01/21/2014 09:58 am ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

Tika Sumpter, Actress On 'The Haves and the Have Nots,' Talks About Loving Her Dark Skin (VIDEO)

When Tyler Perry cast Tika Sumpter as the cunning vixen, Candace Young, in the OWN drama "The Haves and the Have Nots," he purposefully chose an intelligent, gorgeous, dark-skinned actress. During an "Oprah's Lifeclass" discussion on colorism -- the prejudices people face based on their skin color -- Sumpter Skyped in to discuss how her dark skin impacted her self-perception growing up.

"I grew up in a household with five siblings at the time, all lighter than me -- way lighter than me," Sumpter says. "My mother's lighter than me, but she never made me feel inadequate or less than any of my siblings."

"Actually, my mother tells me this story all the time about when I was born," she says. "My father has dark skin, and when I came out, he's like, 'Finally, someone who looks like me!'"

That positive mindset continued as Sumpter attended school and eventually started her acting career. "I never felt like, 'Wow, the light-skinned girl -- she's going to get all the boys.'" she says. "Growing up I thought, 'Yeah, of course I'm cute! Of course I'm going to be the first black cheerleader at my high school. Of course I'm going to be the president of my class three years in a row.'"

"I was never made to feel less than, and it starts at home," Sumpter says. " It really does."

"Oprah's Lifeclass" airs on OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network.



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