There are plenty of roles for every shape and size available in Hollywood. Because the world is made up of a wide array of personalities and looks, so are the fantastical worlds the industry works hard to portray. However, that doesn’t mean fitting into this world is easy. According to Black-ish star Liz Jenkins, finding a name for yourself takes hard work regardless of what you look like and she has had to find her niche as a Black, plus-sized female.
“Most of the time, a plus-size character’s weight is just the punchline, not an attribute she embraces,” the actress said. “I’m lucky to play Ms. Biggs on Black-ish and she was written from the beginning as inherently body positive. She accepts her body as it is and doesn’t take body shaming from anyone.”
However, Jenkins added roles like this can be hard to come by. “Sadly, parts like this don’t come along often. As a matter of fact, I co-wrote and co-starred in my own web series, Werk, in order to show the world that plus-size women can be funny without their weight being the joke. It is also important to have representation that sees you beyond your size. They have to know what you are capable of and think outside the box to advocate on your behalf.”
Jenkins noted that costume fittings can be hard to navigate, recounting, “I have often shown up to a fitting, took one look at the clothes hanging there, and known with absolute certainty that they wouldn’t fit my body.” However, she adds, “Luckily, I have had some lovely life-changing costume fittings. When I show up for Black-ish, they have clothing from designer brands that I only dream of being able to afford. I leave feeling like a runway model.”
Above all, Jenkins said, “No one knows my body more than me. I should be able to educate anyone who may not know how to dress my body, speak of my body, and defend my body when needed. I realized that I have to approach my auditions and fittings with the same confidence that I try to walk around with every day. I know what it is like to be a Black woman and a plus-size woman, and I’m not ashamed of either.”
Jenkins offers some life-changing advice for anyone trying to get their start. “While the industry is only just beginning to be more size inclusive, we have to take it upon ourselves to be diligent about self-love and self-care. Not everyone has caught up yet, so you have every right to speak up and make your voice heard.”