Melissa McCarthy, the comedic actress and Little Mermaid star is the cover star of PEOPLE’s 2023 Beautiful Issue. In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, the 52-year-old actress expressed her excitement about being chosen for the cover.
“I thought the younger version of myself or everybody out there who isn’t the youngest or whatever… I felt like it was saying something really lovely to my younger self, to my 20-year-old self,” she said.
McCarthy, who is married to her husband and producing partner, actor Ben Falcone, with whom she has two kids, Vivian and Georgette, also talked about her journey to accepting herself and her body. She credits her husband for helping her finally feel comfortable in her own skin.
“Because he’s so constantly loving and kind. And funny and the weirdest human I know, to be honest,” she says with affection. “And somewhere in my 30s, I was like ‘I’m okay with who I am.’ And if someone wasn’t thrilled with that, that’s okay too. At some point, I was like, ‘They’re not all going to like you.’ You have to learn that the hard way, but it’s a good [lesson].”
McCarthy’s success has been hard-earned, having grown up in rural Illinois outside of Chicago. As a kid, she describes herself as “very kind of 100 miles an hour into every possible thing,” and she loved sports, dressing up, and being high-energy. “We grew up on a farm, so I think it gives you a really different perspective,” she said.
Despite being successful in Hollywood, McCarthy remains grounded and prioritizes her family. She hasn’t even told her daughters about the cover yet because they were busy trying to convince her to get another gecko. “I think this might mean more to [them] as they get older,” she said.
In addition to her cover shoot, McCarthy is also gearing up for the release of her latest film, The Little Mermaid, which hits theaters on May 26. Fans can’t wait to see her take on the role of Ursula, the villainous sea witch.