What do multihyphenates Teyana Taylor and Ruth Negga have in common? Aside from both being well known and extremely talented black women, it would seem not much ... except the two were both raised as only children, both worked at their crafts for decades before making a major breakthrough, and each is a style icon in her own unique way—Taylor as a beauty and fitness entrepreneur and Negga as a current ambassador for Louis Vuitton.
Oh, and both cover 2018 September issues; Negga modeling the latest LV for Marie Claire UK’s Fall Fashion Issue, and Taylor showing off her always bikini-ready body atop Playboy’s September/October issue.
But if it seems the similarities stop there, that’s absolutely fine, since as the myriad other September issues featuring black women this year have shown, the breadth of black womanhood is wide—especially when given equal representation. And if this season has proved nothing else, it’s that representation is a very beautiful thing.
“I mean, if you’re a brown woman, it doesn’t mean you have the same thoughts as another brown woman,” Negga tells Marie Claire UK. “Of course it doesn’t! It’s damaging and diminishing. We have to ask different questions.”
Negga, who was also nominated for an Academy Award for her role as Mildred Loving in 2016's biopic Loving (and was recently revealed to be cast in the upcoming adaptation of the Harlem Renaissance novella Passing), is also frustrated with the conversation around inclusion and diversity in Hollywood.
“People go, great, that’s all sorted, and it drives me fucking mad,” she says, referring to the recent success of more diverse talent and narratives. “This is a continuing conversation. We have to move forward with the questions we ask and evolve with our society.”
And Negga, who ironically claims to be very shy offscreen, is also clear on the fact that what’s for her is for her:
“I don’t have any desire to be anything or [play] anybody,” she tells Marie Claire. “Genuinely, I just want to work, but if I feel a role’s for me, it won’t pass me by.”
For Taylor, who was interviewed just prior to the June release of her long-delayed sophomore effort K.T.S.E. (Keep That Same Energy), her career has been an exercise in patience. After numerous false starts—beginning as early as her teens—she’s long been open about the frustration of having her career on hold for years, about which she spoke candidly with Playboy:
Everybody knows, as far as the music side, it’s been a long journey for me—which it has been for any person who’s great in the industry. I definitely feel overwhelmed sometimes because I’m doing so much to occupy my mind from the things that are not quite happening the way I want or need them to happen ... The other 100 things that I do are just until it comes to fruition. ...
Once this music is out, I might really consider that I’ve done damn near everything I’ve ever wanted to do.
According to Playboy, K.T.S.E. was far from the release Taylor had planned—as was her subsequent much-anticipated tour with singer-songwriter Jeremih, which she dropped out of on Wednesday after claims of “disrespect” from her touring partner.
As Taylor told Playboy months ago, after all the years she’s waited for her moment, she’s not going to shrink herself to fit anyone else’s demands—or weather their disrespect:
I’m going to have self-respect. I’m going to be a strong woman all across the board whether you like it or not. Maybe that’s why it took me so long to get where I wanted to be. I was never willing to be what someone else wanted. Hey, if we don’t bust it wide open, there ain’t gonna be no you! So put some respect on that capital W in Woman. Wo-man.
Speaking with Marie Claire UK, Negga agrees that the power of womanhood is an indomitable force—especially at this moment in time:
You can’t hold the tide [of what’s happening with women in the industry] back with a broomstick. ... The industry’s been using the excuse of the dollar with women for years, but it was never about the dollar. It was about power. That cold, dead hand that wouldn’t let go.
That’s changing now.