If given the opportunity, Ananda Lewis says she wouldn’t return to being a steady TV personality after dominating that space for years in the mid to late ’90s and early ’00s. The way things are done has changed, and she likes living outside of the public gaze.
“I don’t know if I would want to do it now,” she told the people of The DL Hughley Show this week. “I probably could but I don’t think I would want to.”
“I like my privacy now,” she added. “I like feeling normal again. I didn’t feel normal at all. I didn’t seek out that career so it surprised me that that happened and it was scary to me for a while. I was frightened for a long time.”
Lewis was planning to teach, and was applying to do Teach for America when the opportunity to audition for BET’s Teen Summit came about. She was hired and never looked back, doing her best to embrace the opportunities that came with being a beloved face on TV. However, a number of uncomfortable encounters with people in public left her wanting to retreat. That, in particular, was the frightening thing for her.
“What it felt like to me was, people, because they would see you, especially at MTV, but it started happening at Teen Summit, they would see you and you’re common in their lives, every day, every weekend, all day long. You meant something to them. I think that’s powerful and wonderful — right up until you’re in person and you don’t really know them, but they really know you,” she said. “Then they grab you and they come at you and it’s invasive. I like people, but I’m really private in terms of, I also need a lot of loner time. I’m a loner in my nature. It made a huge conflict in my heart.”
Lewis, now 46, found the courage to leave it all behind, including doing her The Ananda Lewis Talk Show, after a few different life events happened. Those events included her grandmother requiring assistance and 9/11 happening.
“I had a, kind of a convergence of big life events happening that also influenced my decision,” she said. “It wasn’t only me going, I can’t do this anymore, and that was in the middle of the talk show that I knew it. I knew it before 9/11 happened because we had been taping, but when 9/11 happened I was like, ‘This is a sign. I’m not supposed to be here.’ There are major things going on that are like, ‘get out!'”
Ananda is still taking on hosting duties here and there. She is moderating the reunion for Season 3 of the TLC series, Unexpected, which airs Sunday. She also has hosted the latest season of the fun reality series While You Were Out. So Ananda is returning to TV here and there, but she’s clearly doing it on her own terms.
Hit the flip to take a walk down memory lane and see photos of Ananda from over the years (and to also see that she hasn’t aged at all):