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Interview: Miami Power Woman, Lea Black

Interview by Nadja Atwal / Photography by Greg Lotus

They say “It takes one to know one.” Therefore, we asked successful business woman and political commentator Nadja Atwal (who made headlines first after she was named sexiest power woman by a top US magazine) to interview one of Miami’s most prominent power women: Lea Black. Power some galore! Black became known to a large audience on the show “The Real House Wives of Miami” where to many she was the stand out class act, the one real lady with smarts and calmness in a pool of vanity and madness. Like our former cover model Joanna Krupa, she was already a success story before she joined the show and has managed to diversify her career by building her brand, becoming a bestselling book author and making her charity one where actual A-listers line up. And all the while making family life work as a devoted mom and wife.

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1. Most viewers thought you were the voice of wisdom on The Real Housewives of Miami…What did you take away from your time on the show and the high dosage of female drama? Any new lessons learned?

I learned some people will do anything for attention and it’s best to stay away from people that have nothing to lose. Drama and conflict can be interesting when it’s organic and based on fact with good intentions meant for true resolution. But when it gets dark, or it’s fabricated, it’s not interesting or entertaining.

2. Your tag line for Season 2 of RHOM was “I can deal with a lot of things but I can’t deal with stupid.” How did it come to that… too many run ins with incapable people?

Yes! I even put it on pillows and a cosmetic bag that we sell at leablack.com I realized that when dealing with smart people that have something to gain and something to lose you can usually come to agreement or agree to disagree, and at least have stimulating conversations.  But people that think any means justify an end or that are stupid enough to say and do anything not thinking about long term damage are just not worth being around and in their crossfire. Smart people make life easier even when you disagree. Stupid people are short sighted and too stupid to even consider collateral damage and consequences. Trying to reason with stupid is a waste of time. I never want to be the smartest person in the room. I want to be around people smarter than me to learn from them and evolve.

3. As power women we are easily pushed in the corner of  being harsh even dudish and the label “bitch” comes easily into play. Yet you look very feminine, and are a loving mother and wife. Do people feel confused about you and how would you describe yourself?

I think for the most part I am misunderstood. People don’t really know me they just think they do. And what I think of myself is far more important to me than what others think of me. I know I’m fair, honest, have integrity, keep my word and try to do the right thing. People can interpret my actions and words however they want to and twist them to suit their preconceived ideas of me but I don’t compromise who I am and what I believe to expose who others are. They usually do a good job of that on their own. I’m a pretty down to earth jeans and tee shirt simple girl that enjoys the good life but I’m not beholden to it or defined by it. I know the difference between being and doing, and that gives me peace of mind.

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4. On twitter you are very outspoken about politics. Even though I could not disagree more with you on our president elect, I always enjoy your tweets and applaud you for your outspoken attitude. Now how are you dealing with friends and biz friends who like you very much but also like our newly elected president? 

People have different political beliefs for different reasons. I’ve always fought for the underdog. Many times I feel I fight harder for them than they fight for themselves. I don’t believe a guy who has been as self serving as Trump has been for 70 years all of a sudden cares about the underprivileged and middle class. He pushes all of my buttons. Even if I agreed with him on policy his behavior disturbs me and I don’t trust him. He’s said too many things that in my opinion denigrate the office of the President and how we are perceived in the world. I’m truly hoping the people that favor him aren’t disappointed. Many Americans want the same thing and just have different ways of getting there. Then there are the haters and haters are gonna hate. Period the end. So I just ignore them and don’t have them in my life.

5. As a business woman you built a respectable little empire already. Skincare, handbags…how and why did this all start?

I started my business in the 1980’s. I created some beauty products that I really believed in and still believe in today. Along with top chemists I created Sudden Youth, a non surgical face lift kit that tones, firms, tightens, lifts and has lasting results. I’ve built a worldwide organization of sales reps that wanted to be able to earn income based on their accomplishments rather than what someone was willing to pay them. Many of them became very high powered business people earning large incomes today based on the training and entrepreneurial skills we taught them over the years. I’ve used Sudden Youth since the first jar and I still use it today along with customers I’ve cultivated over the years. Ten facials for $95 is unquestionably the best skincare for the best price that I’ve ever known of. I now sell it online at leablack.com along with affordable handbags and fashion jewelry. And we export. It’s a fun business and we make sure our customers get their monies worth while making a fashion statement.

