Positively Paula


Published:

I'm a very blessed girl,” said Southern chef and television personality Paula Deen, recounting her rags to riches fairytale. (And, yes, she calls herself a “girl.”) During her 70 years, she’s endured multiple peaks and valleys, most recently the challenges that she faced in 2013. “How did it feel to take time off a few years ago?” I asked. “I never left!” Paula replied.

She lost her parents early on. Raised two sons and a younger brother while suffering from agoraphobia.

“I was so fearful of something happening to somebody else I loved that I couldn’t live my life,” she explained during a recent interview at her Wilmington Island home. “I let it cripple me for 20 years.” She recalls the precise moment, however, when everything changed.   

 

“I’VE ALWAYS BEEN ONE TO LAUGH AT MYSELF, BUT I REALIZE NOT EVERYBODY IS LIKE THAT.”

“I got up one morning and it was like I flicked on a light switch. The Serenity Prayer went through my head. And it was like I’d heard it for the very first time, God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage the change the things that I can, and please God, give me the wisdom to know the difference. I started getting better. And I asked myself, ‘Paula, honey, what are you good at? You can’t sing or dance.”’ Paula cackles when I remind her she survived five rounds on Dancing With the Stars in 2015.

But she considered herself a good cook. So she took her last $200, bought a business license, a cooler, $50 worth of groceries, and sold sandwiches.

“In the South that’s how we always showed our love for each other,” Paula said. “You might not be able to afford the number-one toy, but you do have the ability to feed your family a delicious meal.”

Two and a half decades later, Deen oversaw an empire focused on Southern cooking and hospitality. And then, the unexpected happened. An employee (who happens to be Caucasian) added Paula to a lawsuit. Deen admitted she’d once used a racially charged ethnic term decades ago, though not to demean. The lawsuit was dismissed, but the damage was done. And Paula’s honesty cost her some opportunities.

But cookbook sales soared. Her furniture and pots and pans continued selling. Former President Carter vouched for the girl he knows. Four years later, it’s as if Paula never left the spotlight. She’s opened four new restaurants, launched two television shows, and her 18th book, At the Southern Table with Paula Deen, debuted in September.   

“Positively Paula was started to fulfill a need,” she said, describing her syndicated TV series. “I’ve got millions of people on Facebook saying, ‘Do a show, we miss you.’ What you see is actually in real time. It’s very simple. This is what I’ve cooked, here it is, and we’re eating it. People are enjoying it because they’re just getting me in the kitchen with them. You never know who you’re touching out there, how a simple smile or little joke can lift their spirits.”

No matter how fast-paced our lives have become, Paula remains a big advocate of family mealtime. “We’re all time deprived,” she pointed out. “But I’ve found you get your children in a relaxed situation, they have a tendency to talk to you.”

Shop-at-home network Evine carries Paula’s other show, Sweet Home Savannah, where Paula sells various product lines, including clothing, jewelry, and appliances. She especially loves her air fryer, which she demonstrates for me. “No oil whatsoever,” she said. “I’ve always been the kind that if I had something people would like, I want them to have it, too. It’s real important to me that I bring value to my audience. I can’t stand the idea of gouging somebody.”

Her shows are unscripted. But Paula’s more comfortable laughing and interacting with people in the moment. Besides she can’t remember lines. “I’ve always been one to laugh at myself,” she says.

To read more, subscribe now or pick up the October/November issue of South magazine.  

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Greatest Professional Photographers 2020

Calling South’s Greatest Photographers! Are you a professional photographer with beautiful work? Enter South’s Greatest Photographers 2020!

Greatest Amateur Photographers 2020

Calling South’s Greatest Photographers! Are you passionate about capturing life through a lens? Enter South’s Greatest Photographers 2020!
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Events Calendar

  • Volunteers needed for The Salvation Army

    Nov 14, 2019
    9:00 AM - 12:00 PM @ Salvation Army

    The Salvation Army Savannah is kicking off their annual holiday season Red Kettle Campaign on November 14, 2019. They announced an ambitious...

  • “Summon the Sea! Contemporary Artists and Moby Dick” Exhibition

    Oct 11, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Summon the Sea! Contemporary Artists and Moby Dick examines the work of six contemporary artists—Corey Arnold, Guy Ben-Ner, Patty Chang, Tristin...

