Saweetie is doing it all these days. The star, who is best known for being a rapper, is also becoming a social media star, or the unofficial “Content Queen” with her creative posts. She’s also something of a YouTube personality thanks to her docuseries The Icy Life. In addition to that, the beauty is breaking into acting, making her silver screen debut on Grownish. She plays a controlling pop star named Indigo who keeps Yara Shahidi’s Zoey on her toes when she gets her big break as a stylist. And though her character is domineering, in real life, Saweetie is anything but that. She’s quick to laugh and talk with you like an old girlfriend, as she did during our Zoom chat. It makes sense that so many doors are opening for her, as the 27-year-old’s fun personality has won her a new legion of fans who may have previously been skeptical that she was just the pretty girl rapping over sampled beats.
We talked to Saweetie about getting bit by the acting bug. We also conversed about her viral moments, her fine parents, why she’ll never stop sampling songs, and the importance of showing a different side of herself on her records and now, on screen.
MadameNoire: Tell me about your character Indigo. From the clips that I’ve seen, she seems a little bossy. Are you anything like her?
Saweetie: You know what? I’m bossy, but I’m not mean. It took every bone in my body to try and be mean to Yara because she’s just so sweet and cute and like a little sister to me. But I think that’s the point of a role, to take you out of what you normally act like. So definitely not like Indigo [laughs].
When this opportunity came about, did you think about reaching out to your cousin, Gabrielle Union, for some acting tips? I know you have said though that you want to go about your career your own way.
Honestly, it happened so quick. I think I came to set five days after the offer. I accepted pretty quick. So I didn’t have the opportunity or the chance to reach out to her. But definitely for a bigger role after Indigo, because I know it’s going to open up so many more doors, I will definitely be reaching out for some advice.
Speaking of acting, what kind of shows and movies have you been binge-watching that people would be surprised to find out about?
So two things: My favorite show is Queen’s Gambit. Girl, I watched that in one day. But when it comes to people being surprised, I love seeing people catch seafood and coming home and making it into seafood.
That’s what you watch on YouTube?!
Yes! It’s just — I love sushi. I’m like, how the hell do y’all have me eating raw fish? I have to see them prepare it.
I have to check that out. I did ask you about your cousin, but I have to also ask you about your parents. You have gorgeous parents! And the Internet I know tells you that all the time. How do you deal with people, for instance, swooning over your dad?
Um…you know what? They’ve been swooning over my dad since I was in middle school. So it’s no surprise. It’s just a bigger impact because it’s on social media. Every time I post him he goes viral on his own. He’s like his own little mini superstar.
And also your mom, she’s been in some huge music videos in hip-hop music. When you were growing up, what was that like to have a hot mom who was in music videos and who got to perform with these big stars?
She was very strict. So even though I was able to watch her be sexy, be fly, and just grown, she made it very clear that I wasn’t grown and that I would be no time soon wearing what she was wearing or listening to the music if it was explicit. So she was always a Barbie doll to me, but she made it very clear that I was a kid and I wouldn’t be doing what she was doing for a very long time.
So how is it now that she watches you dress and be sexy in the spotlight? I saw on your Icy Life show she asked you ‘What you got on?’ What is it like to have the script flipped?
For her, she’s just really excited because she wanted to be an actress. She had it hard just hustling and trying to balance all these jobs while trying to pursue her career. I just feel like she’s super proud of me. So I’m happy that I’m making her happy.
You just dropped your video “Best Friend” with Doja Cat and you have your album Pretty B—h Music coming out soon. What can people expect from that? From those singles, it sounds like you’ve moved away from using samples, which people used to give you a hard time about.
Oh girl I ain’t move away from them! They on Pretty B—h Music now. I’m a sample for the rest of my life! I don’t think it’s a matter of me moving away, I think it’s just an opportunity to share other tracks that I really love. But I’m just a student and I’m a lover of music so I love to flip other hits and make it my hit. But it is a joy to show people that I do have original songs because I work really hard on concepts and relaying these messages that I feel the world needs to hear.
What roles do you see yourself taking on in the future?
I wanna be a supervillain. Like a Mystique. A good one though! She means good but she does bad stuff to make good things happen. Yeah girl, so hopefully, DC call me! Or Marvel, call me!
There was a whole debate you started inadvertently about men gifting women Birkin bags. There has been a conversation for a few months about them and who owns them. There is an elitist view that only certain people wore it before and now some take issue with rappers owning them. What do you say to that? I know you have many.
I think a Birkin is symbolic. A Birkin is a gift. A Birkin is to show your woman, your wife, your lover, your partner, your situation, that you appreciate her. I feel like women are magical, they deserve gifts and they deserve to be pampered. We are peace, we give you the most special thing in the world if you know what I mean. So a Birkin is a gift. It’s symbolic. And beyond a Birkin or a gift, women deserve loyalty, they deserve respect, they deserve honesty.
I think it was just me having fun and the world taking and grabbing and screen recording that moment and making it something it wasn’t because I was honestly just having fun and promoting my single [“Back to the Streets”].
Lastly, I wanted to ask you about the interview with your friend Too $hort. He talked about the Bay Area’s influence on his desire to be in interracial relationships. You made a point to tell him, Black women, whether mixed with anything or not, are beautiful. Why was it important, and he is your friend, to bring that point home and remind him of that in that moment?
A lot of amazing women in my family are only Black women. My dad’s side: my aunties, my grandmas, my cousins. Even on my mom’s side, but since we’re focusing on Black women, those Black women raised me. They were my village, they were my role models, they were my idols. So it’s like, they taught me what beauty was. How would I be a bad b—h, how would I be confident without these women?
I’m a chameleon and in high school, a lot of people thought that I was just a Black girl. That don’t bother me. But what bothers me is when people of other ethnicities are coming up to me and they’re like, “You’re really pretty for a Black girl.” It’s like, “What? What do you mean ‘for a Black girl?'” Or sometimes they would ask me, “What are you mixed with?” I would think it’s a casual question. I would say Asian and they would say, “Oh that’s why you’re pretty.” Not only is it disrespectful to me, it’s disrespectful to the women who I love, who I idolize, who I admire. Beauty doesn’t come from ethnicity, beauty is just beauty. And if we’re talking about beauty, the reason I’m calling Pretty B—h Music, Pretty B—h Music is because the meaning of pretty needs to change. I didn’t grow up in LA. I went to school in LA. I’ve been able to experience a lot of bad b—hes. A lot of them are ugly because their personalities suck. For real! So for me, if we’re even going beyond face value, being pretty is your energy, your aura, and how you treat people. So for all these things, for me, that make someone pretty, how dare you discredit whatever you thought about me because I’m this or I’m not that. I didn’t like that. I feel it’s a low blow and I believe Black women deserve to be respected.
The midseason debut of Season 3 premieres on THURSDAY, JAN. 21, at 8:00 p.m. EST/PST on Freeform.