It’s the season of Meghan Markle, after the Duchess released the second episode of her podcast Archetypes, where she sat down with Mariah Carey to talk about the ramifications of being called ‘divas’ as women of colour.
The second episode of her podcast, titled “The Duality Of Diva”, comes after she spoke with tennis legend Serena Williams in the first episode, and one day after an interview where the Duchess claims how she was essentially pushed out of the royal family.
While chatting with whistle-tone master Mariah, the pair shone a spotlight on how it has felt to both be labelled as a ‘diva’ by the media, with Mariah sharing that constantly moving as a child made it harder to fit in.
“It would be more of the Black area of town or then you could be where my mum chose to live, were the more, the white neighbourhoods. And I didn’t fit in anywhere at all,” she shared, as per People.
And Meghan could sympathise with the division she felt as a child, sharing how important it was that Mariah could be a role model for children like herself.
“You were so formative for me. Representation matters so much,” she told Mariah. “But when you are a woman and you don’t see a woman who looks like you somewhere in a position of power or influence, or even just on the screen—because we know how influential media is—you came onto the scene, I was like ‘Oh, my gosh. Someone kind of looks like me’.”
Then Mariah asked, “Did you feel like, I know that this person is, like I can tell she’s Black and white?”
“Yes, yeah. Yes. I could feel that,” the Duchess said. “Yeah, even at that young age. And it’s so funny because I remember when I was young, I can’t put a number to it; I would imagine 12 or 13.”
“We don’t want a number. Because they’re going to try to do the calculations,” Mariah replied. “We don’t, we don’t, I don’t believe in numbers.”
Referencing another Hollywood star who is mixed race, Meghan pointed out how mixed race women are treated vastly different depending on how deep their skin tone is.
“I had read this article about Halle Berry, and they were asking her how she felt being treated as a mixed-race woman in the world. And her response was her saying, ‘Well, your experience through the world is how people view you’,” the Duchess shared.
“So she said because she was darker in colour, she was being treated as a Black woman, not as a mixed woman. And I think for us, it’s very different because we’re light-skinned. You’re not treated as a Black woman. You’re not treated as a white woman. You sort of fit in between.”
“But, but that’s an interesting thing,” Mariah replied. “A mixed woman, because I always thought it should be okay to say I’m mixed. Like it should be okay to say that. But people want you to choose.”
But it was when Meghan began dating Prince Harry that her experience changed for the worst, saying that it was then that she began being “treated like a Black woman”.
“I mean, if there’s any time in my life that it’s been more focused on my race, it’s only once I started dating my husband,” she confessed, adding, “Then I started to understand what it was like to be treated like a Black woman. Because up until then, I had been treated like a mixed woman. And things really shifted”.
As mixed women in the spotlight, both Meghan and Mariah have endured certain terms assigned to them, specfically the term ‘diva’, which they discuss after Mariah calls the Duchess the name.
“You give us diva moments sometimes, Meghan,” Mariah said, to which the Duchess replied, “I do—what kind of diva moments do I give you?”
“Don’t even act like—don’t act like,” the “Fantasy” singer said, adding that it’s the visual that gives Meghan diva energy. “A lot it is the visual because let’s say you didn’t have the visual—”
“See that’s the thing, I associate it differently,” Meghan replied.
“I know, but let’s pretend that you didn’t—weren’t so beautiful and didn’t have the whole thing and didn’t often have gorgeous ensembles,” Mariah continued. “You wouldn’t get, maybe get as much diva stuff. I don’t care. I’m like, when I can, I’m going to give you diva.”
She continued, “But the thing is, you’re like, we started out at Dreamlover with the curly hair, the plaid shirt, the thing. That was what they wanted for me. They wanted Girl Next Door. So I always admired the Marilyn Monroes, the Sophia Lorens. Of course, all the beautiful Black actresses that never got there…”
Later reflecting on Mariah calling her a diva, Meghan shared that the moment left her feeling rather floored.
“It stopped me in my tracks… when she called me a diva! You couldn’t see me, obviously, but I, I started to sweat a little bit,” she said.
“I started squirming in my chair in this quiet revolt, like, ‘Wait, wait, no, what? How? But? How could you? That’s not true, that’s not… Why would you say that?'” she added.
“My mind genuinely was just spinning with what nonsense she must have read or clicked on to make her say that. I just kept thinking, in that moment, was my girl crush coming to a quick demise? Does she actually not see me? So she must have felt my nervous laughter, and you all would’ve heard it too.”
She continued, “And she jumped right in to make sure I was crystal clear. When she said diva, she was talking about the way that I dress, the posture, the clothing, the quote unquote, fabulousness as she sees it. She meant diva as a compliment. But I heard it as a dig. I heard it as the word diva, as I think of it.”
“But, in that moment, as she explained to me, she meant it as chic, as aspirational. And how one very charged word can mean something different for each of us, it’s mind blowing to me,” she confessed, adding, “And it actually made me realise that in these episodes, as I’ve opened the door for conversation surrounding the archetypes that try to hold us back.”
“What I hadn’t considered was that for some, reclaiming the words is what they feel will propel us forward.”