In the world of entertainment, there are many participants who are loved and respected for their works as public figures. They are also seen as inspiring personalities and role models by the many fans who follow their work. However, no matter how beloved a superstar is, they can fall from grace in the twinkle of an eye if they are caught making controversial comments or doing controversial things. This is the case of Paula Deen, a popular American TV personality and cooking show host who became the subject of public contempt when it came to light that she made really derogatory racial remarks.
For many years, Paula Deen was a beloved culinary star who was followed by so many fans and admired for her charm and pleasant demeanor. She attracted millions of viewers to her show and got them hooked to her brand of down-home, Southern cooking. She literally had a perfect life and a perfect job. However, everything came crumbling down when she confessed to certain racist comments and actions. Let’s take a look at how she lost it all.
How Paula Deen Rose To Prominence
Everyone knows her simply as Paula Deen, however, it is noteworthy that her full name is actually Paula Ann Hiers Deen. The TV personality was born on the 19th day of January 1947 in Albany, a city in Georgia, USA. She was born to a mother identified as Corrie A. Hiers and a father called Earl Wayne Hiers, Sr. She has a brother called Earl Hiers who is her only known sibling.
Growing up was not very easy for Deen; she got into an early marriage at the age of 18 to Jimmy Deen and they had two children together, Jamie Deen and Bobby Deen who are both chefs too. Paula Deen’s parents died before she clocked 23 years and she was left to cater for her brother. The death of her parents gave her panic attacks and chronic agoraphobia, an anxiety disorder. To cope with this disorder, she began to stay indoors to cook for her family since she could not leave the house due to her illness.
In 1989, Paula Deen’s marriage came to an end which prompted her move to Savannah Georgia along with her sons. To afford the right care for her sons, Paula took to working several jobs as a bank teller and other times as a real estate agent. Eventually, she had the idea to put her cooking abilities to good use, so she started a catering service, making meals and sandwiches and handing to her sons to deliver. She called her catering business ‘The Bag Lady’.
The Bag Lady soon became very popular and Paula Deen had to expand the business; she opened a restaurant and called it ‘The Lady and Sons’. The restaurant which she managed with her two sons, also became very popular and in 1999, she was awarded the International Meal of the Year title by USA Today. Having become a popular cook, Paula Deen wrote her first cookbook which she titled “The Lady and Sons Savannah Country Cookbook”. Her cookbook became popular and she soon found her way to TV, appearing on the QVC shopping channel.
Paula Deen’s popularity grew faster when she started appearing as a guest on some Food Network shows. She finally shot a pilot for Food Network called Afternoon Tea in 2001 and soon after that, she started her own show called Paula’s Home Cooking. The show was a hit and her two sons soon started featuring as well.
She started another show Paula’s Party in 2006 and her sons went on to land their own show called Road Tasted the same year. Everything was falling into place and her name became synonymous with cooking in America. In 2007, Paula Deen emerged the winner of a Daytime Emmy Award for her work on Paula’s Home Cooking.
How She Lost It All
Having become one of the most popular faces on Food Network and one of the most popular names in the American culinary industry, Paula Deen was highly respected and had so many fans. She wrote many cookbooks which sold loads of copies. She was even selected as the Grand Marshal of the Tournament of Roses Parade in 2010. However, she fell from grace soon after.
It all started in 2013 when she was sued by a former employee, Lisa Jackson who used to be the general manager of her restaurant in Savannah, Georgia. Lisa accused Paula Deen of racial harassment and also accused Deen’s brother of sexual harassment. According to Lisa, Deen frequently used the ‘N’ word at work.
During the deposition, Paula Deen admitted to using the ‘N’ word for her black employees. She also admitted that she had planned a wedding in which she wanted her African-American employees to act like slaves while they were serving the white guests. This admission was all the hit she needed to fall from grace as she never recovered from the backlash her admission resulted into.
Because of the huge backlash against her for her racial comments, Paula Deen was dismissed from Food Network which refused to renew her contract. Also, shortly after this, the cook was dropped by her publisher, Ballantine Books which canceled her book deal. Things went downhill from there and only went from bad to worse. Soon, other companies including Walmart and Target revealed they would no more be restocking her products because of the scandal.
Journey To Recovery
A long-time after the trial was over and the suit was settled, the backlash calmed down and Paula Deen started making efforts at rebuilding her battered image and career again. She reached out to her loyal fans and revealed that she was planning to start her own network online since she was no more on Food Network. She eventually launched the Paula Deen Network in 2014 and started showing programs like 20-Minute Meals and Paula Cooking Light.
She also began hosting another show, Positively Paula in 2016. Today, she has managed to shed off most of the negativity that plagued her after she was accused of racism and seems to be well on her way to a good recovery.