Published December 20, 2016
Mariah Carey had to look no further than her own experiences with racism to get into character for her latest film role.
In “Lee Daniels' The Butler," Carey plays a woman whose rapist kills her husband right in front of her son's eyes.
The son, Cecil Gaines, was modeled after real-life butler Eugene Allen, who served numerous presidents over his 34-year career in the White House.
This scene is a focal point for the entire film. However, Carey says this gut wrenching scene was not the most difficult one about this role. Rather, it was recreating the 1960 Woolworth's lunch counter sit-in located in North Carolina, where a white woman spit on an African-American college student.
Despite living in a "safe" suburban neighborhood in Long Island, Carey’s mixed raced parents (her mother is Irish American and her father is African American and Venezuelan) meant the singer grew up being acutely aware of race issues.
At the film’s press conference on Monday in New York City, Carey recalled how she was spit on by a fellow student on the school bus because of the color of her skin.
"That actually happened to me," Carey said. "I know people would be in shock and not really want to believe or accept that, but it did.”
“That right there, that was almost the deepest thing to me in the movie because I know what she went through — and it happened to be on a bus, it was a school bus."
While Carey is known for her glamorous image, such frankness about her difficulties growing up as a biracial child is nothing new.
Last year she appeared on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and shared another heartbreaking childhood moment.
"One of the first memories I have is when I was in kindergarten or nursery school and they asked us to draw a picture of our family; and so I was drawing everybody and I got to my father and I started to make him brown. And, they were like, the kindergarten teachers are often young, and the two women were standing behind me giggling. And I turned around, self-conscious, and asked, 'why are your laughing?' And they said, 'you’re doing that wrong. Why are you making your father the wrong color?' And I said, 'No, that’s the color that he is.' They made me feel like something was wrong with me, that it was a bizarre freakish thing."