Sarah Cooper makes a funny confession in her new memoir, Foolish. “I once said the N-word on stage, and I was asked to stop by a white guy,” she recalls. “Sometimes people even get uncomfortable when I say the phrase, 'the N-word.' I think it's my white energy; it just doesn't come out of the mouth the right way.”
The comedian-actress who went viral by mouthing Donald Trump quotes verbatim during the 2020 election, unabashedly shares more with EBONY about her life, loves and lessons, which includes surviving the “basic bitch” pipeline and whether or not she’ll marry for a third time.
EBONY: The first part of your book is about assimilation, as you were born in Jamaica and moved to the States as a child.
I knew I wanted to write about my family. I came here when I was three and am the youngest of four. Most of my upbringing was about being successful, which meant assimilating. A lot of that chapter is about everything I did to fit in and all the boxes I tried to check: working in tech and having a very basic bitch wedding, which is mortifying. One of the pictures in the book is me and my wedding party jumping on the beach. If you are taking a jumping picture on the beach, please stop. I blacked out everybody's eyes in the picture to make sure that nobody was associated with it.
Ah yes, you talk about suffering from a “basic bitch” syndrome.
I was a victim of the immigrant-to-basic bitch pipeline. And I think that women who are victims of this phenomenon deserve our care and guidance, and I found out that I was a victim of this in a Zumba class at Equinox. They introduced a new part of Zumba called freestyle, and I don't do freestyle. Okay, I grapevine. So when she yelled out freestyle, I started doing the Macarena and was like, “This is bad. I can't even dance. I don't have a personality. I'm in head-to-toe Lululemon. I'm drinking out of a S'well water bottle.” So, to an imaginary support group of Black and brown women who have been victims of this pipeline, there is hope for us. All you have to do is dig deep for your vibe. I always thought I was an introvert; turned out I was a people pleaser who felt oppressed because I kept trying to do what they wanted me to do instead of doing what came naturally and what made me happy. Once I started doing that, I started attracting all these great people into my life.
You also discuss using the “N” word or, more to the point, being unable to use it.
I have a chapter in my book, “Black Enough to be Called It, Not Black Enough to Say It.” I remember being on the subway in New York, and several Black and brown teenage boys sat around me. They were throwing the N-word around, left and right. I took a deep breath and asked, “Can you guys teach me how to say the N-word?” And they said excitedly, “You can say it.” I tried, and they said, “No, you can not say it.” I try in the audiobook if you decide to listen to Foolish.
You've been married twice. Where’s your mind on matrimonial unions?
Well, with the first marriage, I met him in my acting class, and that’s the first red flag: don't marry anybody you meet in an acting class. It felt like a mistake almost immediately and lasted three months. In my second marriage, where I tried to do everything right—the one with the beach picture—I think I was trying to show that I could do this. But that’s when I realized I’d been living with an agenda to prove things to someone else. Living life without an agenda is what I've learned from my marriages from my marriage.
Do you think you’ll marry again?
I don't think I'll ever get married again. I love being independent. I love my alone time a lot. I would love to be in a relationship, maybe with someone who shares my passions and loves, but also their alone time and independence. Until then, I'm just focused on my career.
You don’t hold back when it comes to being vulnerable and transparent on the page. Why was now the right time to be so open about your life?
I’ve written books before, but it’s never been personal. I've written books about looking smart in meetings and being successful without hurting men's feelings, but I never really told where all of that came from. Much of it comes from my daddy issues, which I will fully admit, and this book helped me see very clearly. Hopefully, it will help readers see theirs.
What's your next dream project?
I want to talk to people and find out their stories, to find out how we're different and the same, but do it in a funny way. Because I I love to laugh. I love making people laugh. It's the one thing I know I was placed on this earth to do.
Foolish is available online and in bookstores.