Raven Symone has always been extremely private about her personal life, but now, she's opening up in a rare interview about her sexuality.
The "Cosby Show" star recently came out as gay and revealed to Oprah Winfrey that she was in a relationship with a woman. The actress is getting even more candid about how she decided to share her secret with fans.
"I had friends that I experimented with, but never went far, because I knew that this can't be talked about," she reveals in a new episode of L/Studio's "It Got Better." "I kind of pushed myself to open myself up to boys in more than an 'Oh my god' way. I look back now and am like, 'Whoa, you liked girls. You liked 'em.'"
"I didn't want to tell my parents because I didn't," she adds. "I knew I couldn't say it out loud because 'Oh my god, little Olivia's gay? This is crazy!' I had the number one show on Disney, I had multiple albums, I had been on tour with N'Sync. People have bucket lists -- my bucket list was finished at 18. I didn't want to deal with that, and I didn't care what was going on."
"My likeness, whether you see it in an interview, whether you see it in print, however you see it at that time, had 15 people dictating what I should and should not look like," she continued. "If I did whatever I want I'm not going to sell because it doesn't go with the brand. I was branded at such a young age."
Symone says she remembers all the negative press that surrounded Ellen DeGeneres when she came out, which stopped her from revealing her own truth.
"It was always negative. So, if you don't see other people going through it in a positive way, why would you say anything? There was nothing that would have made me want to deal with my own issue at that time. Nothing. Even if I got sick, I probably would have been like, 'I'm taking this to the grave.' But, that eats at your soul," she continues. "I never thought I would ever come out ... because my personal life didn't matter, it was only what was supposed to be sold as 'The Raven Symone Brand.' So, it was something that I always thought in my head, 'Ah, I'll always have a friend and a husband, so I can be happy.' So, I can have both taken care of ... with a beard. That didn't last."
Raven ultimately decided to come out after she met the right woman.
"I don't care anymore because I fell in love. And I was over the industry -- I wanted to retire. I said, 'If I'm not going to be in the industry, then I can come out.' So, I did that," she explains. "I went to college, I felt good, and I had support there beyond belief. It was the first time where I felt like I didn't have to have a beard, I didn't have to have a man standing by me because I'm in love with a girl."
"I felt lighter -- not like I had to put on 17 different hats to be myself," she concludes.
Check out the clip below to hear how Raven's parents reacted to the news ... and how that's affected their relationships!