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During the Circle of Sisters event held by WBLS, WLIB and Hot 97 this past weekend, I had the chance to sit down with one of my favorite actresses. Paula Jai Parker is stepping back into the spotlight with the TV One reality show “Hollywood Divas” after taking a break of sorts for five years. When I talked to the lovely actress, we chatted about the 20th anniversary of Friday, which was her first film, why she decided to do reality TV, what she learned about herself while doing it, and feeling blackballed by the industry.

What She Thinks About Friday All These Years Later:

You know that movie was 20 years ago!? They just had the 20-year anniversary of Friday in LA at the Los Angeles Film Festival. So it bugs me out! That was my first movie and that’s the one that everyone always remembers. That’s the one. It was one of the funnest experiences I ever had on a film. Nia [Long] is my girl, so it was like working with your girlfriends. I had the same kind of fun on Hustle & Flow, but with this one, it was different because it was like a block party. The whole shooting took place on the street basically. We’d shut down the street and party for real. It would be so many rappers there, and just because they were all together they would just start rhyming! So it was just unforgettable. It was a great experience. For it to have been my first film, I was very lucky. I expected them all to be like that…and they’re not.

The Difference Between “Black Films” And “White Films”:

I do enjoy doing predominately black film because it’s fun. But I like doing white films because it’s money. So, there you have it [laughs]!

Why She Decided To Do “Hollywood Divas”:

Reality TV kind of chose me, I didn’t choose reality TV. I had a baby and I was out of the game for five years and during that time, Hollywood forgot about me. My manager and my agent, they both dropped me. Hollywood has no empathy for pregnancy. If you get pregnant, it’s like you’re sick. It’s like you have a disease, unless you get pregnant by Will Smith. And I didn’t marry Will Smith, Jada did, and that’s my girl! But I couldn’t really find work. I wanted to use reality TV as a platform to diversify my talents. I’m a director. Because I couldn’t find work, I started directing a lot more and I realized I’m good at it. So, when I had this opportunity to do this show, I took it and ran. I brought my girls–they asked me who I wanted and I suggested some people, and they chose everybody I would have wanted. They were my first choices. And we got to create our own project. So it’s really given us all a platform to become producers. My husband is the writer of our project so it’s gotten him in the game.

What She Learned About Herself By Doing The Reality Show:

It made me grow as a woman because it forced me to tackle issues within my family, as well as within Hollywood. For me, I don’t talk. If somebody pisses me off, I’m over it. I’m done with you and I move on with my life. I don’t have to talk about it. I don’t have to explain myself and you don’t have to explain yourself. I’m just over it. But this situation forced me to deal with problems within my family; to communicate with the ladies–things that I don’t do. There was nowhere to run, so we had to tackle them. It made us stronger as women. It made our bond stronger. My mother and my husband get along better now than they ever have in the last 10 years, thanks to reality TV. It’s weird, because they put a spotlight on your issues, and me, personally, I don’t do that. I run. I don’t deal. I deal within and that’s me dealing. But this forced me to confront and be confronted and stay in the moment and deal.

After Saying She Was Homeless In Episode 1 Of “Hollywood Divas,” Are Things Looking Up?

Yes! Thank you for asking. One thing I had heard about reality TV is that they buy you houses. So, they put us in a home. They put my family in a home…so, yeah…don’t make me cry! It’s still really sensitive for me. It’s hard out here!


If you’re interested in learning more about Paula’s story, and that of the other stars of the show, check out the premiere of “Hollywood Divas” tonight at 10 p.m. (EST) on TV One. And you can check out the first five minutes, which deals with Paula’s problems, below:


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