I just LOVE Hue-Man Bookstore. I love what it represents for me as a daughter of Harlem and an author. The warmness and welcoming spirit that envelopes you is not like anything I have every experienced; the feeling is one of inclusion, intellect…family.
“The Little Book Store that Does” has hosted many a celebrity book signing, and last evening they hosted Mrs. NeNe Leakes, of “Real Housewives of Atlanta” fame.
NeNe was a delight to watch as she answered questions and discussed various topics that took place on and off the show. She definitely makes you feel easy with her “around the way girl” conversation. She didn’t engage in the kind of conversation that would suggest her to be a chicken-head or ghetto, but in the sort that makes you think of your “street smart” sister or best friend who utilized her life experience to move her into a lifelong dream deserving of the spotlight.
My desire to be in this industry has allowed my path to cross with plenty a celebrity, and much to the chagrin of this little brown girl, I have had plenty an image shattered by what they were REALLY like. Fortunately, the same cannot be said for NeNe.
To be frank, I don’t think that NeNe gets a fair break because of how she is portrayed on the show. Being outspoken, of course there would be tons of footage displaying her in a negative light. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is she is the girlfriend you hang with after work, the sister who congregates with you in your mother’s house while you’re getting your hair done and eating chicken wings and French fries from the Chinese restaurant. She is the aunt that makes it out of dire situations, despite the circumstances she was born into.
In the back of the book store where readings/signings are held, NeNe sat at the authors table and tore down the invisible wall that exists between most authors and their readers. She spoke of the difficulties surrounding her fame and the reality of the infringement that fame takes on your life. Harlem loved her, and she appeared to love Harlem as both faithfully trudged out in the misty/rainy weather to meet.
I ran in close to 7, having gotten off work at 6pm and traveling in from down town Brooklyn. I knew since last week NeNe was coming and I was going to go home and go to sleep, but the closer the 3 train got to 116th Street, the more anxious I got to attend. I ran through the door, threw down my excess bags and grabbed my camera (I didn’t even get time to take those damned OVER POWERING lashes off, but I didn’t want to miss it). I grabbed a cab and caught NeNe mid-sentence answering a question posed by Harlem Radio. I raised my hands a couple of times and finally got to tell her (author to author) what an inspiration she is. The “no-nonsense, I do it my way” she has that inspires women like me every day.
“You’re a writer?” she asked.
To which I responded yes. She wanted to know if I had a ghost writer and when I told her that I wrote it myself, she curiously inquired about the cost of self-publishing and the subject matter.
Then she applauded me. Right there in the middle of HER signing, she congratulated me on having the courage to write and put out my book. She asked if I was interested in major publishing and I answered that I was but I wasn’t going to wait until someone made the discovery that I am actually talented. I told her it was the NeNe’s Leakes of the world (having their say), the Mo’Nique’s of the world (putting the joke elsewhere but on themselves), the Gabourey Sidibe’s of the world (showing the talent is not limited to a size two), the Velvet D’Amour’s of the world (who walked the Jean Paul Gautier fashion show in a size 28 – proving that beauty comes in all sizes), that women like me can pass the stars and grasp the moon.
Would you know in the middle of HER signing she told me she’d do everything she could to get my book out there? I walked out of Hue-Man feeling like most of us should, accomplished, heard…appreciated. More than any of those things, I know that granted the chance given by the Universe, I walked out with a new sister, new cousin, new confidant, but most importantly…a new friend.
If you haven’t already, check out her new book “Never make the Same Mistake Twice: Lessons on Love & Life Learned the Hard Way” by NeNe Leakes with Denene Millner.