By Tika Sumpter
Tika Sumpter doesn’t consider herself a rarity in Hollywood, even if many of her fans do. Sumpter has spent the last 10 years building an impressive résumé that includes roles on popular television shows such as Gossip Girl, The Game, and The Haves and the Have Nots, which airs on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. This winter she’ll also star in Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas.
But while it’s undoubtedly Sumpter’s acting chops that keep her regularly employed, some would argue that her mile-high cheekbones, alluring smile, and striking ebony complexion also have something to do with it. In an industry that often fails to celebrate or recognize women who don’t fit the traditional ideal of beauty, Sumpter has managed to rise above the stereotypes and preconceived notions of just who is considered attractive and why. Sumpter shared with The Daily Beast her thoughts on the new documentary Dark Girls, set to air this Sunday at 10 p.m. on OWN, and her hopes for a new generation of young brown women struggling just to feel “good enough.”
One of my favorite childhood memories is of listening to my mother describe the look on my father’s face the day I was born. Whenever my mother shares this story, she somehow manages to re-create it with images so vivid, I can simply close my eyes and feel as if I were still there cuddled in her arms.
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.
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!”