6. You have been married for a long time ..to a powerful man. Even powerful men can  feel intimidated when their wife becomes famous and branches out. How did your husband handle it when you suddenly became a TV star and a power player?

I was equally as successful as my husband when I met him so he knew what he was getting into. He likes my independence and drive. We both knew the reality show would come and go and didn’t take it oh so seriously. We sorta laugh at the girls that think they’re “stars” because they were on reality tv. Let’s face it, it’s the lowest hanging fruit of fame. It’s great that it offers people opportunities & platforms and opens doors, but you really can’t take it that seriously. It’s reality tv! I guess after trying death penalty cases and being at the Supreme Court it just wasn’t on my husbands radar as a threat of me becoming too fabulous! Lol

7. Miami is your home turf. As a woman in the fashion business how do you rate Miami as a fashion city? And what are in your view typical Miami fashion trends right now?

I think fashion extends beyond apparel. In the Art works, Miami is known for Art Basel and people that have fabulous collections of serious art. In the fashion world of haute couture, I doubt you’ll find many collectors in Miami and if you do they’re very quite, subtle and sophisticated about it. Then there’s the Miami Beach fashion where it never ceases to amaze me how a 40 something year old woman will wear tight dresses up to their privates with push up bras and 6 inch stilettos. That’s a hoot! Then of course there are the high fashion models that have seen it all and collected it all that are show stoppers wherever they show up – and Miami is one of their favorite pastimes. But for the most part I think Miami is a somewhat casual fashion city, and much of that is because of the Caribbean type weather and lifestyle. There’s definitely something for everyone in Miami including the best dressed drag queens.

8. Tell us about your successful charity that always bedazzles Miami once a year with lot’s of glamour and  A-listers.

I started a charity in 1994 in my backyard having no idea what I was doing. It was to help at risk kids. I saw what happened to these kids when a parent was in jail or when they got arrested at a young age and society thought we should lock them up and throw away the key. So after being exposed to so much heartbreak through my husband’s profession, I just took matters into my own hands and started a gala to raise money. Somehow along the way it became known as the blacksannualgala.com and I begged all the rich people I know to share their wealth to help others and they did. Over 20 years later, millions of dollars later and performances usually generously donated by super talents like Barry Gibb, Tony Bennett, Queen Latifah, Flo Rida, Taylor Hicks, Rick Ross, Natalie Cole, Pharrell, Pit Bull, Aretha and many others, we just keep trying. I’ve realized that depending on the government for preschool and education for at risk kids is not a current solution. So we as a society need to get to them as early as we can and teach them right from wrong and good from bad and show them a way out of their circumstances. So, somehow all these years later we just kept at it.

9. You wrote a bestseller “Red Carpets & White Lies.” Why did you feel compelled to write this book and what makes it different compared to other insider-books about Hollywood?

My novel started out as a guilty pleasure. I just started writing. Then the Real Housewives of Miami started and I finished it and because of the show it got some attention, (thank you Bravo TV). Page 6 said I was the next Jackie Collins and I got rave reviews from people like Dave Barry, Norman Lear, Perez Hilton, Paul Levine, OK! Magazine and lots of pop culture connoisseurs, so I just said thank you to the Universe and I keep writing because I have fun doing it. It’s not Ayn Rand but if you want a clever and fun airplane or beach read and some laughs and giggles- it’s perfect.

10.  What are your plans for 2017?

My plans for 2017 are to expand my website awareness, talk to agents  ‘big names’ in order to find the right choice to perform for our charity event, spend time with my husband and 15 year old and my dogs, and like everybody else just try to stay healthy and get through Fridays at 5 o’clock.

11. You are a very sophisticated woman of eclectic taste. Kindly give our readers your current favorite places to check out in Miami?

My favorite Miami hangouts are (don’t laugh) my showroom off Brickell Avenue, the Deck at the Gardens, The Globe for salad, Caffe Abbracci for my son’s pizza, any movie theater that has a good movie out, anywhere with charity donors and friends, especially political minded friends, and other than that in bed with all my dogs and my husband and son in sight, and a good book.

Lea Black
Twitter: @leablackmiami
Instagram: LeaBlackMiami
Facebook:  LeaBlackMiami
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