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

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  • Robbie

    I have to agree with some of the comments above. Like I said in an earlier comment, it is nice to see her surrounded by friends and family that keep her positive and motivated. At the same time, she choose to be in a field that judges women on their looks. Like most of us, she cannot fully say that she was clueless about the way Hollywood treats actresses that don’t fit their standards of beauty.

    It is nice to see her trying to open doors for the thick brown girls of her generation and the next one to come, but at the same time, she knows that she has to be realistic. White and Green are what’s running Hollywood. It is hard for me to fully feel for her. Hopefully she goes the Tyler Perry’s way and chooses to produce and direct. There is also big money there to make. Wish her nothing but the best.

  • Robbie

    My comment was not posted Clutch. What is wrong? I do think twice before commenting and, here I am again, with a non existing comment that I took the time to type.

    • LOLL!!!

      This is clutch. You should be use to that by now…

  • jourdan

    I applaud any woman that tries to stay healthy by eating right & exercising no matter what size they are! I know heavier women who DO exercise and have awesome diets. I also know super skinny women who have poor eating and exercise habits. Idk what Amber Riley is doing for her health in particular but I’m glad that she isn’t conforming to the media’s idea that big girls should hate themselves!