When you’re tapped to play one of the most iconic civil rights leaders in the history of America, you get ready, fast. Such was the case for Meta Golding, a Haitian-American actress who recently lit up the small screen as the unforgettable Rosa Parks. While she portrays a seamstress turned icon in the film, offscreen she’s a beauty enthusiast who loves sunscreen and a good lip gloss.
We recently caught up with the actress to talk makeup, the things she always keeps in her bag, and what beauty means to her.
MDC: Tell me about your role in “Behind The Movement” as the iconic Rosa Parks.
Meta Golding: It takes place over four very intense days — from the day that Rosa Parks decided not to get up out of her seat to the three days it took to organize and mobilize 55,000 people it took to join the Montgomery Bus Boycott. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at the cast of characters and activists in Montgomery who organized this, and it’s also Rosa Parks’ personal journey and the courage it took to become the face of a boycott. The part of her life that I’m playing was before she was an icon. She was just a regular woman who was a seamstress and also an activist. She had no idea that this was going to be as successful as it was. She was just completely convinced in her beliefs and walked the walk. She encouraged the dignity of all human beings. There was [also] a lot of fear going on and she had to really stay focused on what she was fighting for. It’s very, very inspiring to walk in her shoes.
MDC: What did you do to prepare for the role?
Meta Golding: Luckily for me, Mrs. Parks was a prolific writer. So I read all her books. I read as much as I could about her and that period — what it was like to live as a black person in the segregated south in 1955. I don’t think we can fully grasp the terrorism and brutality that was constantly happening against a community of people. She was also a very religious woman, and back then the African American churches were the activists in the community and were always organizing. She gained courage from her faith so I spent a lot of time going to church.
MDC: Rosa Parks rocks an iconic red lip throughout the film. Tell me about it.
MG: That was the only real makeup that we used. There were certain times in the film when it was “dress up time.” When she was in court or it was a special occasion. Makeup wasn’t made for black women back then. But lipstick was. Whenever we needed to up it a little bit, we’d put the red lipstick on.
MDC: What is your favorite product at the moment?
MG: I love everything MAC Cosmetics. I really like these MAC lipsticks that are like a lip gloss but feel like conditioner on your lips. I’m slightly obsessed with them — I even put them on my cheeks for blush. I’m so upset because I use this L’Oréal silky, sheer sunscreen, but it’s being discontinued. I bought a bunch of it online because I really believe in sunscreen. I feel like women of color are like “we don’t crack,” but you have to protect your skin and wear sunscreen. This sunscreen has a silky feel to it, and it’s a little bit tinted so it doesn’t leave any white residue on your skin. It’s so nice. It’s like a primer it feels so good and it gives you a lot of protection.
MDC: Asides from a wallet and a phone, what do you keep in your bag at all times?
MG: My makeup bag. It has my basics, like concealer, lip gloss, a little comb. I always have lipstick on me. I also always have a snack.
MDC: If you weren’t acting, what would you be doing and why?
MG: I love fashion, so something in fashion. When I started off acting I had a side job, a catering business. I’ve always loved food and cooking so it would either be something in the food world or the fashion, beauty world. I think it’s fascinating.
MDC: What does beauty mean to you?
MG: To me, beauty is confidence. Owning yourself on your opinions. I think of Rosa Parks as a beautiful woman, and she is a beautiful woman — but it’s also because she saw the beauty in everyone. And fought for the dignity of everyone. Beauty is about feeling good about yourself, and being confident and self accepting.
photo: Edward McGowan
makeup: Caroline Hernandez
hair: Queen Boone