  • Savannah Philharmonic Chorus Auditions

    Sep 07, 2019
    10:00 AM - 2:00 PM @ Collegiate Church of St. Paul the Apostle

    The Savannah Philharmonic is holding auditions throughout the year for singers to have the opportunity to join the Chorus for the exciting...

  • SS Savannah (1819-2019)

    May 23, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Ships of the Sea Museum

    2019 marks the 200th anniversary of the SS Savannah's groundbreaking trans-Atlantic crossing.  In recognition of this monumental achievement,...

  • Savannah Philharmonic Chorus Auditions

    Sep 07, 2019
    10:00 AM - 2:00 PM @ Collegiate Church of St. Paul the Apostle

    The Savannah Philharmonic is holding auditions throughout the year for singers to have the opportunity to join the Chorus for the exciting...

  • Greenbriar Gift Wrap Center

    Dec 10, 2019
    12:00 AM - 9:00 AM @ Ogelthorpe Mall

     Once again, Greenbriar Children’s Center will celebrate the holiday season with the opening of the Gift Wrap Center and annual Celebrity wRap...

  • 2019 Holiday Artist Collective

    Nov 21, 2019
    4:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Deep South Photopoint

    An upscale, holiday art market featuring one-of-a-kind collectibles, original paintings, genuine photographs, fine art prints and gifts created...

  • A Carpenter's Christmas

    Dec 13, 2019
    8:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    While The Carpenters are known for over a dozen chart-topping hits, they also won over their fans with their Christmas celebrations. And that’s...

  • Forsyth Farmer's Market

    Jun 29, 2019
    9:00 AM - 1:00 PM @ South end of Forsyth Park

    The Forsyth Farmers’ Market vendors offer a variety of local goods including seasonal produce, eggs, honey, pastured meat, bread, cheese,...

  • Historic Beaufort Candlelight Homes Tour

    Dec 14, 2019
    5:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Beaufort Historic Site

    Tour private homes in Beaufort and ride on the double-decker bus with carolers from local churches.  Homeowners will open their doors so that...

  • Cirque du Canines

    Dec 15, 2019
    3:00 PM - 5:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    Step right up, ladies and gents! Cirque du Canines, the Dog Circus, comes to the Tybee Post Theater stage.  Featuring fantastic dog tricks,...

  • Salvation Army Red Kettle Community Concert

    Dec 19, 2019
    6:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Georgia State Railroad Museum

    The Salvation Army Savannah is continuing the celebration of their annual holiday season Red Kettle Campaign with a community concert. At this...

  • App Ski’s New Year’s Eve Extravaganza

    Dec 31, 2019
    9:00 PM - 12:00 AM @ Appalachian Ski Mountain

    Annual celebration with fireworks, torchlight skiing, moonlight ice skating, and festive restaurant specials. Ski/ride tickets required for slope...

  • First Fridays in Starland

    Jun 07, 2019
    6:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Starland District

    First Fridays in Starland celebrates local business, art, and food in Savannah’s coolest neighborhood! Join us every First Friday of the...

  • 14th Annual MLK Youth Parade In Midtown Houston

    Jan 18, 2020
    12:00 PM - 1:30 PM @ Midtown

    The MLK Youth Parade In Midtown Houston Will Kick-off The 2020 MLK Holiday Weekend. Learn More @ www.mlkgrandeparade.org

  • 19th Annual MLK Battle Of The Bands Competition Houston

    Jan 19, 2020
    3:00 PM - 7:00 PM @ W.W. Thorne Stadium

    The MLK Battle Of The Bands Competition Houston Is One Of The Largest High School Marching Band Competitions In The U.S. Featuring Award Winning...

  • 26th Annual MLK Grande Parade In Midtown Houston

    Jan 20, 2020
    10:00 AM - 12:00 PM @ Midtown

    The MLK Grande Parade Is One Of The Largest Single Day Multicultural Events In The U.S. That is Held In Honor Of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • Blowing Rock WinterFest

    Jan 23, 2020
    10:00 AM - 9:00 PM @ Downtown Blowing Rock

    Don’t hibernate-celebrate! Join us for the fun side of winter with events like the Polar Bear Plunge, WinterFeast, WinterPaws Dog Show,...

  • Mountainfilm on Tour - Savannah

    Jan 23, 2020
    7:00 PM - 10:30 PM @ Trustees Theater

    Mountainfilm on Tour - Savannah returns for its 11th annual film festival on January 23-25, 2020.  Please plan to join us for a weekend of...

