Body image and weight is a struggle for many women, but when you’re an actress governed by Hollywood’s rigid beauty standards, being outside the norm can not only limit your success, but can do a number on your self-esteem.

In MTV’s new show, This Is How I Made It, the network takes a look at how some of the entertainment industry’s brightest talents achieved their dreams. In an upcoming episode, former Glee standout Amber Riley discusses how she became a household name.

In one poigant scene, Riley explains how being a young, plus size black actress in Hollywood nearly shattered her self-image.

She tearfully recounts:

Hollywood is a very hard place to be in. It really is. Being the person I am, you know, the size I am, being a woman, being a black woman, there’s not a lot of roles for us. After I did St. Sass…I was being offered the girl who sits in the corner and eats all day, the girl who wanted to commit suicide because she was fat. It was never anything that I felt had a good ending. I never wanted to play a character that hated herself. I wanted people to know that those aren’t the only kinds of roles for women like me. Normal girls. 

Going to the auditions and having the casting directors say, ‘I think you need to lose a little weight,’ I couldn’t understand why people couldn’t accept me for who I was and the rejection started wearing on my self-esteem. That’s when my mom and I decided to stop.

…I’m not gonna conform and hurt myself and do something crazy to be a size two. My parents always instilled knowing that you’re beautiful and knowing that you’re fearfully and wonderfully made and no one can tell you who you are. You know who you are. 

I’m a healthy person. I have great friends around me that are positive and I think that’s the key to life is making your own path. Set your own rules because there is no set rule, there is no set look, there is no set anything. You make your own rules in your life. You make your own decisions.

Riley, who recently finished a stint in the Broadway musical Cotton Club Parade, serves as a role model to many young girls who may be struggling to accept themselves. Her advice, “to make your own rules” serves as a wonderful reminder to all women no matter what they look like or field they pursue.

Check out the exclusive clip of Riley on This is How I Made It on the Entertainment Weekly site

  • __A

    @ChillyRoad – I replied to your comment. I don’t know where it went.

    Are you trying to start some of your gender war stuff? I have never supported Shaunie O’Neal. She is not creating positivity for black women. But I am talking about Tyler Perry. They both do it. Are you happy that I’m saying a woman is doing something bad? Anyway those attractive black women are still playing the undesirable black woman role. They may be beautiful, but they had other character flaws that made them undesirable. These are the types of characters that men will complain about left and right.

  • kim

    @Fresh

    How can you be *in shape* and overweight at the same time?

    Stop the madness. It is really not that hard to maintain a healthy weight(for your body type) but people are LAZY and full of excuses

  • Allie

    Explain the relevance?

  • Badu

    Just….stop….bitching.

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