Mariah Carey gets a lot of shit for being a diva (though not from me, as I absolutely love it), but three decades of battling suits for control over one’s own career probably necessitates being very demanding without being overly concerned about how those demands are being perceived.
At Variety’s recent “Power of Women,” lunch, where Carey was being honored for 25 years of Camp Mariah, a nonprofit performing arts camp for children who wouldn’t otherwise have access to summer camp, Carey addressed some of the misogyny and racism she had to put up with on the road to becoming Mimi:
“I was 18 years old when I got my first record deal,” she pointed out. “A lot of very powerful men controlled my career — what I wore, who I worked with, and every aspect of my overall image. Believe me, that can be very intimidating and confining to a young girl just getting started, trying to express herself artistically. It took a lot of hard work, inner strength and believing in myself, but slowly I gained the courage to emerge from that stifling control by a group of men. We love men, but you know, they could never understand or embrace the essence of who I truly am.”
And though she acknowledged that the performing arts camp she attended as a child was “a reprieve from the unsafe and unpredictable environment that I was living in.” it was also the first place she experienced how racist showbusiness can be:
“‘I performed in a production and even got a leading role as Hodel in ‘Fiddler on the Roof’! I was thriving — until the racist choir director saw my black father, and then I never got a leading role at that camp again. But that’s another luncheon,’ she added with a nervous laugh. ‘That’s a whole ‘nother luncheon.’”
Carey thanked all the other honorees, including Chaka Khan, Jennifer Aniston, Awkwafina, Brie Larson, Dana Walden, “and all the women who have come forward with their truths, their harrowing experiences, and above all their triumphs over the misogynistic society of corporate asses that we deal with every day.”