Most famous for her role as Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show, Phylicia Rashad entered our homes and hearts each week with her loving, and real voice of an attorney, mother and wife. With each year, Phylicia seems to get more elegant, poised and graceful.
But if you ask her, she says it was her mother, a poet, who gave her a sense of duty about exploring her full potential. She says, “It’s interesting how you wander through things. Grace is always present, and there comes a time when you really must be conscious of that presence and turn your face to it. Otherwise, you’re just walking blindly through life.”
Being the mother figure that many could relate to on TV, many wondered where she got her motherly love from. Growing up in Houston, Texas when segregation was legal, Phylicia’s mom was determined to keep her children from the horrors of segregation.
“When there was a place we wanted to go as children, but where we couldn’t go because of segregation,” explains the now 74-year-old Rashad. “My mother would say, ‘We can’t go there because that’s a private club and we aren’t members of that club.'”
Then at age 13, Rashad’s mother moved her and her sister to Mexico City to avoid segregation in the U.S.
“Growing up in Mexico City turned out to be quite the adventure for me because growing up in segregated Texas where people didn’t like me. But then in Mexico City as a 13-year-old…they loved the color of my skin.”
The Broadway, television and film actress has much to be thankful for besides being a respected, award-winning fixture on screen. Rashad has grown into what it means to be a successful Black woman in Hollywood. But even with all the success, would she change anything about how she got here?
As she reflects on her journey, Rahsad has written a letter is to her 21-year-old self about what the young Phylicia should do:
Romantic involvement distracts you and can blind you to what’s really in front of you. And what really is in front of you? You are. You don’t even know yourself yet. You think you know and you want to assert that you do, now that you’re a certain age, but you don’t. What’s in front of you is a whole world of experiences beyond your imagination. Put yourself, and your growth and development, first. There are long-term repercussions to…