Alisha Boe says She Looked Different From Her Friends and Didn’t Feel ”Beautiful” Growing Up
The ’13 Reasons Why’ star moved to a ”really white neighbourhood” in Los Angeles when she was seven, and has said living in an area where she was the only person of colour stopped her from feeling ”comfortable” in her own skin.
She said: ”[At aged seven], I moved to this really white neighbourhood [in Los Angeles] and identity for me was a very fickle thing. I don’t think I found my true identity or was comfortable in my true skin until I moved away from that neighbourhood.
”I didn’t have anyone to identify with. I didn’t feel like my hair was beautiful. I always wanted to straighten it because all my white friends had straight hair. And then I had to deal with the boys in my school and everyone making offhand racist remarks, where they’re like, ‘You’re pretty for a black girl.’ Then, of course, you start rationalising, like, ‘Oh, they don’t think people who are black are pretty, but I’m the exception because I have caucasian features.’ ”
Alisha, 23, eventually learned about the ”beauty” of her culture as an African woman, and says discovering her worth has been a ”constant learning experience”.
The actress – who was born in Norway to a Somali father and a Norwegian mother – added: ”It was this whole process of unlearning so many things and then finding people who are similar to me and learning more about my culture as an African woman, learning about the beauty of it. If you’re a minority growing up in a place where nobody looks like you, there are so many cultural differences that you have to teach yourself, which is hard; it’s a constant learning experience.”
And now, Alisha says she’s pleased she can be a role model to other girls, as she didn’t have anyone to look up to when she was younger.
Speaking to British Vogue, she said: ”The one thing that’s been very positive for me with ’13 Reasons Why’ is having young girls who have similar features to me DM me or send me letters or stop me in the street and express their gratitude for being able to see someone like me blended in this primarily white high school, and being seen as a cool girl or a popular girl or a pretty girl or a girl that’s not afraid to use her voice and voice her opinions.”