Back among the ‘stars’

Paula Deen


She comes on larger than life, carefree and confident. Add big beautiful blue eyes, a sexy Southern twang and you have the makings of a successful career. Paula Deen, 68, has proven that America still offers anyone the chance of opportunity and achievement. People also love a rags-to-riches story, but only to a certain extent. Becoming a public figure takes a lot of courage in today’s social climate; one that Paula had not bargained for, but she is back among the stars.

Paula Deen always dreamed of a house with a white picket fence, filled with the laughter of children and a loving husband. What she got was not even close. While her friends were having Tupperware parties and taking kids to band practice, Paula was packing boxes for yet another move. Her alcoholic husband brought turmoil into a home by not being able to hold a job, so off they would go in search of his next new opportunity.

To add fuel to the fire, Paula suffered from depression and agoraphobia, an anxiety disorder that kept her isolated and alone. Married at 18, pregnant at 19 and losing both of her parents by the age of 23, Deen spent the next 2 decades trying to cope. “Some days I could get to the supermarket, but I could never go too far inside,” Ms. Deen said. “I learned to cook with the ingredients they kept close to the door.”

She found comfort in southern cooking, taught to her by her Grandma Paul, and raising her 2 boys, Jamie and Bobby, and one day decided that enough was enough. She wanted her kids to have a chance in life so she took a deep breath and started making sack lunches for local businesses in Savannah. Her confidence began to surface and divorce from a wrecked 20-year marriage was inevitable. Now, it was just her and her beloved sons.

The ugly past seemed merely a dream when Paul Deen published a cook book in 1998 and it was picked up by QVC. Over 70,000 copies were sold and the light at the end of the tunnel began to appear. Shortly after, her first restaurant, The Lady and Sons, received an award as the Most Memorable Meal of the Year by USA Today, and her scrimping days were over.

Paula opened another restaurant, Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House, owned by Deen and her brother, Bubba Hiers. She has authored 14 cookbooks that have sold more than 8 million copies. In addition to her many television successes, Paula launched Paula Deen Live! in 2014, a nationwide tour of 90 minute shows featuring Paula making her favorite seasonal dishes.

In 2012, allegations from an employee of Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House of sexual harassment and racial discrimination brought a lawsuit against Bubba and his establishment. The media was more than willing to turn this tidbit of news into a public scandal. Without any concrete evidence or merit to the claim, the sensitivity police came running toward the story. Food Network dropped her. So did Walmart, QVC, Smithfield Foods, Home Depot, Target and more. Her publisher, Random House’s Ballantine Books, canceled her forthcoming cookbook.

However, anyone that can withstand the pain of alcoholism, mental disease and being orphaned at an early age, can wind the turmoil of sarcasm and hate. The case was dropped in 2013, with no payout settlement, leaving the followers of the case to scratch their heads. Not able to stand up to a mistake, these same mongrels continue to combat the Southern Belle with ridicule of her fat-laced recipes, in hopes of saving grace with their own followers. But Paula Deen has grown a new skin since the days of learning to cope and is working her way to the top once more.

With her family and audience continuing to be supportive, she is leaving this page in her life behind, thanking God that this weed has finally been plucked and thrown away. On September 14, 2015, Paula will debut on Dancing with the Stars. She will be paired with professional dancer Louis van Amstel. The masses have spoken and Paula Deen is here to stay.

AAPJ - Portrait of Paula Deen_Page_2To open PDF, right click the words below for digital print format:

Portrait of Paula Deen



Published by on September 2015. Filed under AAPJ Digital Prints, Art-to-Art Palette NewsWire/AAPNW, Cover Section, Cupboard Section, In-Out Design Section, Northwest Passage Record/NWPR, Palette News Arts Network/PNAN. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Comment for “Back among the ‘stars’”

  1. M.G. Carolina

    Realize Paula is a book for most writers, however you brought out those touches of this southern charmer, blessed with that not only that skill to make an old shoe taste like a mouth-watering steak, but also an eye for practical beauty that wraps a tired body in a sea of pure homespun comfort.

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