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Caymanian Actress and Empire Star Grace Gealey Didn’t Experience "Colorism" Until She Came

Do we have colorism problem in America? Most definitely.

As we told you a few weeks ago when we profiled her, Grace Gealey was born to a white father and black mother and grew up in the Cayman Islands before traveling to the states to attend college in Florida.

While the move may have been a little bit of a culture shock for the bare-footed island girl who grew up “climbing trees and picking fruit to sell on the side of the road,” nothing was more shocking than America’s colorism issue among African-Americans.

In an interview with DETAILS magazine, the biracial Empire beauty revealed colorism as the thing that surprised her the most about American women. Grace tells the mag shade wasn’t a big deal back home because it was all about culture and that everyone shared the same culture. It wasn’t until she moved to the United States, where she received “pushback” from women and their pre-conceived notions about light-skinned women, that she realized she was a light-skinned Black woman.

For me personally, it’s the whole light-skinned/dark-skinned dynamic [for women of color]. I mean, there’s competition among women everywhere you go. But back home we understand that you can look like a variety of things and still be from the same culture. What I’m saying is that I’ve never felt like I was a light-skinned black woman. Never felt that way because we shared the same culture back home. But when I came to America, that’s when I started to feel that there was a lot of pushback from women. I was definitely made aware that I am light-skinned. I realized that was a thing here.

It was something that people felt the need to point out. I guess maybe it’s a form of intra racism: I was discriminated against for being light-skinned and there were a lot of labels. Some people assumed that guys might like me more because of my complexion or that I had it easier in general. Which is funny because I’ve been a victim of prejudice as well: There were times when I have walked into a Rite Aid at 12 o’clock at night and had the store manager stand in the corner and stare at me while I was looking at nail polishes.

It’s crazy how she got discriminated against by other Black women for being light-skinned while also getting discriminated against by the white Rite-Aid manager because she’s black. At the end of the day, no matter the shade or hue, black is black.

Elsewhere in her interview, Grace talks about how being raised by a single, deaf mother made her independent and what she looks for in a man. Not that she’s looking because she’s off the market and engaged to co-star Trai Bryers.

On independence while in a relationship:

I was raised by a single, black, deaf woman, so I am as independent as they come. I think it took some time for me to allow room for someone else to be there for me. But in my recent years, I’ve learned that it’s okay to be vulnerable and to allow someone else not to take care of me but to love me in a way that’s not limited. I feel like I have gotten much better at that.

On the type of man she likes:

I’m a very spiritual person and I believe in God and all that kind of stuff. So my perfect type of guy would be spiritually grounded, extremely respectful and funny because I love to laugh.

On preferred character traits:

I would say to be a gentlemen. A lot of women want the bad boys and we’ve all gone through that. But I want a man who is respectful, and I don’t just mean in the beginning of the relationship. It’s a part of who he is: He always opens doors and speaks to me like I am royalty and respects me in that way, even in times of conflict or stress. There is just nothing more attractive.

On the importance of a man having firm abs:

A six or a seven [on a scale of how important firm abs on a man are]. I have dated people who didn’t have firm abs and I was super in love with them. I mean, firm abs are nice and we all really want them. But it’s not a make or break if you’re a dream.

On women fantasizing about finding Prince Charming:

Deep down somewhere we all [fantasize about finding Prince Charming]. I love being an independent woman but sometimes it can be overwhelming. So the idea that there is someone to catch you and not allow you to fall? There is something really darling about that. We all have our weak moments as women so to know that there’s someone who loves us when we’re feeling insecure and is ready to pump us up when we feel like we didn’t give the best presentation at work? It feels great to know that we’re enough in today’s society considering the way that the media has spun the woman-man dynamic—because women start to feel like we’re not enough for the men out there.

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