When I started modelling, I'd raise my arms and it was all muscle and all the other models had nothing. Really, everybody thought I was a man. I don't have to do much to have muscles. It's just genetic.
I loved all those classic figures from the '30s and '40s... Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Humphrey Bogart, Rita Hayworth. They had such glamour and style. I loved the movies of those times too - so much attention paid to details, lights, clothing, the way the studios would develop talent.
More having to do whatever anybody said you had to do. I couldn't really do anything on my own. But as I got older and then came to America and then Grace became my name, it somehow freed me. All of a sudden, I can be this other person.
Listen to my advice; I have some experience. In a way, it is me being a teacher, which is what I wanted to be. I still feel I could go into teaching. What is teaching but passing on your knowledge to those who are at the beginning? Some people are born with that gift.
I always thought that feminine, softer side was just too vulnerable to put out there, because then it's like you're opening up a door for everybody to come in, and you don't know who's going to come in that door.
I was born into a very religious family where everything was about setting the right example for the community and having to obey orders blindly. I felt that everyone was growing up in the world, except me. This is probably one of the reasons why I had such a rebellious attitude towards any form of authority.
My dad's family were political and he was always a theatrical creature, whereas my mum is really musical and her father was the touring pianist with Nat King Cole. My family was an explosive mixture of politics, religion and music - no wonder I turned out how I did.
The problem with the Dorises and the Nicki Minajes and Mileys is that they reach their goal very quickly. There is no long-term vision, and they forget that once you get into that whirlpool, then you have to fight the system that solidifies around you in order to keep being the outsider you claim you represent.
I have been so copied by those people who have made fortunes that people assume I am that rich. But I did things for the excitement, the dare, the fact that it was new, not for the money. And too many times I was the first, not the beneficiary.
Most performers take themselves too seriously. They forget there is a difference between the characters they play on the screen or stage and themselves, but the public doesn't forget there is a difference. They see how silly it is if you try to be the same person all the time.
Even though the agency kept me pretty busy, I auditioned for every play and film I could find. But they all wanted a black American sound, and I just didn't have it. Finally, I got tired of trotting around and took myself to Paris.