How Did Stacy Ike Go From Waitressing To Hosting On OWN? She Fought For Her Fairytale

October 17, 2017  |  

 

Let me start by saying that the first time I met Stacy Ike, OWN host, actress, entrepreneur, and red carpet correspondent, was in a  National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) meeting on the campus of the University of Missouri (Mizzou). I was on the executive board and after we ran through our spiel, we opened the floor up to the general body for questions. Stacy, a freshman I didn’t know at the time, raised her hand. Someone called on her and she stood up and said something to the effect of “First of all, I just want to say you all look so fabulous.” There were nine of us on the exec board. Stacy pointed to every last one of us and said, “Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous…” before asking her question.

I reminded her of this moment to begin our interview.

Laughs “Oh my God I was the most obnoxious person ever. That was a lot.”

MN: But also, I feel like you’re still kind of like that today. You’re encouraging, you’re uplifting you have compliments for everybody. Some things about our personalities don’t change, they just amplify. So when you were younger when you thought about what you wanted to be, what did you see yourself doing or being?

“A kind of short answer. I wanted everything that I did to have something to do with people. I don’t think when I was younger I really knew what I wanted to do. I just knew it had to do with people because I was obsessed with them then, I’m still obsessed with them now.

MN: So when did you figure out it was going to be something in media?

I did the tv thing in high school and my English teacher, as well as one of my pastors, said, ‘You know what you should look into Mizzou. They have a really good journalism school.’ My parents were like, ‘Ok, let’s go visit.’ But my dad was like ‘You’re going to Missouri. That’s too far.’ [Stacy is originally from Texas.] So anyway, we see this beautiful school with this beautiful campus and I was like ‘Ok, this seems right.’ So when I got to school, thank God I joined NABJ because NABJ exposed me to different versions of what that could look like.

Sophomore year when we (NABJ) visited L.A. (for our annual media tour) was really when I knew, ‘Ok, that’s a rap. I gotta do something in this realm. I gotta do this.’ Within college is when I was discovering what it looked like to do media but to figure out a way to do it yourself.

MN: Talk about that Stacy for real. Because I feel like we’re seeing this now with Jemele Hill. You unite yourself with these organizations and they just don’t have your best interest at heart.

It made more sense to have the job. Not necessarily the 9-5 but some type of security, some place to go and a company. But the thing that I did was not apply for a job because I was trying to prove to myself and others that I didn’t have to go that angle. I know it’s a weird sentiment. It’s not that I didn’t want to work hard. But if you’re going to put in work, you need to put in work where you want to put in work. So I graduated, did not apply for any journalism jobs. That was the scariest decision I made. I was trying to prove that you can make it up on your own. My entire career has been a lot of building in the air, making things up, faith over fear. It was really just a decision I had to make to be broke to find my brilliance.

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MN: Did you talk to anyone about your decision and what did people say about that?

After college, I moved to Australia, trying to figure out what I really wanted to do. When I came back, I was working in retail trying to figure it out. I knew it was in L.A. but didn’t know what that really meant. I talked to my professor Stacey Woelfel, from Mizzou, who to this day supports the decision I made. I remember having a really weak moment a couple of years ago and I said, ‘I think I should just go back and maybe I should start over with journalism.’ And he said, ‘That’s a waste of your time. You’ve already started.’ And it was very encouraging because he was my news director. My parents were a big part of me taking that leap. Even though they didn’t know what that meant. You could tell they were scared but they were trying to decide what kind of parents they wanted to be and what kind of person they wanted me to be, as well. I was not a happy person when after I came back from Australia. I wanted to do what I wanted to do and I was too scared. And they were like, ‘What is it going to take for you to get back to being like yourself?’ And I said, ‘I have to move.’ They were like, ‘Ok, we’ve got to drop you at the airport then, you’ve got to go.’

MN: What were the highs and lows of making that decision to move out to L.A.?

Even though I was super broke, had no car. I thought I had a job, found out a week later I didn’t. Still, the freedom I felt. I can’t replace it. And I knew I couldn’t replace it because I felt different. I got the typical restaurant, server job. I took the typical acting classes. I was on the bus. But it really strengthened and shaped me. It was about finding yourself and being ok with the fact that it was going to be a journey. You can move too fast when you come to L.A. But you’ve got to slow down, look at all the ways and then go. So I had to really learn that.

MN: What moves would you say set you up to be in the position you’re in now?

I said no. At the time, I didn’t realize it was for my benefit. There’s a lot that glitters here but everything is not gold. So my decision to say no, to stay broke a couple different times. I was offered a really dope reality show and I knew that I had to say no. But I was like, ‘Why?! You know I needed that money.’ And God was like, ‘I’m trying to show you how to be obedient. I’m trying to show you what it looks like to actually get what you deserve.’ And He quickly showed me that after that decision. No, it’s not going to be easy but just really knowing that the craft was/is before making leaps.

I ask a lot of questions. That’s another big thing. People are very scared to ask questions. I’m like, ‘I don’t care. I’ll ask anything if I don’t feel like I know because I don’t want to look stupid later.’

MN: So we have to talk about meeting Oprah, what that conversation was like, and how you were able to turn that connection you guys obviously had, into an opportunity?

