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51st NAACP Image Awards - Arrivals

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Media maven Bevy Smith is out making her rounds telling her life story, which she details in her recently released memoir, Bevelations: Lessons from a Mutha, Auntie, Bestie. We had a chance to speak to Bevy about her career, what she’s learned from her past romantic relationships, normalizing loving one’s body and more. See what she had to say below. 

MadameNoire: You’ve had a very storied career, a storied, life. What made you know that now was the time to write your story down?

Bevy: It was really what the people wanted, okay?!

When I say the people, I mean, you know, folks on social media really asking me for advice and asking me to meet with them so they can pick my brain. People asking me to be their mentor, you know? And so, when you have hundreds of people asking you that and over the years that accumulates into thousands of people, you think, ‘Oh, well, maybe that I can write a book and someone might actually buy it.’ Also, my agent thought it was a really good idea. Which is always nice when someone who has the ability to get you a book deal believes that you should have one.  And so that’s the way it really came together. It was like a perfect storm. Once my agent and I put together one sheet, I gotta call out the blue from Andy Cohen and he asked me if I’d ever thought about writing a book. And I said, ‘As a matter of fact, I just met with my agent and we just drafted a one-sheet. And he said, please meet with my publishing house.

I met with them and they gave me a great deal and and so Bevelations: Lessons From a Mutha,. Auntie, Bestie was born. 

 

MadameNoire: A part of your story leaving a very thriving career. So since the book is about advice, what would you say to people who are dissatisfied with their job? How do you know when it’s time to leave?

Bevy: You could be very dissatisfied with a job that doesn’t mean you have to leave. Because there’s still financial constraints that we all fall under. Unless we have a rich parent that is subsidizing our lives. Or we have a rich partner that subsidizing our lives. I always tell people that you can be unhappy in a job but quitting it doesn’t mean that all of a sudden you’re gonna get happy. Because if you quit your job and then, all of a sudden, you can’t afford to pay your rent or buy food, that’s gonna make you hella depressed, too. So we have to temper these things, right? 

I first started feeling dissatisfied in my late twenties about my career. And I didn’t know what it was. And so I quit my job at an advertising agency where I was media director. And then I drifted for maybe a year before I landed at Vibe magazine, where I became the fashion and beauty advertising director, and I loved it there. It was the best job ever. I felt like– you know that scene in Boomerang Eddie Murphy walks into the office and everybody is beautiful and Black? That’s how it felt going to Vibe every single day.

We were breaking lots of big business and doing things that no one thought would ever be able to be done at a Black magazine. I felt really good, really proud about it. And then one day, I realized I was miserable in that place, too. I just wasn’t happy. And Vibe had not been the cultural safe haven for me, I would have been dissatisfied a lot quicker. 

And I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So I’m 33 years old and I’m dissatisfied, But I literally don’t actually pull the trigger to change my life until I’m 38.

I always like to stress that. Because I never want someone to think.’Oh, wow.’– In the book. I talk about the fact that there’s this beautiful, fictitious montage in my head about being 33, being dissatisfied with my job and quitting right then instantly. But of course, that’s just a fantasy. It took five years for me to one, even acknowledge that I was dissatisfied with something that had been a dream of mine,

Then I had to figure out what it was that made me unhappy. Then I had to figure out what might make me happy.So there’s steps to this. And it took five years because I actually had to map out the plan as well. 

So I would say to everyone who’s feeling dissatisfied on your job. Don’t do anything rash.

Think about it. 

Make a plan. 

Talk to a financial advisor.

Talk to your family. Especially if you’re married or the primary caregiver for a child or parent.

You have to think about all of these things before you just jump out the window. Then if you have a good plan and it’s a go, I advise people to take some courses in whatever it is they want to go into. 

Before I quit, I took DJ classes, photography classes, acting classes, improv classes, I did all these different things, revving up for my big debut as this new person. 

 

Bevelations

Source: Macmillan / Macmillan Publishers

MadameNoire: After you quit, there was this seven year stretch where things were uncertain. So how did you keep yourself uplifted while you waited for your risk to pay off?

Bevy: I think that you’re talking about the “Broke But Blissful” chapter where I was literally broke. I wasn’t broke, actually broke for seven years. I was broke for four. For a year and a half, I was great! I quit my job and did an  Eat, Pray, Love thing. I went to South Africa, Zambia, Brazil. It was fabulous. 

