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You may not recall Desreta Jackson’s name off the top of your head but we’re certain you’ll recognize her face as a young Celie in the 1985 critically-acclaimed film, The Color Purple. After that iconic role, audiences didn’t see much of Jackson on the big or small screen, which is a shame considering her triumphant story. According to The Grio, who recently sat down with Jackson to mark the 30th anniversary of the movie, at just 9 years old, Jackson and her pregnant mother moved to Los Angeles from the West Indies. Living on Skid Row for a year because her mother couldn’t find work, Jackson eventually began taking acting classes after enrolling in elementary school and jut a few weeks later she landed the memorable part.

But entering Hollywood wasn’t without it’s on struggles, namely the issue of colorism. Jackson told the site:

“To be very honest I had to leave Hollywood because as a young child it didn’t seem to flourish [in] my mind very well. Coming here from the islands, I didn’t even know that I was dark-skinned, there wasn’t a color issue in my head. I always thought I was beautiful. It wasn’t until I got in Hollywood that I started understanding there were dark-skinned blacks and light-skinned blacks and there were roles for this character and roles for that character based on a color. I left Hollywood and in the process of leaving it, it helped develop myself into a woman.”

A successful woman at that. Today, Jackson spends her days as CEO of her own haircare line, BlackSilk Products, born out a desire to style her daughter’s hair without harsh chemicals. She’s also planning to release her first book, The Black Hair Conspiracy: A Guide to Grow and Care for Natural Hair, in February 2016. Hats off to her for kissing colorist Hollywood goodbye.

 

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