Tika Sumpter Reacts to ‘Dark Girls’, Recalls Receiving the Backhanded Compliment: ‘You’re Pretty For A Dark Skin Girl’

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Actress Tika Sumpter is known for her roles in the ‘Sparkle’ remake co-starring Jordin Sparks and Whitney Houston, BET’s, ‘The Game’ and most recently Tyler Perry’s scripted television show, ‘The Haves and Have Nots’ on Oprah’s OWN network. In response to the premiere of ‘Dark Girls,’ the 33-year-old, New York native shared her personal experiences growing up as a dark skinned girl, the impact of her role on Gossip Girl, and her path to self love. Peep the excerpts below.

Her Family: 

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!”

Watching ‘Dark Girls’:

I was recently reminded of my childhood as I watched the amazing documentary Dark Girls. My heart broke just listening to the stories of so many young girls with brown skin traumatized by the cruel and hurtful views of those around them.

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Response to Appearing on CW’s ‘Gossip Girl’:

I was truly unprepared for the tremendous impact I’d have while on that show. Each week I’d get the tons of letters from mothers, grandmothers, and young girls literally thanking me for simply existing. They wrote me saying they’d never seen a woman that looked like me on television before.

Reactions To Her Skin Color: 

Of course I did experience my share of hurtful reactions to my skin color, but thankfully only after I was an adult. Who hasn’t heard the obligatory, “You’re pretty for a dark-skin girl” Or my personal favorite, “I usually don’t date dark-skin women, but you’re so beautiful.” That one really warms the heart. But in reality, the most disturbing aspect of all of this is that those comments were most often made by men with exactly the same skin tone as my own.

Thoughts On Young Girls Today: 

It hurts me to know that so many young girls today are growing up without that same realization and reassurance. I also regret that so many are forced to seek their self-worth between the pages of mainstream magazines or in the background of a rap music video. I’d like to think that seeing someone like me on their televisions every week gives them some hope that things are changing slowly but surely. Finally, every day I’m thankful that I didn’t have to endure the pain that I know so many women do on a regular basis as a result of the color of their skin. My heart goes out to them all. And every day I’m even more thankful for a mother who was always there for me and a father (now deceased) whose first reaction to me on the day I was born paved my path to real self-love.

Tika stars in ‘A Madea Christmas’ to be released later this year and on ‘The Have and The Have Not’s,’ Tuesday nights at 9 PM on OWN. [Daily Beast, Instagram]

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Authored by: tjbwriteratlanta