We met twice before the big step in. We met on a red carpet for “Greenleaf” and it was a lot of different reporters she had to talk to. So, I was thinking, ‘How can I have this moment with her?’ And I asked my brand manager and she said, ‘Ooh she has this cookbook, coming out. You should mention that. So while I was interviewing her, I thought, ‘I am going to make sure to make her laugh.’ So I asked her the most ridiculous question about emojis. She made jokes and laughed.

Then I saw her after the carpet. And I went up to her afterward and I said, ‘You have this cookbook coming out and I heard you love avocados and I love avocados.’ And we had this whole conversation about avocados. And people were like, ‘What are they talking about? They’re so excited!’ It was the funniest thing. I’m having this moment with her and I’m not even realizing it’s with her because I’m so comfortable.

So, that was my first time meeting her. And I’m thinking this is never going to happen again. But it happens again for another show. So I went up to her, getting ready to interview and she said, ‘Oh, I just watched your podcast.’ And I said, ‘She’s lying. She has to be lying.’ And she said, ‘You just had Tye White on there and it was really good. I walked to her again and I said, ‘When are you going to come on my show?’ And she said, ‘I can’t come in but I can call in.’ So she gets her assistant, we get information down. And I was just stunned.

We do this interview and that definitely brought her team who were like, ‘Who are these people that you decided to do this random interview with? Obviously, you like them.’ So we should figure out who they are. So when the opportunity came to do the after show for “Greenleaf,” my name was in the hat because of that experience and I have a few friends who work at OWN. And what’s really crazy about the story is that so many people have so many different versions about how I got the job. People were like, ‘Girl, I said your name.’ ‘I emailed.’ I was like, ‘Wow, so many people did so many things but God did the main thing. Nobody else actually gets credit for it.

I got the show and it was incredible and I had a meeting with her shortly after the show. And she was just really pouring into me. She was saying, ‘ You have incredible potential, let me hone in on it. Let me help you fix here.’ It was serious one-on-one time with her. That was insane. She was very kind and she just kept reminding me, ‘The only reason you’re here is because you were prepared to be here.’

MN: You have this campaign called “Fight For Your Fairytale” explain to me what that means for you and where the concept came from.

Before all of this big stuff, there was little stuff. It taught me that I had to fight for what I wanted and what I deserved and that I had to keep fighting. Living in a fairytale is not roses or whatever, it’s what you want for yourself. I think society sells us one version of a fairytale and that is so not true. Everybody has their own version and deserves that version. So I was saying it out loud. I want to fight for my fairytale. I want other people to fight for their fairytales because it’s the version of ourselves that we deserve. Every one of us has greatness and the steps are already ordered. Your fairytale is going to evolve and grow and get better. That’s where it all came from, believing in that and telling other people to do the same thing.

MN: Can you talk about those dark moments and how you found the encouragement or motivation to move past them?

A couple of days ago, someone asked me, ‘How are you so fearless?’ And I told them, ‘I’m not fearless.’ I just love the honesty of answering that question. ‘I am not a fearless person. I am a faithful person who is guided by somebody who is way better than me. I’m not doing this by myself.’ I don’t want it to be cliche when I say make sure you have people around you that support you. But that is such a big deal. Because in those dark moments you’re like, ‘Yes, ok God I’m talking to you.’ But in your human moment you’re like, ‘God I really need you to put a friend in my life so I don’t lose my mind.’ Also, I’m a huge journaler. And I spend a lot of time writing down all the bad so I can get to the good. And it was such a testament to see my penmanship change.

Also, it was ok for me to take a moment to be basic, to just not be bomb. Because you’re so busy beating yourself up that you’re not taking the time to figure out why you are where you are and what the lesson is in where you are. Be conscious of what’s happening to you but also know when it’s time to walk out of it. I can only be there for so long. I didn’t want the purpose to pass me by while I was over there sitting in the pity. You know when it’s too long. Even if you’re not sure, you just do it scared.

MN: What’s next Stacy?

Being in L.A. has shown me so many versions of what you can do. When I came out here I thought ‘I’m just going to be a host.’ No, no. I’m going to do whatever I want. I’m so excited about that. I loved being on tv. I loved being a host but now I can do whatever I want with it. I don’t have to do it in one way. We’re so multi-faceted at this point. We’re hyphened. There are no more boxes. That’s done.

So I’m getting back into acting, creating my own projects. I have a lot of digital content coming out and just building that community because that community really saved me. Writing a script right now, writing a book right now. Just making sure that all of what’s coming in is coming out.

I have the One Take Stace Media Brunch coming up on October 22. That’s back by popular demand. I love the power of collaborating and networking which is why we do the brunch. So we need to have a space where we can be free, be real and talk and say what’s happening so we can all learn from that.

I just did my first commercial for the Fight for Your Fairytale merchandise. So super pumped about all those different things.

I’m so excited and I’m really blessed to have a community of people who are starting to tune in to what I’m saying because I’m only saying it because I was given it. I really want to push this idea that we’re allowed to be this bomb, we’re allowed to do what we want and we’re allowed to do it together.
As female oriented as Fight for your Fairytale can be, I really want men to feel the same thing. It’s for the unreasonable dreamer. So I’m just really excited and I hope people latch on to that and understand where my heart is when I say that.

You can follow Stacy on her Instagram and Twitter pages or subscribe to her website StacyIke.com

 

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