Jodie Turner Smith was recently cover-profiled by Elle UK to promote all of her projects, including her role in Murder Mystery 2. Jodie gave birth to her daughter Janie in April 2020, during the pandemic/lockdown, with her husband Joshua Jackson there for the home birth. Can’t believe it’s been three years already, because I almost wrote “Jodie recently gave birth.” The pandemic really f–ked up my sense of time, but I think it did the same for everyone else too. Anyway, I reference Janie Jackson (how cute is that name) because Jodie talks a lot about what it will be like for her to raise a biracial daughter. Some highlights from Elle:
Her little nepo baby: “I love this little girl so much. She’s so funny. It’s a big job to prepare children for the world. The best thing that we can do is let them touch the earth and be grounded and real – as real as one can be when you have the level of privilege that obviously my child has. I’m not acting like she’s not a nepo baby. ButI worked damn hard to have a nepo baby!
Her daughter will experience the world differently: “She is going to have a completely different experience in the world than I did, because I have given birth to a mixed-race girl. It’s interesting because I had a lot of resistance to becoming a mother and, throughout my life, I always said if I were to have children, I wanted to have Black, Black babies so that I could affirm them as children with the love that I felt I needed to have been affirmed with by the outside world. Then I fell in love with my husband and we talked about having kids. To decide not to have a child with somebody you love, just because they’re white, was insane to me. But, at the same time, I did have this mini pause, where I was like, ‘She’s going to be walking through the world not only having an experience that I did not have, but looking like people that, in a way, I’d always felt a little bit tormented by.’ Now that I’ve got this little, tiny, light-skinned boss, I feel like it’s the universe teaching me lessons. I’ve been given a daughter who looks this way to heal my own conversations around colourism.
On colorism in Hollywood forever: “I was watching an old movie the other day, Stormy Weather  with Bill Robinson and Lena Horne. It’s an all Black cast, and there is not one single dark-skinned woman. Back then, it was OK to have a dark-skinned male lead, but the woman had to be light. That was what was held up as a kind of beauty. If it was a dark-skinned Black woman, then it’s a Mammy character, a desexualised character. For a longtime in entertainment any sort of dark-skinned figures were held up as unattractive. That has a huge effect on the zeitgeist and it trickles down….you’ve never seen anybody who looks like you held up as beautiful. That definitely affected my psyche. Anyone who has known me throughout my life would say, ‘Oh, Jodie has very high self-esteem.’ But it affected me, I just faked it till I made it. It wasn’t until adulthood that I began to come into myself. For a long time, people would even say to me, ‘You’re so pretty…for a dark-skinned girl.’
That’s one of the realest conversations I’ve ever read about colorism within the context of motherhood – a dark-skinned woman wanting a dark-skinned child so she could give the child the love and validation that she never got. And then ending up with a white man and having a light-skinned daughter. It’s very real! I always think about what the Duchess of Sussex went through, with all of that ridiculous and racist attention given to what color their children would be… and then she gave birth to two pale ginger babies. I’ve always wondered if there was part of Meghan which was like “I secretly hope these babies come out dark as hell, because f–k all of these people.” Seriously though.
Photos courtesy of Cover Images, Avalon Red. Cover courtesy of Elle UK.
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