By anyone’s standards, Tika Sumpter is a beautiful woman. More importantly, she’s a talented actress who has earned roles in Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and the Have Nots,” HBO’s Bessie, the “Ride Along” movie series, and even as Michelle Obama in the upcoming Barack Obama biopic Southside. Although Sumpter is successfully making her way up the Hollywood ranks, the actress recently opened up about her experience in film and TV and explained what it’s like to be a dark-skinned celebrity.
Sumpter shared her experiences as a dark-skinned Black woman in a recent essay for Hello Beautiful and explained that her family has a diverse array of skin tones, but among her siblings she’s the only one with dark skin. According to Sumpter, her rich ebony complexion was praised by her father.
“It’s important to understand that I was born into a family with seven children, each of us equipped with varying personalities, dispositions, and, yes, skin tones as well. My mom has the most beautiful café au lait complexion, which she shares with my two older sisters and older brother. My three younger siblings have skin tones that range from caramel to a golden bronze. And then there’s me,” Sumpter said.
“My mother says that when my father, a striking man with kind eyes, broad shoulders, and deep ebony-brown skin, first saw me in the hospital that day, his eyes lit up brightly as he promptly proclaimed, “’She has my color. She looks like me!’ ” Sumpter said.
Sumpter went on to explain that the praise she received as a child over her skin tone helped her navigate life with a sense of pride about her Blackness and that as an adult she was hurt to see and hear stories of other dark-skinned girls being demeaned and degraded over their skin tone. However, she explained that she was humbled to see that she could influence positive change for Black women when she landed a role on the CW’s “Gossip Girl.”
“Each week I’d get the tons of letters from mothers, grandmothers, and young girls literally thanking me for simply existing. They wrote me saying they’d never seen a woman that looked like me on television before,” Sumpter said.
“Which really meant they’d never seen anyone that looked like them before. And it got much deeper than that. Some fans even remarked that they’d never witnessed any woman with my skin color speak the way I spoke, have a successful career the way I had on that show, or carry themselves in such a ladylike manner,” she added.
But that’s not all that Sumpter had to say on the subject. Read what she had to say about dating as a dark-skinned woman after the cut.