Meghan Markle’s weekly series Archetypes returned with its second episode this morning, just one day after Meghan’s big The Cut interview came out. Meghan had guest Mariah Carey on to discuss the negative connotation attached to the word “diva.” While the two spent the bulk of the 45-minute episode discussing Carey’s own journey and career, the women also discussed very candidly how being mixed race shaped the public’s view of them—and the way they saw themselves because of it.
Meghan admitted that it wasn’t until she was Prince Harry’s girlfriend that some of the public started treating her as a Black woman more than a mixed one.
Meghan started by telling Carey, “You were so formative for me. Representation matters so much. 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… Someone kind of looks like me.”
Carey 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,” Meghan 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,” Carey said. “We don’t, we don’t, I don’t believe in numbers.”
Meghan went on to say, “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.’ So she said because she was darker in color, 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. 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. 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.”
“But, but that’s an interesting thing,” Carey said. “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.”
“Yes,” Meghan said.
“And so, like, my father’s father’s mother was Venezuelan, my great great grandmother. Right? But my father’s family is Black. So everybody is like her father is Venezuelan and Black because they didn’t know how to put me in that box,” Carey continued. “They want to put you in a box and categorize you. Right?”
The two later went on to talk more about the term diva, leading to a moment Meghan later said gave her pause: when Carey called her a diva on the podcast.
“You give us diva moments sometimes, Meghan,” Carey said.
“I do—what kind of diva moments do I give you?” Meghan replied.
“Don’t even act like—don’t act like,” Carey said. Carey went on to say it’s the visual that gave Meghan diva vibes. “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 said.
“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,” Carey elaborated. “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. 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…”
Meghan later reflected at the end of the episode about how that moment made her feel: “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? 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. 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. And it actually made me realize 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.”
You can listen to the full conversation between Carey and Meghan here on Spotify.
Alyssa Bailey is the senior news and strategy editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage of celebrities and royals (particularly Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton). She previously held positions at InStyle and Cosmopolitan. When she’s not working, she loves running around Central Park, making people take #ootd pics of her, and exploring New York City.