After moving from Haiti as a teenager, Garcelle Beauvais almost instantly starting working, snagging modeling jobs and roles on Miami Vice and Coming to America. She would become a mainstay of TV in the 1990s, with roles on The Jamie Foxx Show and NYPD Blue. Now, the mom of three is juggling a podcast (Going to Bed with Garcelle), cohosting the popular talk show The Real, and making history as the first Black cast member of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. In between, Beauvais finds time for philanthropy, including Black and HIV causes. Here’s how she balances it all:
You’re acting, hosting, doing a podcast, starring on a reality show. So many people are struggling to return to their routine — what’s your advice?
For me, it’s all about seizing an opportunity. I feel like I still have an immigrant mentality, like if an opportunity comes, I have to take it because I’m so grateful. It’s prioritizing. Once you get that opportunity, that window, seize the moment; jump back in. Some people think if they jump back in there might be mistakes, but we all make mistakes anyway — who cares? And hopefully if you jump back in it’s something you love — you’ll be motivated, you’ll wake up in the morning, [and] take all the steps you need to make sure you show up with intention.
You have a lot of history of philanthropy and giving back to causes. Was that instilled in you as a child?
Not in that way. We didn’t know about doing charity work. My mom was always in the mindset of helping the less fortunate, but it wasn’t in a strategic way. If we had extra food, especially when we were in Haiti, [we’d give it away to the less fortunate]. Coming to the States, that’s when I realized I had a platform and it’s not just for me to look cute and promote my stuff. I have to give back because when you do that, it’s a community thing, it’s a village thing, we all have to help each other as much as we can.
Beauvais arrives for the world premiere of Marvel Studios’ Eternals in L.A.
You recently wrote a letter to President Biden on his administration’s treatment of migrants. Are you hopeful he takes a more humane approach?
Oh gosh, I hope so. Not only with Haiti, but I see what’s happening with the Ukrainians fleeing their country and I think that’s what America is about. We can’t turn our backs on people when they need us the most; it’s not very American. That’s what I really wanted to resonate in my letter. Prior to Trump, I felt like we were a different America, we helped each other out. That’s what I want us to get back to.
You’ve been a champion of amfAR and the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Why are those causes important to you?
For me, it’s been a longstanding thing. I remember growing up, if someone was gay, they’d whisper it and I never understood it. Like, why are you whispering that? Boys and girls in Haiti who were gay were not treated well or seen as e
qual. For me, it’s always been, who cares who you love, who cares who you are as long as you are a good human being. I’m always telling my kids I’d love them if they were gay and they say, “Mom, we’re not gay.” And I say, “Well, I’d love you anyway!” I want them to know acceptance is important.
Beauvais and her RHOBH costars attend Elton John AIDS Foundation 30th Annual Academy Awards Viewing Party
How extreme is anti-HIV stigma in Haiti?
It’s worse [than in the U.S.]. Some people who are super religious will say it’s a curse from God. Didn’t God teach us all to love one another? It’s definitely different. I certainly think, and hope, it’s a little better these days but there is still a stigma to [HIV].
What do you think will end the stigma?
I think it’s talking about it more; being more open-minded. I talk to my glam team and they all tell me stories about how one of their parents won’t accept them and they can never bring anyone home. Parents are missing out on these great, short years that we all have to love our kids.
There’s been so many advances in HIV treatment and prevention. Are you hopeful for a cure or vaccine in our lifetime?
That would be amazing, absolutely. That’s what’s great about charities like the Elton John Foundation; he does not give up. He’s a beacon of hope. With the funds, one day there will be a vaccine. If we can figure out COVID, come on!
You recently emceed an event for the Association of Black Women Physicians. Why is this organization important to you?
I have a group of Black actresses; we have a group text. We’re always going, “Do you have a Black dermatologist? Do you have a Black gyno?” It’s not so much about them truly being Black, but our skin is different. When I go to the doctor, I never see pictures on the wall that show the color of my skin. We want to support these Black physicians and make sure we have more Black kids going into med school, so we can have representation in our doctors’ offices.
Did you feel any pressure being the first Black cast member of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills?
Oh yeah, that was huge. A friend of mine had to talk me off the ledge right before it started airing. Whenever you’re the first of anything, there’s pressure and people are looking to see how you’re doing it. I really just wanted to be organically, authentically me. And I think I’ve been able to do that. But the first season for sure, there was pressure. Is she going to be angry? Is she going to flip tables? Although those can be fun TV moments, that’s not who I am.
Loni Love, Beauvais, Nneka Onuorah, and Meagan Good at the 15th Annual ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood Awards Luncheon