By Lori Simmons Zelenko
Her favorite role though is being a Mom and right now, she’s riding high in her kids’ esteem with her upcoming part in “Spider-Man: Homecoming”
Look hard. No, look really hard at Garcelle. ‘Know what? Can’t find a flaw. She’s warm, funny, caring – and beautiful too…a great mom who’s earned newfound esteem from her sons (9 year old twins, Jax and Jaid, and a 26 year old, Oliver) for her upcoming role in the sure to be blockbuster, “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” Before this role, she says with a laugh her kids were unimpressed. A talented actress who wins hearts by winning minds, Haitian-born Garcelle Beauvais, though we know her simply as Garcelle, has a mission planned: she is shortly going back to Haiti this time with her young sons, laden with what the children there will need and want. She is heading to her homeland to encourage the children of this Island devastated by poverty and natural disasters, to offer the young people of Haiti joy, hope and promise and, also, to teach her young sons the meaning of giving, of taking action to help others.
Some may remember Garcelle early on as the gorgeous young model in Aaron Spelling’s “Models, Inc.” a TV hit some time ago that remains a cult favorite. However, her turning point, she reveals, came after she co-starred on the Jamie Foxx Show, a WB sitcom. The show took off, booked for 13 episodes it stayed on the air for 100 (five years), but when it ended, despite feeling like she was never going to work again, she stayed hopeful waiting for a break. And indeed, she got one, an audition for “NYPD Blue.” As different from the Jamie Foxx Show as she could have imagined, “NYPD Blue” was “by the book,” the script was written in stone, it was the “Bible,” not a word could be changed; a huge contrast to the free, improv-like climate of working with Jamie Foxx. Her “NYPD Blue” character was written in for one episode but stayed for four seasons, and with that experience she learned that comedy was not her only forte. She proved to herself that she could succeed as well as a dramatic actress.
With validation like this, she went forth unafraid. Film, TV…Opportunities followed that have made her a familiar face to millions, in fact she is currently a host on the hit FOX-TV entertainment news show, “Hollywood Today Live!” But no matter her success, no matter if our perception of her is sheer perfection, she doesn’t pat herself on the back; she is, she says “a work in progress.”
She’s funny in a down to earth way, telling the story of how she took her kids to see “Captain America”; they loved the action, the superheroes. The Spider-Man character got their attention, they thought his new incarnation was great. So when her agent called a few weeks later to say she’d been offered a part in the new Spider-Man movie – and no details forthcoming due to Marvel’s secrecy – she thought it was a practical joke. Actually it turned out not to be a prank. Come July all secrets will be revealed when “Spider-Man Homecoming” premieres. And yes, secrecy still rules as she can’t breathe a word of the script, the character or the plot. But if winning the role, before the film’s theatrical release, has done one thing for her that’s worth its weight in Oscar Gold: her kids were fine with her missing their first day of school this past Fall.
It’s almost a little scary she says how tech savvy kids are today…her kids are, of course, comparative geniuses in the category. Any over 30-something is likely to agree with that observation of the youngest generation, after all they’ve been tech-aware since day 1. She’s a single mom and proud of it. She lives her life with her kids, not for them, not through them. She loves them and they do come first most of the time but not to the point she’s obliterating her own life so they can have theirs.
She loves to cook, for friends, for a dinner party, for a family gathering but what are her most prepared dishes? Kid Food. She jokes that she feels like a short order cook, grilling up burgers, serving mac and cheese for her younger ones. There’s no stand in for this mom. She’s at an audition, a rehearsal, a meeting, a shoot and when it’s time to get them after a baseball game, the high heels come off and she puts on the pair of flats in the car. “It’s all a balancing act,” she says with wry humor when asked if she’s a jeans and sneakers kind of gal or high heels and perfume, admitting to both with pride.
After all she balances being a world-renowned star of Film and TV with being a mom – and an author too, not of a Jackie Collins-type memoir as one might expect from a woman with her extraordinary beauty and star-studded past but of kids’ books conveying authentic messages about children’s sense of identity today. She doesn’t plan another in the “I AM” series but she does look to the future and think that she’d like to see her books animated, a project she hasn’t quite gotten to yet.
Being a mom of three boys gives her plenty of opportunity to teach her children well (to grab the phrase from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, a message that is still relevant even if the song came out originally in 1970). Respect for women is paramount she communicates emphatically. Speaking of her commitment to “come from gratitude,” she emphasizes that she makes the effort to teach her boys to grow up to be caring men. On the days when her younger kids are just a bit too entitled for their own good, she asks them to write down three things they are grateful for, just to remind them not to take their life for granted.
“The message of kindness is incredibly important,” Garcelle says referring the loss of tenderness and abandonment of courtship happening today thanks to apps like Tinder and OK Cupid. Plus there is the blurring of gender boundaries, making sexual identity more flexible than ever before. In this changing landscape, one thing is for certain: “My kids come first, always. But I have to make a living…so I juggle like any working mom.” Living in Los Angeles in the Hills, her home is a refuge, a sanctuary of sorts where she can walk the family dog (a rescue called Bear, he’s part Lhasa Apso and part Yorkie) or have a casual BBQ outside no matter what the time of year.
Down time is precious and she treasures it, taking a long bath, lighting candles, playing some good music or just staying still, no tech, no phones just time for a personal recharge. Humorously she recalls her nephew who lost his phone at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Rather than panic and go through tech withdrawal as she thinks her kids would have immediately done, he stayed cool hanging in there 48 hours without breaking a sweat, unhurried to reconnect to the world through technology.
Fitness is a vital part of her life: Pilates is her preference but she’s newly discovered a 29 minute vibrating therapy to tone and firm, but being a mom first and a movie star second doesn’t always leave her time for an extended workout. So, on the days when a trip to the gym is out of the question, a walk around the neighborhood with the dog has to do. Beauty of course is a ritual never skipped; from moisturizing her skin daily to looking to a laser to turn back time, it’s all in genes with a little help from “friends” in modern technology….there’s no question about it, though her luminous beauty – with kindness and compassion shining from within – defies the years.
Garcelle’s feature film credits are many, but none make her prouder at the moment than “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” She has starred with actors including Denzel Washington, Channing Tatum, Josh Brolin, Chris Rock, Anthony Hopkins, Donald Sutherland and Forrest Whittaker in an exceptional roster of movies over the years and made a short film about Haiti, “Eyes To See,” inspired by the writer/director’s relief efforts immediately following the earthquake. She finds time too to work with Step Up Network which lets her empower the next generation of women to “step up” and take charge of their lives with vision and direction. Empowerment is a message Garcelle very much wants all to grasp…empowering moms to juggle work and family, empowering kids to learn how to empower others through their consideration, empowering men (of any age) to better understand women, and empowering women to overcome whatever odds they may face to seek happiness and success. Can’t find a flaw in such a mantra, but as Garcelle says she is a “work in progress” so let’s stay tuned for the next chapter.