Joan Smalls Covers Elle, January 2014
On newsstands December 17!
New Entry: Lauren London Cover’s Vibe VIXEN
Weigh In! What do y’all think about Beyoncé’s “rumored” GQ [Feb 2013] cover?
Initial Reaction: I think the cover’s pretty amazing. Go, Kendall.
How she survived the tough times: “You realize that those difficult moments, the times when you feel pain, are when you do a lot of your growing.” —Jennifer Lopez
On her breakup with Chris Brown: “It gave me guns. I was like, well, fuck. They know more about me than I want them to know. It’s embarrassing. But that was my opening. That was my liberation, my moment of bring it. […] Now you know that, so you can say what you want about it. I don’t have anything to hide.”
On the backlash over their reconciliation: “The bottom line is that everyone thinks differently. It’s very hard for me to accept, but I get it. People end up wasting their time on the blogs or whatever, ranting away, and that’s all right. Because tomorrow I’m still going to be the same person. I’m still going to do what I want to do.”
The May issue will be on newsstands April 17!
“It’s nice to show the world that we don’t only have to be one thing or categorized in one box. It’s important to show the world—and fashion—that diversity is beautiful,” says Joan Smalls.
Read the cover story!
What’s the first movie you remember seeing?
The Goonies. I never identified with girls, and the cast was all boys. Girls were nervous about going into caves; they were scaredy-cats—and I wasn’t into that at all. I loved the idea of being with a crew and having an adventure. I was really interested in pits full of snakes.
Were you raised to be sort of anti-girly? Somewhat.
We lived in Colorado, and my parents were outdoorsy mountain people. My father would always say, “Go out and don’t come back until you have something to show me.” Which meant he wanted me to come back with a scraped knee or an injury. When I went out to play, I felt like I’d better get hurt.
Did you have Barbies?
I did, but it was always, “Let’s play sex with Barbies!” My Barbies were usually naked. Once, I took their heads off, cut their hair, drew on their short, spiky hair with some markers, then stuck the heads on Christmas lights. Every year, we’d string our tree with those Barbie heads. It looked demonic. My parents were so cool—they saw it as a form of self-expression.
You began acting when you were very young. How did you get started?
When I was 11, I was in a competition sponsored by the International Modeling and Talent Association. You paid a certain amount of money and they taught you to walk a runway, present a comedic monologue, a dramatic monologue, a dance routine, and a song. My runway look was a one-piece bathing suit, a top hat, and a bow tie. The competition was in L.A., and afterward I got a manager and an agent. I tried out for a billion things, and after three years, I was cast on the show 7th Heaven.
That television series, which ran for 11 years, was known for its wholesome, all-American, quasi-religious message. The parents were literally and figuratively blond and blue-eyed. It always seemed to me that, physically, you looked like you belonged in another family.
Looking back I can see that, but at the time I literally didn’t care if I was the wrong race or wrong gender; I wanted that part. I wanted any part. And that show was fun. I was a basketball player who was going through all the stuff that a 14-year-old goes through, which is, as you know, completely psychotic.
Did you rebel in your teens?
I cut my hair supershort and dyed it blonde. I had to apologize to Aaron Spelling [the producer] for doing that. He wasn’t happy. When I turned 17 or 18, a really obnoxious friend sent a stripper to the set. I had to apologize for that too. The show was all about family values, and they took that position seriously. I was always apologizing. Read more.