  • Carolina Chocolate Festival

    Feb 01, 2020
    9:00 AM - 6:00 PM @ Crystal Coast Civic Center

    Chocolate lovers indulge! The annual Carolina Chocolate Festival takes place at the Crystal Coast Civic Center in Morehead City and is packed with...


Show More...

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Scenes of the South

14th Annual Pearls to Pluff Mud Fundraiser

The 14th Annual Pearls to Pluff Mud Fundraiser was held on Friday, November 1st at the Swamp Fox Farms. Guests enjoyed listening to the Fabulous Equinox Orchestra while tasting New Orleans themed dishes. There was a silent and live auction held to raise money for the Focus Fund Campaign for the Cross Schools in Bluffton, SC.

Brews for a Cause November at Savannah Octane Bar

South magazine in collaboration with Southern Eagle Distributing hosted the last Brews for a Cause of 2019 at the Savannah Octane Bar on Thursday, November 21 in a successful effort to raise money and awareness for Georgia Police K9 Foundation. The night featured tasty chicken appetizers catered by Himalayan Curry Kitchen, and special brews from Wicked Weed and Monday Night Brewing provided by Southern Eagle. These events provide good food, fun entertainment, refreshing drinks and most importantly – raise money for a great cause! Be sure to be on the lookout for our next Brews in January!

6th Annual First Responders Luncheon

Harris Lowry Manton LLC hosted its 6th Annual First Responder Appreciation Luncheon on Monday, Oct. 28 at Daffin Park. Free lunch was offered as a “thank you” to local paramedics, firefights, police officers and emergency medical responders.

DineSouth's VIP Icebox

DineSouth 2019 VIP room sponsored by IceBound was a hit at this year’s event! With a special performance by Ken Roy, guests enjoyed exclusive vendors such as sushi from Rue de Jean and popsicles from Savannah Square Pops. Made complete with a full-serve bar, the VIP room was chillingly spectacular!

Inside the Best of DineSouth 2019

DineSouth 2019 was a huge hit - by far one of our best ever! Thank you to all of our vendors, sponsors, entertainers and patrons. The Equinox All Stars rolled us into the night with fabulous tunes while Savannah for Morons and The Stardust Pixies treated guests with show-stopping amusement. Hunter Cattle came through with bells, livestock and a petting zoo. But of course, the event was topped off with some of the best flavors Savannah has to offer followed by mouthwatering cocktails. It was a night to remember, and we couldn’t have pulled it off without our amazing clients, supporters and staff. Thank you to Savannah Station and Events Work for helping us pull off anything great year. See y’all next time!

Anne Pappas Grand Opening

Anne Pappas Interiors celebrated the Grand Opening of their new full-service design studio and showroom at 101 W. Liberty St. in the heart of Savannah’s National Historic Landmark District, on Thursday, Oct. 10. “This inspiring space will allow our talented team of designers to provide exceptional creative services to clientele who appreciate the art of design,” said Pappas. A member of Coastal Living and Southern Living’s exclusive Designer Network, Pappas offers a fresh, inspired approach to interior design, incorporating a variety of textures and design elements inspired by nature, travel and global style. Pappas and her team welcomed guests with light hors d’oeuvres and cocktails at the event.

Savannah Film Alliance Honors Gala

Glitz and glamour were galore at the Savannah Film Alliance Honors Gala celebrating the Savannah Entertainment Industry as Charles (Bo) Bowen and his team orchestrated the event of the year. The night was unforgettable for all, but even more so for many hard-working and deserving individuals who were recognized for their contributions to the local film and television industry

Bitty and Beau's at Kendra Scott

Kendra Scott gives back with Bitty & Beau’s Saturday, Sept. 28. Kendra Scott gave 20% the proceeds of their sales from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to Bitty & Beau’s Coffee. Bitty & Beau’s, which aims to provide jobs and change the way people see those with special needs and disabilities, provided muffins and coffee.

Brews for a Cause September at Mansion on Forsyth

South magazine in collaboration with Southern Eagle hosted Brews for a Cause at Casimir’s Lounge at the Mansion on Forsyth Park on Thursday, Sept. 26 in a successful effort to raise money and awareness for CURE Childhood Cancer.

Savannah Hospice Gala

Hospice Savannah celebrated 40 years of the “Art of Living” at the Landings Plantation Ballroom on Thursday, Sept. 25.