.I was doing all these things. It was cute, cute, cute. And, then the money started getting funny.

I created Dinner with Bevy that gave me some more income. But yes, so probably four years of like, hardcore brokenness and was able to sustain myself is because I was doing everything that I actually quit my job to do. I quit my job to do entertainment. I was on E!, BET, VH1. 

I also quit my job to write and I was writing for Interview, Paper, Glamour and Essence. 

So I was like, ‘Okay, I’m actually doing the things that I set out to do. I just don’t have any money because those jobs don’t pay. TV doesn’t pay initially. But the thing that sustained me during those tough times was knowing that God was giving me all the signs that said, ‘Oh this is definitely the path you’re supposed to be on.’

I think if maybe if I hadn’t gotten any of those jobs or any of those opportunities, I probably would have given up. But then I think, ‘Wow, what if I had given up in year three or five or even year six? How crazy would that have been to know, if you just waited one more year, you would get back. After that you would get “Page Six Tv” and then you would get Bevelations the radio show and then you would have a book. All of that goes to waste if I quit in year six. 

So you have to think about that if you’re pursuing this life of dreams and trying to manifest and fueling your passions. It’s not easy. But it’s also not easy to lead a mediocre life, either. 

 

MadameNoire: You have to pick your poison, pick your pain. 

Bevy: It’s not of pain attached to trying to pursue your dreams especially if you’re getting indicators from the universe. from God, from Allah, whatever you believe in.  But you gotta be on the lookout for the signs.

A lot of times people only want to see a win if it’s a big gargantuan win. If it’s flashy. Most people are like, when I got “Fashion Queens,” they said, ‘Oh my gosh, you did it.’  I mean, I felt like I had done it when I got my first VH1 talking head gig.

Next week I’m going to go film a guest star role on a tv show as an actress. Because that’s one of the things I put in the book. The book is a vision board. 

It’s not a big role but I’m doing it. I’m acting.  Somebody else might say when it comes out ‘Oh, I saw you on your little role.’ I’ll be like, ‘Little to who?!’

 

MadameNoire: I want to speak a little bit about, like, authenticity. I remember you did an interview for this series How I Made It and you shared that your first boyfriend told you you had a nice figure and you should show it off. And I’m like, you know, she really stuck to that. 

There are so many Black women who have a certain body type and it’s hyper-sexualized or demonized. They’re seen as unprofessional. So we end up hiding our bodies.  They tell us you can’t make it certain places if you show this, if you show that. So I want to speak to you about, why you made the decision to show your body the way you do, cleavage specifically, and continue doing that throughout your career. 

Bevy: Well, I actually show my booty a lot, too. But it’s just that you see people from the front. You don’t really see people from the back. Like if I’m on stage, you’re gonna see my tits. You’re not gonna see my booty. But in my book, I talk about interviewing Grace Jones and she loved my breasts. But when I stood up, she saw my butt she was like, ‘Oh my God!’ And in the book. There’s actually a picture of Grace Jones groping my butt. She said, ‘I didn’t know you had such a juicy posterior!’

I got it in the front and the back. 

But the reason why is I felt really good about my body even with weight fluctuation. The reason why I feel really good about my body is because of the way I was raised by my mother. My mother is someone who loves-she’s a very vain woman. And while that can sometimes be a very negative thing, I find that because my mom is able to catalog all of her gifts and actually catalog all of me and my sisters physical gifts as well, I know some things about myself.

 I know I have beautiful lips. I know I have great eyes. I know I have a beautiful cleavage. I know I have great legs. These are things I know about myself. I grew up with a mom who appreciated our physical beauty. So that’s where I get it from my mama, literally. And that stuck with me. 

I’ve banned the phrase “brave” when it comes to liking yourself. What is brave about loving who you are? I’m not going to act like that’s not a normal thing. It’s abnormal to not love yourself. We need to stop normalizing people feeling bad about themselves and having low self esteem. We have to make sure we’re doing things to make sure people are feeling good about themselves. 

MadameNoire: You said recently that you realized, at some point, that you didn’t need to be validated by a man. Can you speak about how you came to that realization? 

Bevy: Well, I came to that realization the hard way. I came to it because I was– I had broken up with the last person that I thought I was really going to marry. And it was a very painful break up because I had turned myself inside out to be with him. I don’t know about you, but I’m the type of person that if I go above and beyond and I don’t get what I want, it’s going to be hell to pay. 

