations? My hope is sooner rather than later.
We are an industry of words, lofty thoughts and bold, brave actions. We are an industry that mirrors the beauty and pain of the best of and worst of what it means to be human. Let's do more than just talk about it... let's do the hard work of making sure it becomes our reality and the reality of talented generations to come.
Garcelle Beauvais is an actress, television personality, author, former fashion model, and co-host of the daytime talk show The Real.
The statements and viewpoints expressed in the article above are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily represent or reflect the opinions or viewpoints of the Television Academy, the Television Academy Foundation, or their members, officers, directors, employees, or sponsors.