From Model to Actress to Author, Garcelle Beauvais Does it all
Haitian-American model and actress Garcelle Beauvais has appeared on the big and small screen in productions like The Jamie Foxx Show, NYPD Blue, Wild Wild West with Will Smith and Flight with Denzel Washington. She began her career as a model for such clients as Avon, Mary Kay, Clairol, and Calvin Klein, and has modeled for Playboy. In 2014, at the age of 47, she was selected for People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful Women issue. Tokyo Journal Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie spoke with Garcelle about her career, charity work and new book.
TJ: How did you get started in your career?
BEAUVAIS: I got started as a model. I moved to Miami when I was about 16 and a half years old. I knew the lead girl in a Black is Beautiful commercial and I decided to drive to Fort Lauderdale without an appointment and see if the agency she was with would consider representing me. As I was driving, I stopped at a red light and put on lipstick while looking out the window at the mirror. Then this hand came in the car and startled me. It was the person who had stopped behind me and by chance she was the owner of the agency that I was on my way to see without an appointment. So, it was sort of kismet. I modeled with them for about a year in Miami and then I moved to New York where I lived with Eileen Ford and started my modeling career.
TJ: You were born in Haiti? Did you experience culture shock when you came to the U.S.?
BEAUVAIS: Yes. I left Haiti at the age of seven. As a matter of fact, today I posted on Instagram about Sesame Street’s 45th anniversary. That’s how I learned English when I came to the United States as I spoke French and Creole, but didn’t go to school here in the U.S. right away. There definitely was culture shock. It was the dead of winter, I didn’t speak a word of English and I hadn’t seen many white people before.
TJ: What has been your most challenging role?
BEAUVAIS: I have a movie out on Netflix called And Then There Was You. It is sort of art imitating life in terms of what I went through with my now ex-husband. I had done a lot of work to get through it and taking on that role brought it all back. Also, I had never done a sitcom or comedy so The Jamie Foxx Show was challenging. We’d rehearse during the week, but when the audience was there Jamie would feed off the audience’s energy and do improv so you’d have to try to keep up with him.
TJ: I understand that you wrote a book, I Am Living in Two Homes. Can you tell us about it?
BEAUVAIS: I have two books now under my belt and we just started production on my third with the I am concept. The books were inspired by my kids as I would always read to them, but I didn’t really find books that addressed a kid’s standpoint on diversity that would help them celebrate what they are and help them not to have to choose between their mom and their dad in terms of culture.
TJ: Can you tell us about your charity work?
BEAUVAIS: I support the Step Up Women’s Network. I feel that if women can support one another it makes life a little easier. I like giving back and having a voice. As an actor or celebrity, I think that it is my responsibility to give back.
TJ: Have you done any charity work for Haiti?
BEAUVAIS: Since the earthquake I’ve done a lot awareness related things. My family and I send packages of supplies almost every month. Actually, I’m going to Haiti with an organization called Fonkoze in mid-February and I can’t wait. Fonkoze helps educate women and helps them to start a business because they feel that those women will then be more likely to help their children get an education and start a business of their own.
TJ: What kind of advice do you give to young models or actresses who are just entering the profession?
BEAUVAIS: There’s a lot of rejection. You have to have tough skin, but you also have to persevere and be professional. Go to classes; learn as much as you can about the business. If you can be an extra on any TV shows or any commercials do it and just keep at it if it’s something you really want to do regardless of the rejections that you get. That’s part of the business. tj
The original article can be found in Issue #276 of the Tokyo Journal. Click here to order.