Written by Lena Waithe, ‘Beauty’ follows the story of a young girl, named Beauty, who has to navigate the pressure of fame and success along with her secret relationship with a woman named Jasmine. As she steps closer to success, Beauty is forced to reconsider her relationship with Jasmine and has to make some compromises in order to appear more acceptable to her audience. The film presents a realistic portrayal of queer relationships in the 80s and the way people had to closet themselves to not face rejection from the world. The story exhibits many similarities to the life of Whitney Houston, which makes us wonder who Jasmine is inspired by? Is she based on Robyn Crawford? Here’s what you need to know.
Is Jasmine Based on Robyn Crawford?
While there is no official acknowledgment from the filmmakers about the inspiration for ‘Beauty’, it does closely mirror the life of Whitney Houston. So, if Beauty’s life arc is similar to Houston’s, it is easy to draw a similar conclusion about Jasmine’s resemblance to Robyn Crawford’s.
Crawford met Houston when she was 19. Their friendship developed quickly, and not much later, they were in an intimate relationship. The nature of their bond was kept a secret from the world because it would adversely affect Houston’s career. We see something similar happening in ‘Beauty’, where despite moving to New York together and living in the same apartment, Beauty has to keep a distance from Jasmine while in public.
In real life, Houston decided to end things before she signed a contract with Arista Records and embarked on her incredibly illustrious career. “Things suddenly became much more complicated, and she knew that she couldn’t be two places at the same time,” Crawford said, in an interview with Lena Waithe.
This breakup didn’t lead to any hard feelings between the women, as both of them knew they had to put Houston’s career first. “We were a team. We always knew she had a bigger purpose, and we were ready for this. We were fearless, ferocious, intelligent, beautiful, strong, and determined. She had me, I had her. And our eyes never left each other. But I knew my role. I was the number two,” Crawford said.
The nature of the music industry also made Crawford fiercely protective of her friend, and she always made it a point to look out for her. “So my role was: ‘I’ve got to protect her and let her know what’s happening.’ I would get to the next spot on her itinerary 15 minutes ahead of time to get a vibe for the energy in the room so that when she got there, I could tell her what to expect,” said Crawford. The bond between Crawford and Houston was considered so strong by Houston’s ex-husband Bobby Brown that he once admitted that Houston might have had a better life had Crawford stuck around. “I really feel that if Robyn was accepted into Whitney’s life, Whitney would still be alive today,” he said.
In a similar vein, we see Jasmine look out for Beauty at every turn. She warns her about the contract, advising her to get a lawyer and not blindly trust her father. She is ready to be left behind as Beauty moves forward because she knows their relationship would only hold her down. In New York, as well, we see Jasmine as Beauty’s cornerstone. She is always encouraging her and making sure that Beauty doesn’t lose herself in trying to please the world.
To see a character inspired by Crawford in Waithe’s writing does not come as a surprise. The Emmy winner has previously admitted to Crawford being a huge influence in her life. “I grew up watching Whitney Houston on TV, but I would always zero in on you [Crawford]. You’ve got to be special for somebody to look past Whitney Houston and go ‘Who’s that?’,” Waithe said in an interview with her.
Waithe says she saw herself in Crawford. It only makes sense that when she got to writing a story about a queer black artist, she drew from the person who’d had a considerable impact on the way she perceives herself. So, even with the differences between them, it is safe to say that Jasmine is, at least partially, based on Robyn Crawford.
Read More: Where and What Year Does Beauty Take Place?