Garcelle Beauvais has had an impressive career in entertainment. One of the actress’s first roles was as a ring bearer in Eddie Murphy’s 1988 cult classic, Coming to America. From there, Beauvais’ charming personality, along with her deep dimpled smile, earned her guest spots in ‘90s sitcoms like The Cosby Show, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Family Matters before landing one her most notable roles as Francesca “Fancy” Monroe on The Jamie Foxx Show.
Recently, the Haitian American actress cemented her place in Hollywood with another iconic casting – becoming the first Black housewife of one of Bravo’s most successful franchises, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (RHOBH). Despite her longevity in the industry, Beauvais’ personal and professional journey has been filled with highs and lows. From a simple childhood in Haiti to walking the red carpets in New York and Los Angeles, Beauvais’ new memoir, Love Me As I Am (on bookshelves April 12th), provides fans with an intimate look inside the actress’s life.
The memoir is a natural extension of Beauvais’ recent transparency with her fans. Along with hosting her own relationship podcast, Going to Bed with Garcelle, she co-hosted the progressive daytime talk show The Real, and regularly shares behind-the-scenes glam looks for her million-plus followers on Instagram.
With Love Me As I Am, Beauvais shares candid stories of her childhood, infertility struggles, parenting woes, and dealing with marital infidelity. It’s a different look for Beauvais who says that despite her past pressure to always portray the “good girl,” she’s ready to share her life with the world.
“The reason why [this book] makes sense to me right now is that I feel like I’m in a good place personally and professionally, but also I’ve made some peace with the past and forgiven some people and also forgiven myself. I think that’s why I’ve been able to write the book – it just felt right,” Beauvais says.
In the book, Beauvais opens up about her childhood growing up in Saint-Marc, and discusses her relationship with her father, which at first she was worried about sharing. She also writes about her painful divorce from Mike Nilon which she says was another difficult topic to write about.
“What I was scared about is the fact that I’ve never really talked about my relationship with my father or the lack thereof. I really feel like that shaped me in terms of the men I chose in my life. So I was really nervous about writing that because of my family, and I was nervous about reliving my divorce. But I’ve made peace with it,” Beauvais confesses.
In the past, Beauvais says she had an ongoing struggle between her rebellious nature and her desire to be seen as “a good girl.” She also says that her “disease to please” comes from her Haitian upbringing, but as she’s gotten older, she’s decided to put herself first and live on her own terms.
“I was brought up, especially in the Haitian culture, to be nice – and nice to a fault that I was not being nice to myself. Even when I was taking acting classes, I couldn’t get mad in a scene because that went against what I was supposed to be,” Beauvais says. “I was putting other people first, but once I came more into my womanhood, I thought, ‘I can be nice but still stand up for myself.’”
Beauvais’ ability to stand up for herself was on display during the last season of the RHOBH, and viewers tuned in to see her tackle racism and police brutality with her castmates and have frank discussions with her friends on camera about being Black in Hollywood.
“[On The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills] I’m most proud of being authentically me because I felt pressure to portray what people thought I should be. I wanted to infuse my culture, and I wanted to bring in a little bit of my sass. What’s been good about it is that we’ve been able to have really meaningful conversations.”
The actress adds, “Although I know it’s an entertainment show, having a diverse cast, we’re going to have diverse conversations and that’s what I’m proud of. I’m proud that we’ve been able to talk about what the world is talking about, especially around Black Lives Matter and how Black people are treated in a way without laboring it but by stating the facts. I bring diversity to the show – so why wouldn’t I talk about it?”
The popular reality show introduced a new demographic of fans to Beauvais, and she writes in her book that while being on television wasn’t new to her, she worried about filming with her teenage sons and sharing what used to be a private life. After the first season wrapped, however, Beauvais writes that she was proud of the way she showed up and happy with her portrayal as someone who was ‘funny and full of energy” and “a hands-on mother.”
“I have no regrets [with the show] as of now. I try not to live my life with regrets because I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be even in the midst of turmoil. Even when I was going through my divorce, I remember I was in so much pain and I drove to the beach because that’s where I feel like I get grounded. I feel like I’m near God and it’s so peaceful. Even in the midst of that pain, I remember hearing “You’re exactly where you need to be.”
Beauvais’ purpose-driven life has led her to three decades of acting in Hollywood, first in television roles and then in major movies like White House Down and Spiderman: Homecoming. And while Beauvais says there’s been a lot of progress in Hollywood, she also argues there’s much more work that needs to be done.
She says, “I’ve seen a lot of change. The fact that we’re producing, we’re greenlighting, we’re leads in television shows, leads in movies – it’s been a long time coming. We knew our strengths and what we bring, but it’s nice to see the people who make the decisions now realize that.”
Beauvais continues, “But I want to see more stories about us – and I don’t want to see any more slave stories. We know the story, we’ve seen it. Show us in different lights. I want to see stories about families and relationships an what we’ve accomplished.”
Beauvais also has big plans on her own, recently signing a deal with NBCUniversal Television and Streaming Entertainment to produce projects across the company’s platforms through her production company, Garcelle Beauvais Productions. Though she’s excited about the future, Beauvais knows the importance of reflecting on the roller coaster that got her to where she is today. She also hopes her memoir will encourage other women through her stories of struggle and success.
She says, “I think with this book, I hope I can inspire women. The book is an example of how I feel about friendships and women supporting themselves and working against adversity. We have to redefine who we are, rediscover who we are. I’m looking forward to continuing this journey, and I couldn’t have dreamt this big as a little girl in Haiti that my life would be what it is.”