By Angela Betancourt
The famous French writer and poet Alphonse de Lamartine once said “There is a woman at the beginning of all great things” and that is definitely true when it comes to Lea Black. A mother, wife, philanthropist, author, television personality, political fundraiser, and entrepreneur, Lea Black is a South Florida power house.
Originally from Texas , Lea moved to Miami in the 1980’s and began to build her empire while encouraging women everywhere to pursue their passions and accomplish the goals they set out for themselves.
Her charity work began 19 years ago when she founded the Blacks Gala, one of the most anticipated events of the year. The Blacks Gala has raised thousands for many charities and has attracted A-list entertainers like Lil Wayne, Queen Latifah, Tony Bennett, Diane Warwick, Patti Labelle, Natalie Cole, Barry Gibb, Pit Bull and Pharrell Williams. Flo-rida and Taylor Hicks will both be performing this year; a unique pairing of performers only the Blacks Gala could pull off.
When Lea is not focusing on her philanthropic work, she is finding ways to make women look and feel more beautiful. One of Lea’s earlier beauty companies had over 400 products. In 2010 she co-founded and co-launched Andre Walker Hair Products with Oprah’s stylist. She then developed her Sudden Youth instant facelift product that quickly became a top rated infomercial. However, that wasn’t enough. Lea authored the book “Beauty from Within” to share her secrets with women everywhere.
Lea is also very involved in politics. Her political fundraising has reached the highest office. President Obama personally called her to host his very first fundraiser in Florida . Her political ties include VP Joe Biden, NY US Rep. Charlie Rangle, US Sen. Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi.
There is one role that Lea finds to be the most rewarding and that is the role of mom and wife. Lea is also a part of a very important trio that includes her 11 year old son RJ and her famed criminal defense attorney husband Roy Black.
The Lea Black Universe is a growing phenomenon that perhaps might not all fit in her new website the www.theworldofleablack.com But it’s a worth a try none the less. Lea recently sat down with L’Etage Magazine to offer a glimpse into her everyday life, career and philosophies.
There is a woman at the beginning of all great things…
L’ETAGE: The Blacks Gala is right around the corner. What are you most looking forward to?
LEA BLACK: The day after!! Lol. And of course Flo Rida, Taylor Hicks and the amazing DJs who will be performing.
L’ETAGE: How did you get Flo-Rida to be this year’s headliner act?
LB:He was generous enough to do it so we worked around his schedule.
L’ETAGE: What initially inspired you to start this gala?
LB: Seeing kids that had so little and wanting to offer them hope and direction. Also all of my fabulously generous friends wanting to help- so it was sort of a match.
L’ETAGE: Why did you decide to make The Consequences Charity Foundation the beneficiary?
LB: For the first 15 years we did the charity right out of my home and gave the funds directly to a school that was an alternative to jail for good kids that made bad choices. As the economic problems started to impact the state budget the school lost their funds. Then we started the Consequences Foundation which was named by a friend of mine, Engin, who gave us the seed money to make a video and later a curriculum for at risk youth teaching them the consequences of their actions. It is now promoted in several locations throughout the state.
L’ETAGE: How do you decide what other charitable organizations will also benefit?
LB: Organizations who’s missions align with ours. Education and intervention based organizations that believe in second chances and an alternative to jail for kids that deserve a second chance.
L’ETAGE: How will the money raised at the gala help The Consequences Charity Foundation?
LB: It will benefit the Consequences video we distribute and hopefully help us expand its distribution . And we will be supporting the Breakthrough Foundation and Teach for America .
L’ETAGE: Let’s talk about beauty. Why should women look to your products for their skincare needs?
LB: Because they are simple, have clinical studies to prove they work and women will have a simple regime that I think will have their skin looking its best. Sudden Youth Facial and our Serum and Moisture Crème are everything you need for your skin. They’re available at theworldofleablack.com
L’ETAGE: Congratulations on your new website! www.theworldofleablack.com What do you hope people will take away with them after visiting your site?
LB: I hope it’s a fun shopping experience people will enjoy. Hopefully they will find something they like that will make them want to come back and visit again.
L’ETAGE: Your new hair products are scheduled for July of this year. What is going to set this product apart from everyone?
LB:That’s top secret!
L’ETAGE: Growing up, who were your role models? Who inspired you to be the woman you are today?
LB: Strong people and leaders that stood for something made me aspire to do good things in the world.
L’ETAGE: You believe that women can accomplish anything that they set their mind to. What advice do you give aspiring young women around the world to inspire them to fulfill their dreams?
LB: Go for it and be persistent but have good intentions. Be committed and willing to do the work, think outside the box.
L’ETAGE: How would you describe your experience on the show and your relationship with the other Housewives?
LB: It’s been interesting. I find some of them interesting, some fascinating and others not so much.
L’ETAGE: What inspired you to write your book “The World of Lea Black”?
LB: That’s my website. My book is a fictional mystery novel with suspense and scandals about the social scene in Miami . I love the characters. They’re composites of various people I find interesting.
L’ETAGE: What was the best part about writing the book? What was the hardest?
LB: It was fun, a comic relief, guilty pleasure and an escape from reality. The hardest is the editing and I had some help with that.
L’ETAGE: You are a mom, a CEO, a wife, and a philanthropist. What do you do on your “down” time?
LB: Read, write and cuddle my husband and son.
L’ETAGE: What activities do you enjoy with your family?
LB: Movies, restaurants, bike rides… anything as long as we are together.