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If there’s one thing that helps me on my journey as an actress its being able to hear about the testimonies and celebrate fellow actresses. Part of my journey to learning to love myself is to love others and seeing others succeed is a sure way to fill me with joy, plus who doesn’t want to hear about women in any industry slaying and conquering?
There was a time where certain things weren’t discussed and the lack of representation across industries was one of them. There was a norm and we stuck to that norm because the status quo was held with more regard than the ushering in of progress, which for most of us could not have been more detrimental to a lot of us as as we grew up, but things are changing.
Now we seem to be much more comfortable opening up and having honest dialogues about where we are at and who we are and trying to debunk and undo years of unhealthy brainwashing. I love that we are using the arts to help change and challenge perspectives so that the audiences being reached are as diverse as the people telling the stories.
Those changes are paving the way for novices like me who are still green and grafting. These women are challenging what it means to be woman in the industry. We are being seen and heard, we are no longer just poor stereotypes, but we are getting to represent three dimensional women that we know in our everyday. Beautiful, funny, talented, complicated, kind and generous women.
One of the things that I am grateful for is that not only are these women getting to share the narrative of being a plus body, but they are also making it so that soon it wont matter what is in front of you, it will be inclusive, it will be loved and lovable and it will be a true representation of the world we live in.
That makes for a pretty exciting future!
So in no particular order, because how on earth could I compare these incredibly unique, extremely talented and outstandingly gorgeous women to each other, here’s the list of my favourite seven plus size actresses.
Danielle Brooks – Well known for portraying the role of “Tastyee” on OITNB Danielle is not only an incredible young actress but she is now an important voice in the body positive movement and in the plus size community. It’s her journey to become more visible from the acclaimed Netflix show that pushed Danielle to start exploring her own body positive journey and speaking out about her struggles and her triumphs!
Image courtesy of Glamour
Jolene Purdy – Another OITNB cast member, (can you tell I’m a fan of the show), but Jolene has been around for a long time, and if you think back you will definitely remember her from some of your favourite tv shows and movies! For example Jolene breakthrough came in indie film Donnie Darko as character Cherita Chen. Yes that’s her! The beginning of her career Jolene has gone on to be in some other really fantastic shows. Unapologetic, hilarious and with a wicked sense of style, she is also representing the under-represented Asian community. I can’t wait to see what Jolene moves onto next.
Adrienne C. Moore – Okay so you can tell I’m mildly obsessed with the cast from OITNB, but to be fair can you blame me? I’m in a candy store with the amount of fierce, plus sized, racially diverse incredible actresses. How could I not put them on the list, considering the release of the new series! Adrienne makes the list because she is perfection; known for her part of “Black Cindy” in the show, Adrienne is a force to be reckoned with. Her ability to guide us through such a colourful emotional journey at any given time shows that her ability to be versatile is not only incredible, but still untapped. She is another actress and body positive activist that will remain on my radar and continue to inspire me!
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Octavia Spencer – Now Ms Spencer has been working for years, and as a kid I grow up knowing her as one of the few black and plus sized women that would appear in tv shows and films as a secondary character, but regardless she had been doing something that is tough for any act and that’s working consistently. It wasn’t until the 2011 film adaption of the book “The Help” that Ms Spencer became a household name and Oscar winner for her performance as a 1960s African American maid during the civil rights movement. We all know that now iconic line “Eat my s***” which catapulted Ms Spencer, now in her 40s, into a completely other place in her career. She is a living example of being incredible and consistent and being rewarded for that. She is an inspiration to us all, never changing or molding herself to fit into the hollywood “standards” of what is beautiful in order to get the acclaim she deserves.
Sharon D Clarke – I’d argue that Ms Clarke is most definitely a black british counterpart to Ms Spencer. Ms Clarke has been a role model of mine since I was a child. Now if it was hard to see a plus size African American body on the screen, it was even harder to see a black British one, and Ms Clarke became just that for me. Her career spans TV, film and theatre and she is undoubtedly someone that I look up to and admire. I recently had the privilege of seeing her at the Southwark playhouse in a musical called “The Life” and if it wasn’t a matinee and I wasn’t too scared of embarrassing myself, I would have yelled even louder than my inappropriate but formal yelling would allow. She has and will always be a force to be reckoned with. She has a presence that is unmistakable and more importantly she is representing the hundreds of young black British and plus sized actresses like myself. She paved the way for us and for that I could not be more grateful. Thank you Queen D.
Dascha Polanco – Guys, don’t berate me this way, this is the last OITNB actress I’ll talk about I SWEAR, but believe me Dascha deserves a mention. Nurse turned actress and now body positive and Latina activist, she is not only an inspiration, but an example of how its never too late to achieve your dream. I’m sure if you told her ten – no, five – years ago that she would be where she is now, she wouldn’t have believed you, but her she is being a voice for those who don’t have one. She represents the plus size and Latina communities beautifully and I can’t think of a better and more talented ambassador. OITNB is just the beginning of this gorgeous women’s career and I’m excited to see what the future holds for her!
Image courtesy of ET Online
Sharon Rooney – Glaswegian Goddess, Rooney is well known for her phenomenal portrayal of Rae in E4’s My Mad Fat Diary. A look into the world of a fat teen with mental health issues, and a troubled home life. For the first time it was like a light was being shone on the issues that most of us have faced or are facing as young people in Britain. How many of us watched the often heartbreaking but also inspiring journey of Rae as she navigated loving herself, her family and friends while battling with anxiety, eating disorders and body image? Seeing some of her own stories played out in front of us was a gift that kept on giving, but also a responsibility that Rooney herself did not take for granted. A body positive babe herself, as an actor what greater gift can you be given than to tell an important story, a unique story, and a story that could change and sometimes save someones life? And that’s why we do what we do.
So there’s my list, I hope you hung in there with me, I hope you will go and look up these ladies yourself, and watch some of their work, but more importantly I hope knowing that they are out there encourages you! I hope knowing that we have champions in our community fighting to tell our stories gives you hope, and reassures you that your story is just as worthy as anyone else.