Jodie Smith-Turner is now one of the most sought after actresses in Hollywood, but her road to fame was hard fought. Jodie, who plays the eponymous character “Queen” in Lena Waithe and Melina Matsoukas debut film, “Queen And Slim,” was picked for the role for her acting abilities and stunning looks, but it took a long time for the 33-year-old to feel comfortable in her own skin.
The actress took to Instagram to share a throwback photo of herself at 17, a time when she felt hated for her skin tone. In the yearbook photos, Jodie was named “most likely to succeed,” a title she clearly lived up to.
“Proof That The Glow Up Has Been Really Real 😅😅😅 it’s been soooo long since i’ve seen these pictures, but because the internet is undefeated, i found them! a blast from the past! i’m humbled when i look at this girl. 17 year old me. not just because of how i look on the outside, but because i remember how i felt on the inside. i remember how badly i hated myself and hated the dark skin that made people call me ugly. how i turned my helplessness at being unable to change my outward appearance inward, by constantly cleaving away any and all parts of myself that i was told made me unacceptable to others. how i changed my voice, changed my hair, became captain of this and president of that, used my intelligence to build a wall around me, spent years in the practice of bending and shaping myself into the most acceptable form of Jodie for the people around me until there was nothing of me left but hate for a person i didn’t recognise and fear that i had become someone it was impossible to come back from…AND, MY GOD, IT WAS EXHAUSTING!” she wrote to thousands of fans.
But eventually, Jodie was able to overcome the hatred she received and learned to love the skin she was born with.
“but i say all that to say this— i am grateful for the girl in these photos and for every part of this journey. because i couldn’t be me, now, if i wasn’t first her, then. when you know what it feels like to hate yourself, finally loving yourself is a freedom that cannot be matched by anyone else’s approval 🥰🥰🥰 also worth noting— i was voted Most Likely To Succeed! but we all thought it would be in somebody’s office 🤓.”
It makes it even more special that Jodie’s first leading role was as a dark skin woman, who was the center of desirability throughout the film.
“There are so many elements of myself in her,” Turner-Smith told Interview about her character. . “She goes through this journey of softening, in a way. That callousness that comes from feeling like you have to survive on your own—I really empathized with that.“