So I felt like I had done so much to be who he wanted me to be  and we still couldn’t make it work. I was very upset until I really had to do the hard work on myself and realize that,I had put too much pressure on him and the relationship. I entered into the relationship with a predatory spirit. I simply was not being a person who was capable of having a healthy relationship. I was not capable of it at that time.

And so I had to look at myself. And one of the the things I’m most proud of is that, for whatever happened in our relationship, when you read the book,I don’t assign a lot of blame to him because it takes two to tango. Also, it’s neither here nor there what he did. People can only do to you what you let them do. So what was going on with me? I would rather do the self analysis and be like, now, what was going on with me that allowed me to get into this situation. And by doing that good work, that’s how I realized, ‘Oooh, I’m going to have to make myself happy. Oh, this happiness journey is actually a solo excursion.’ I didn’t know that. 

I definitely thought it was a man’s job to make me happy. 

 

MadameNoire: I’m sure you’ve probably gotten this because a lot of women, I mean all women get this pressure to be married or the or the feeling that you haven’t accomplished everything because you’re not married. I saw you tweeted that. You wrote marriage is not a key to happiness. 

Bevy: Yeah. I mean, you know, listen, I’m in full support of people getting married. At this point in my life, I don’t think I need to get married because I’m not going to have children. And I think a lot of marriage does still tie into children and things like that. 

But for me, I really do believe that we have to fix the narrative around relationships, especially,

as it pertains to a women’s part of it. 

Men, as we all know, are looked upon as dazzling bachelors if they’re 50-years-old and single. A woman is 50 and single and has everything together in a life. (I’m saying that in quote fingers) –she’s got the successful career, she looks good, she’s got a great family life, all these things. But still people will hold up her not being married as a character flaw.  

We women can change that narrative because we’re the hardest on ourselves and on each other.

And so if we can do the work on ourselves to understand that, like yes,in my book, I have a very specific chapter called “Manhunt” where I  talk about my bad relationships but also end the chapter with a vision board wish for my man, what I’d like him to show up as, qualities, attributes and things like that. 

I want to be in something like that. It is my desire. I will be in a big, monumental, loving relationship. But until then, I’m not going to hide underneath a rock and cry myself to sleep every night because I have way too much good in my life and way too many blessings.

My glass is certainly not half empty, and I wouldn’t even say it’s half full. I would say it’s three quarters full. My life is cake and my man will come along and he will put some icing on it. And we all know cake without icing is very tasty. Icing is sweet but sometimes the icing can make it too damn sweet. 

 

MadameNoire: Or nasty!

Bevy: Or nasty, exactly. 

I think that those are things that women have to start shifting the way we think.What’s so interesting to me about that whole pursuit of marriage thing is we all know so many people that are married and miserable or we all know people that got married and are now divorced. So clearly marriage is not the cure. 

But we just don’t accept that. We still buy into the fairy tale and the lies that have been put out there that  someone comes along on a white horse or inn the white Rolls Royce and they swoop in and save us. They make it all better.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have an amazing relationship. It doesn’t mean you can get married to some great person and have the life that you always dreamed of. But it just means that it’s not gonna be some fairytale. 

 

MadameNoire: And if you’re expecting that person to save you, you’re setting  yourself up to be disappointed.

And then lastly, you know, when you write a book, it’s kind of like leaving a legacy for future generations to see and be inspired by. So what would you say you want your legacy to be? Not that you’re going anywhere anytime soon but how do you want to be remembered? 

 

Bevy: I wrote this book because I know in my spirit that I’m a guide and I’m a teacher, and that’s how I want to be remembered. It’s made me so happy throughout this press tour, when so many people came on DJ D Nice’s Instagram Live and talked about how I helped them and connected the dots. Pharrell came on and said I connected the dots for him. And Laverne Cox spoke about how gracious I was when she was just starting out on “Orange is the New Black.”  

Various people saying a lot of the same things, ‘Bevy helped me. Bevy walked me into this meeting…” 

And that makes me feel really good. Which leads me to something that I want to do, that I’m going to do. I’m going to create a fairy godmother show that is like “Shark Tank” meets “Fix My Life.” It’s all about me helping people facilitate their career dreams and goals.

 

MadameNoire: I can see that. 

Bevy: Yeah, that’s what I’m going to do. 

 

Bevelations: Lessons from a Mutha, Auntie, Bestie is available everywhere books are sold.

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