Who’s better equipped to talk diva than Mariah Carey? The “Fantasy” singer graced today’s episode of Meghan Markle’s podcast, Archetypes, for a talk that functioned as a brief etymology of the word diva. (The meaning of the word — from “goddess” in Latin — is the main educational takeaway, along with the reclamation of the term by queer and minoritized communities as a means of self-invention). While Markle, who says she’s wearing a mom dress covered in dog hair, traces the shift from diva’s positive connotation (think VH1’s Divas Live) to its use as a pejorative, she and Carey talk about their experiences growing up as mixed-race people, marriage, and some tragic run-ins with stylists confounded by their hair textures. Carey even goes so far as to say that Markle has “diva moments.” “It stopped me in my tracks … when she called me a diva!” the duchess narrates. “You couldn’t see me, obviously, but I, I started to sweat a little bit,” she says near the end of the episode. For Markle, the term is fraught (hence her making a podcast episode to unpack it). “She meant diva as a compliment,” she continues. “But I heard it as a dig. I heard it as the word diva as I think of it. But in that moment, as she explained to me, she meant it as chic, as aspirational. And how one very charged word can mean something different for each of us — it’s mind-blowing to me.”
Carey obviously isn’t afraid of whatever negative assumptions people have about divas; during the Zoom interview, she admits to wearing the same silk embroidered gown she wore to the BET Awards the previous evening, along with some drip down her neck — canary diamonds, to be exact — paired with bare feet. “I’m still wearing this because I like how it looks and I don’t care,” she tells Markle. Because her mom was an opera singer, Carey says, diva ran in her blood, though for some, that may not be a good thing. “A diva for me, they mean you’re a successful woman usually, but also, and I, forgive me if we’re not allowed to say the B-word, but a B-I-T-C-H,” she explains. “Like it’s not okay for you to be a boss. It’s not okay for you to be a strong woman.” Carey says she “always felt other,” so she “wanted to be that glamorous because I felt like an ugly little girl because I did not fit in with anybody.” “People, people, strive for divadom,” Carey provides as a diva affirmation. “Revel in it!” Wear last night’s gown on Zoom calls!