As “Spider-Man: Homecoming” surpasses the $500 million box-office mark worldwide, veteran actress Garcelle Beauvais is happy to share in that success. Playing any role in a Marvel franchise is a big deal and that’s not lost on Beauvais, who plays Doris Toomes, mother to Spidey love interest Liz, played by model Laura Harrier, and wife of Adrian Toomes/Vulture, handled ably by Michael Keaton, in the movie.
“It means everything to me on so many levels,” she explained via phone. “First of all, Marvel, who does not know Marvel? Who wouldn’t want to be in the Marvel or die to become a part of the franchise? That is really amazing and a dream come true. But the icing on the cake is to be part of a project that my kids are excited about and can actually see. We’ve seen it twice already.”
Beauvais, who turns 51 later this year, is mother to 9-year-old twin boys, Jaid and Jax Nilon, with her second ex-husband. In addition, she has an adult son, Oliver Saunders, 26, from her first marriage. She admitted that her second time around as an older mother has had some advantages. “I’m a little bit more patient,” she shared. “I think I do a lot more quality time with them because I can.”
Being a firm believer in “family first” has not derailed her career in the least. In fact, it has helped it. Beauvais, who started her career as a successful model, actually gravitated towards acting after having her son Oliver and “not wanting to raise him in New York.” Although acting seems like a natural progression from modeling today, back in the 1980s, that was very much not the case.
“When I started in the industry as an actor, people thought, ‘Models — can they walk and talk at the same time?’ so I had to prove myself,” she recalled. “It’s okay now to have both worlds come together.”
Beauvais’s successful 30-plus-year acting career has included such memorable roles as Fancy, Jamie Foxx’s co-worker/dream girl in “The Jamie Foxx Show” and Valerie Heywood, the assistant district attorney and love interest of Henry Simmons’ Det. Baldwin Jones on the ABC crime drama, “NYPD Blue.” She was super-lawyer Hanna Linden on “Franklin & Bash” and, most recently, has played the roles of Lady Underground and Henrietta on SyFy’s “The Magicians” and NBC’s “Grimm,” respectively. In addition, Beauvais was a talk show co-host for “Hollywood Live Today.”
Earlier this year, Beauvais announced she was focusing her attention behind the camera with the formation of Beauvais Wilson Productions with successful television producer Lisa L. Wilson, who produced Beauvais on “Hollywood Live Today.”
“I think nowadays, for women, the doors are wide open because of the Ava DuVernays and the Reese Witherspoons and, of course, Oprah,” Beauvais said, explaining her recent moves. “I think it’s a time when we can come out there and be in front of the camera, behind the camera. Really, it’s an exciting time.”
For her first production, the short film “Lalo’s House” about the sex trafficking of young girls, Beauvais isn’t playing it safe and even uncharacteristically plays a villain. “We really wanted to come out of the gate with something strong that could get people talking and, if we could help save a child, that obviously is the goal of starting a conversation,” she explained.
The film, which was shot in her native Haiti, also took her back to her roots, which she continues to celebrate to this day. “Whenever I post a picture from Haiti, I always get comments like ‘Thank you for showing the beauty that we don’t get to see from CNN’ because we only see Haiti because something tragic has happened,” she said. Despite growing up largely in Miami, Beauvais has always lifted Haiti up.
“I was always proud of where I’m from because I think that’s what makes me me and I was never told to hide it or be afraid of it,” she explained. “When I came to the United States, when [a lot of people] thought of Haiti, they thought of AIDS. And, see, that was never my experience. So, I was always proud to say that I was Haitian and I think I’ve been able to carry that flag because of it, because I never shied away from it.”
Following her heart is another thing Beauvais has never shied away from. When asked if Beauvais, who married Hollywood agent Mike Nilon in 2001 before finalizing her divorce in 2011, ever experienced the backlash Serena Williams is dealing with now for loving interracially, she responded, “Of course, I did. Of course, I did. My ex-husband is white Irish and my kids are half-white.”
Such negativity perplexes Beauvais. “In this day and age, I am still shocked and surprised and annoyed that people care about that. I think it’s so hard to find somebody that you connect with and that you love. People are still judging that. We’ve come so far. I don’t understand that.”
Beauvais does believe that film and television can help more people accept other people’s freedom to love. “Look at the diversity that Marvel put into “Spider-Man.” I think you’re starting to see different relationships like myself and Michael Keaton in the movie. Now, you watch commercials and you see interracial couples.
“So, I think we’ve definitely come a long way and the more I guess people see it, the more they will accept it. But, it shouldn’t be against [loving] your own race.”
Like Williams, Beauvais never dated exclusively interracial. Her first husband, her oldest son’s father, is Black. When it’s come to matters of heart, she said, “It’s not a black-and-white thing. It was just a two-different-men thing. I don’t think that color had anything to do with the relationships, honestly.”
Throughout the ups and downs of marriage and divorce, work has remained steady. “I’m still in awe of the fact that work has been really great and I love what I do,” she said. “I’m forever grateful, forever grateful of what I’ve been able to accomplish.”
“Spider-Man: Homecoming” is in theaters now.