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Niecy Nash and Jessica Betts are the 1st same-sex couple on the cover of Essence

Niecy Nash and Jessica Betts are the first same-sex couple to be featured on the cover of <em>Essence</em>.
Emma McIntyre
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Niecy Nash and Jessica Betts are the first same-sex couple to be featured on the cover of Essence.

Niecy Nash and her wife, singer Jessica Betts, are making herstory.

The duo were featured on the cover of the latest edition of Essence — the first same-sex couple to do so.

The award-winning actress and television host shared the cover of the magazine's March/April 2022 "Black Women in Hollywood" issue on Instagram, the couple embracing each other.

"Making H E R S T O R Y," wrote Nash, whose real name is Carol Denise Betts. "Thank you @essence for choosing The Betts as your FIRST same-sex couple to cover (your) magazine!"

In a second post, Nash shared a video featuring a series of clips of the couple from the photoshoot.

Essence has been an influence for African-American women since its first publication in May 1970. The monthly lifestyle magazine covers fashion, beauty, entertainment and culture. In a news release, the magazine described the issue featuring Nash and Betts as "honoring breakthrough moments of even more Black women in every area of their lives."

In the interview with Essence, the couple opened up about their love story and how their relationship blossomed into marriage.

"The least of my attraction is gender," Nash told Essence.

"What I was and am still attracted to is Jessica's soul. She was the most beautiful soul I had ever met in my life. Now that I've experienced it, I can't imagine going through life without it," she said.

The actress wants changes in the entertainment industry

In an interview earlier this week with NPR's The Limits with Jay Williams, Nash discussed her early days in Hollywood. She also explored the deeper reasons as to why the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which presents the Oscars, so often overlooks Black women.

"I think that there are strides being made, you know, welcoming, you know, people of color into the academy and, you know, trying to figure out these diversity initiatives," Nash said.

"You know, we're on the path. But is it going to be remedied in our lifetime? It will not. But will we make strides towards it? Indeed. I believe that for a fact. But it's going to take a long time to undo, you know, 400 plus years of being oppressed."

Nash's fans didn't know she was with Betts until they were married

When the actress announced her marriage to Betts in 2020, it caught fans by surprise. Nash told Essence that the public's initial reaction caught her off guard.

"A lot of people thought it was like a movie or some promo," Nash said. "They started calling everybody, and we were like, 'This is insane.' I never knew why where you lay your head is such a big deal to other people. I was like, 'People care?'"

Betts and Nash met on social media, according to the actress. Nash was previously married to Don Nash and Jay Tucker. This is the first marriage for Betts.

Last year, Nash served as the host of the GLAAD Media Awards. She starred in the crime comedy-drama "Claws," which ended this month, and will play Glenda Cleveland in "Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story" on Netflix.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jonathan Franklin
Jonathan Franklin is a digital reporter on the News desk covering general assignment and breaking national news.