Gabrielle Simpson, Dir. of Communications, NBC Universal

My name is Gabrielle Simpson and I’m 29 years old. I’m the Director of Communications for NBCUniversal, where I lead diversity communications, internally and externally. I’m responsible for conveying the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

I’m Black. I classify myself black. My mother is biracial. My mother’s mother was Russian and German. My mother’s father, my grandfather, was West Indian. We don’t know from where, but he was West Indian. My dad’s mother was Cherokee Indian, Irish and French Canadian. My dad’s father was black. He used to say his people were from the Congo.

My grandfather had uniquely very dark skin and blue eyes. It used to trip people out. So both my grandfathers are Black. Both of my parents consider themselves absolutely Black.

My mother and I are pretty much the same complexion. If she’s asked [about her background], my mother will say, “Oh, my mother’s white but I’m black.”

I think because my mother was born in 1960, and grew up in Los Angeles, even though there were other biracial mixed kids and couples; there still weren’t a lot. So when the world looked at her, because of her hair texture, her full lips ,and her nose, they saw a black woman. That’s what she embraced.

I grew up in Los Angeles, California.

Gabrielle 1

Assuming because I have lighter skin, sometimes people in L.A. would ask, “Oh, are you mixed?” Or, “What are you mixed with?” I’ve had a lot of people comment on the texture of my hair, because growing up in California, typically people with lighter skin and/or silkier hair, are perceived as beautiful.

 

But my hair isn’t that “preferred” texture, so sometimes people would say, “Oh, do you want to get a relaxer or do you want to get a perm to make your hair curly so that your hair matches?”

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My mother never, ever wore makeup. So I never saw the need to wear makeup. In high school, my friends started wearing makeup and I actually felt behind the loop because I didn’t know what to do. My mother’ was like, “Girl, I can’t help you!”

Luckily, one of my cousin’s stepmother worked at MAC, and she gave me free samples, so early on I was wearing MAC makeup. In high school, I would always put on eyeliner and mascara and a little bit of bronzer. I just love the way that bronzer looks and I feel that naturally, sometimes I may look pale. I feel like when I put bronzer on it kind of wakes me up.

I use Neutrogena to wash my face but mostly Lancôme products. I’ll also use the Lancôme lotion and toner after cleaning. I try to do a full on facial at least once a month. I like Bellini’s Spa in White Plains, where I live.

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I feel when I am in the limelight or a place of recognition at work, whether I’m leading a conference or leading a presentation or a meeting, all eyes are on me. As a black woman, I take pride in looking my best. There may not be many black women in my role at my age, and I feel like I want to represent to the best of my ability.

Right now, Black Girl Magic is everything. What I think we could do in a more engaging way is help other people who aren’t black, truly understand what Black Girl Magic means.

 

I think for outsiders, who may just -see the hashtag, or they hear someone use the saying, they may not understand what it means to us and they may have a negative connotation associated with it.

 

To me, Black Girl Magic is embracing your blackness, knowing that you can do all things and knowing that you’re powerful. It’s women empowerment. It’s black empowerment. That’s something that we need in our community.

 

Every black girl, regardless of her skin tone, regardless of her hair texture, because she’s black, she is beautiful. Every woman, because of who they are, they are beautiful.