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Meghan Markle & Mariah Carey Talk Being Branded a ‘Diva’ After Coming From Humble Beginnings

Just two episodes in, Meghan Markle’s new podcast Archetypes is taking the world by storm. Following her inspiring inaugural episode with Serena Williams, this week’s guest is the ultra-glamorous Mariah Carey, and the subject at hand is “the duality of diva” — who better to chat about the complexities of the label than one of society’s most famous divas herself?

Markle and Carey talk about their common ground as mixed women and the isolation they felt as young girls without a place in a society that labels everything. Both were the product of an interracial marriage, which was not common nor widely accepted during their childhoods. Neither was accepted as white or black, and there was very little representation of mixed people at the time. Carey recalls living with her white mother after her parent’s divorce, growing up poor, moving around a lot, and never fitting in no matter where they were living at the time. When musing about what grounded her while dealing with such tumultuous situations at a young age, she explains that her mother was an opera singer, which is what the original meaning of “diva” is associated with, and Carey strived to be as glamorous and fabulous as the women her mother deemed “divas.”

At the time, Carey understood diva to mean successful, strong, powerful, enchanting, a boss. As she’s grown and the word started to be thrown around as more of an insult than a compliment, she’s refused to see the label as anything other than a fierce and fabulous woman who knows and demands exactly what she wants. Realizing her childhood dream of being crowned a diva herself after becoming one of the biggest names in music in the 1990s and a cultural icon in the decades since, Carey shared with Markle, “I am going to own this [label], but it’s also a sign of success based on how you associated it from where you came from.” For Carey, becoming a diva was always the goal, and society wasn’t going to take the empowering connotations away from her to try to tear her down.

In response, Markle mused, “I think there’s something that people find really threatening about a woman who is so secure in who she is, and you go, ‘I don’t care what people have to say about this. This is how I want to turn up.'” Carey agreed, saying, “I grew up going, I’m not this. But I’m going to be this one day and have this one day, and I aspire to be [a diva].”

While Carey has always reveled in her diva-dom, associating the label with talent, success, and aspiration, Markle reflects on her experience shying away from the label when it’s branded on her — even when Carey complimentarily calls her a diva during the episode. Markle shared, “I started to sweat a little bit. I started squirming in my chair in this quiet revolt, like, ‘Wait, what? How could you, that’s not true. That’s not, why would you say that?’ My mind was genuinely just spinning with what nonsense she must have read or clicked on to make her say that… So she must have felt my nervous laughter… And she jumped right in to make sure I was crystal clear when she said ‘diva…” She meant [it] as a compliment, but I heard it as a dig… She meant it as chic, as aspirational.”

Markle mused further, closing the episode with a powerful takeaway: “What I hadn’t considered was that for some, reclaiming the words is what they feel will propel us forward.”

The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey

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Before you go, click here to see more of Meghan Markle & Prince Harry’s milestones since leaving the royal family. 

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