MN Exclusive: Blogger Pharrell Williams Shouted Out On Oprah Talks Photo Controversy And GIRL Album Drama
This past Sunday, we were glued to our televisions and completely enamored as Oprah Winfrey interviewed award-winning producer and singer Pharrell about his career, marriage, and fatherhood. While he gave thought-provoking responses, Oprah quizzed Pharrell on the recent controversy surrounding his GIRL album cover. When hip hop feminist Dream Hampton called him out for not having a darker skin women on the cover, the media and internet buzzed with the age-old issue of dark skin women not receiving enough coverage in the entertainment industry. As Pharrell explained the idea behind his cover, he sweetly shouted out Lauren Rogers (@TheLaurenRogers), a Pace University Alum and freelancer in marketing/music management for artist Isa Lopez. Pharrell reposted a photo of Rogers who “put on her robe” (imitating the women on his GIRL cover). The commentary on her photo was less than amiable on his Instagram page and showed how people are never satisfied, even when entertainers celebrate a variety of women. Yesterday, we met up with Lauren to gain insight on her photo’s backlash and why she remained a loyal Pharrell fan after the GIRL cover controversy.
Were you surprised by the backlash you received when Pharrell reposted your photo?
“I posted my photo to Instagram because I am a huge Pharrell fan (since his NERD days). That night I was about to go to the shower and I said to myself “Im feeling good in my robe. Let me take this picture.” I posted it and my friends and Pharrell liked and commented on it. The next day, Pharrell reposted it and initially it was fun to see everyone’s reaction to my photo until they became negative. I had to remember these people do not know me, at all. I could not take what they said about seriously.”
What were your initial thoughts on Pharrell’s GIRL cover?
“When I saw the cover of GIRL, I thought nothing of it. But in a conversation with my mom, she thought he should have had a darker skinned woman. I had to let her know, the woman next to him is black. The larger issue revolving around the cover is, trying to determine who is black enough or isn’t. It is not fair to judge someone’s worth by the color of their skin. My main priority with the album was to listen to it. After listening to it, as a woman I felt sexy, happy and free. I view the women on the cover as sexy because that is the way I felt after enjoying the music on the album.”
Do you think black women should be guaranteed representation in entertainers’ art work?
“I work with a few artists in the industry and I know how the creative process is. Sometimes, I do think there is a lack of representation where it concerns black women on the covers of albums and magazines. But at the end of the day, no one can tell an artist what to put in their work or what visuals to use. It is hard for artists to decide how they will use their creative control, especially if they feel obligated to do something. Sometimes artists just want to share their work with fans and others no matter what their album covers look like.”
What do you think about Pharrell’s new definition of sexy (i.e. putting your robe on)?
“I think it means feeling good about yourself! Since I am a college graduate and career woman it means to me, I need to embrace who I am. Yes, I will go through some struggles. Yes, there will be some hard times but at the end of the day I am still myself. I feel comfortable in my skin and I got my robe on, feeling powerful.”
Pharrell states his perception of the “new black” identity as not blaming other races for the issues blacks face in Western society. Do you agree with this idea?
“For black women, we always have to be better. I remember when I used to intern my mom would always tell my to dress up even if the office culture was casual. It is all about how you present yourself. Therefore, our struggles are our own person journeys. You cannot necessarily blame anyone because of the choices you make. You may not have an opportunity currently but when it comes, you must be ready!”
Pharrell prolifically said no one should seek confidence outside of their own mirror. What does that mean to you?
“I agree with him. You have to be able to validate your own self. That has been my biggest struggle but its conversations with my mother that center me. You may want to be friends with a certain kind of people or want a certain kind of job, but if you’re not happy nothing will work.”