COCOBELLE OF THE MONTH: TONYA LEWIS LEE

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Tonya Lewis Lee can’t be a better example of woman who goes after her passions in life. When it comes to her family and career, Lee is truly a woman who goes after what she wants. In addition to her entrepreneurial spirit, Lee has also found time to help women live their best lives. We were so impressed with Tonya after introducing Movita Organics, we wanted to know more about this multi-talented woman who is as much outspoken about women’s issues, as she is creative. Read all about how this film & TV producer, author, women’s advocate, and entrepreneur attributes her success to overcoming some of her biggest challenges.
Many know you as the wife of the legendary film director, producer, writer and, actor Spike Lee, but many of them don’t know that you are a multitalented entrepreneur in your own right. What part(s) of your career are you most passionate about?

I love creating and I love the idea of putting positive energy into the ether, whether it is writing a book, producing a movie or creating a consumer product, the point is to inspire positive change in the world.

What inspired your transition from a corporate attorney to a creative TV executive?

I always wanted to be a television producer, but when I graduated from college I did not know how to access that life and my parents were more inclined for me to get my graduate degree in business or law so I went to law school. But when Spike and I got married, he encouraged me to pursue my creative endeavors.

What challenges did you face with the transition and how did you over come them?

Some of the biggest challenges were my own self-doubt. So, I spent a lot of time working on my writing before showing anyone and showed up to the page day after day after day even when it was not very good.

What advice can you give other women who aspire to make career transitions from the corporate world to the creative world?

The best advice I could give to start working on your passion while you are still in your corporate job. Put aside a couple of hours every day to work on what you hope will be your craft. The time does not have to consecutive, but you have to devote time to work, exercise the muscle before you share with the world.

What have you learned early in your career as a corporate attorney that has helped you today?

The discipline of a legal education and practice are invaluable. The ability to research and to think through a problem from every angle is something that frustrates people about me. However, I can also see the good and bad side of a problem, which is always helpful because being an entrepreneur, is all about problem solving.

What was your inspiration behind creating Healthy You Now?

For almost 10 years, I was the spokesperson for an infant mortality awareness raising campaign in the United States. I traveled the country speaking to women and experts in women’s and infant’s health learning about what it means to be a healthy nation. What I discovered is that when you speak of an infant’s health, you
are really speaking of women’s health. I wanted to get the wealth of knowledge I was learning out to a broader audience to help women access and exercise their best healthy lives for the best health outcomes for our communities.

 

 

We are happy to have Movita in our Mega Beauty Box Spring 2018 Edition. What inspired you to create your own line of supplements?

After creating Healthy You Now as a content site, we wanted to also provide tools to help women live their best lives. An organic vitamin supplement that could be taken once a day seemed like a great way to make sure women had their baseline nutrition. I also believe by taking the one-day Movita tablet with a full glass of water a woman is starting her day making good choice for her health that will hopefully lead to a full day of good choices.

Congratulations on the renewal for second season on the Netflix series She’s Gotta Have It.

Thank you! We are very excited about the second season and can’t wait to see where Nola goes from her Thanksgiving celebration!

In what ways do you think today’s version relates to real life as opposed to the original classic screenplay did?

She’s Gotta Have It in 1986 and today is about the journey of a young woman who is an artist. There are not enough stories about black women of any age and so watching Nola navigate her friendships, work life and love life is relevant at any point in time. This time around, however, we get to delve a little deeper into the issues of life that surround her, like gentrification.

Married for almost 25 years to a man who is just as involved in his career as you, what are your secretes to success for a happy family?

While we have from time to time been more of an open book than others, I think we have enjoyed keeping our marriage to ourselves…marriage isn’t easy, but ultimately it is worth it…just like everything else in life worth having…you’ve got to work at it.

With all that you do, mother, wife, writer, producer and wellness advocate, how do you find time to create your balance?

Ha! Today, I’m not sure that I do create a balance…but I will say that life has stages and phases…. when my children were young and under my constant care they were my first priority and I have zero regrets about that. Now that they are grown, my health and work are my priorities…so I guess the key is to prioritize.

Who inspires you?

I am inspired by my resilient, powerful ancestors. If it were not for them dreaming of the future, fighting for what they believed in and having a real sense of values and conviction, I would not be here. They set the bar high…I hope I keep progressing the way the have.

What are you most grateful for?

I am most grateful for my health and the incredible family that I have.

What are the top three products in your Ultimate Beauty Arsenal – that you can’t live without?

My running shoes, good skin starts with a good work out regime. I love Crème de la Mer. It’s expensive, but worth it. And then there’s Jane Carter Solution Nourish and Shine, it’s really moisturizing.

What’s next for Tonya?

My plan is to develop more products to help women live a healthy lifestyle that gives them the energy to live out their purpose and I intend to keep writing and producing stories for all ages that inspire a love of humanity.

 
To keep up with Tonya, you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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