It was October 2012 when I first met La La Anthony. She hosted a fan appreciation dinner on “La La’s Full Court Life” a reality show that documented her life as a mother to now 12-year-old son Kiyan Carmelo Anthony, wife to NBA star Carmelo Anthony, friend, and entrepreneur.
La La created a call-to-action where her fans had to write a letter about what and who inspires you.
Twenty-one-year-old me wrote about the two things that very much still inspire me to this day: swimming and the Black community. I wrote about how my swim coaches not only re-taught me how to swim in college but mentored me into becoming a swim coach. At this dinner, I met other amazing women who, like me, were passionate about their community and making an impact.
Now, seven years later, La La and I meet again. Mid-interview I remind La La of our first encounter.
“It’s interesting to see now how our paths crossed again,” she said enthusiastically. This time it’s over the phone discussing La La’s character Lakeisha Grant, and the unexpected plot twist on the Starz hit show Power. Yes, there are spoilers ahead.
Take a quick snapshot of La La’s career and all of her accomplishments and you’ll see that anything she sets her mind to, she will not only accomplish it, but blow it out of the water.
La La is a number one New York Times best-selling author for her book The Love Playbook: Rules for Love, Sex, and Happiness, which led her to write the sequel The Power Playbook: Rules for Independence, Money and Success. She’s an entrepreneur who has her own cosmetics line Motives by La La, a collection with plus-size retailer Ashley Stewart and her own collection called the La La Anthony Collection.
As an actress, she’s been seen on the silver screen for her work in Think Like a Man and Think Like a Man, Too, BET’s The New Edition Story as Flo DeVoe, Chi-Raq, November Rule and Netflix’s Holiday Rush set to come out this fall. Now, she’s throwing her hat in the producer ring working with Queen Latifah to turn her first book into a movie.
Read below as we dive into La La’s leadership style, the detriments of being multi-passionate and most importantly what being creative in today’s culture means to her.
Her Agenda: I saw the episode yesterday [where your character was killed] and literally I’m like, go figure that I’m interviewing La La right after her character dies on the show. This interview is going to be real good.
La La Anthony: It’s been a crazy night and a crazy day. I mean, the feedback and the responses are unreal everywhere I go. From social media and just walking around the city, it’s been really wild.
Her Agenda: I’m sure. Tell me about that a little bit. Were you expecting, Keisha’s character to be killed by her own best friend? What were your thoughts when you read the script?
La La Anthony: We talked about it during the season that her character was going to die. So I knew it was happening, but it’s emotional. I’ve been a part of that show from season one, episode one, and now it’s the end. I did always say, if my character was going to go out, I want her to go out with a bang. Literally, I wanted it to be a moment that people are gonna talk about it, and it definitely was that. So I’m really proud of the character. And the responses are so crazy. It just shows how much people were invested in Power and invested in my character. That means a lot to me because people really wanted to see what happened to her. And people are really hurt. Like today, people were crying and like, this is so wild. But, it makes me feel so good that people were so invested.
Everything has a way of working itself out.
Her Agenda: What are some of the parallels between you and your character Lakeisha?
La La Anthony: In the end, she made a choice to put her son first. She thought they were going to take her son, which is why she signed those papers. And as a mom, you’ll always put your son or your child first. I was on The Breakfast Club this morning and they asked me a question, I was like “…if it’s between my kid and snitching. I’m snitching on everybody.” So it’s the same with Lakeisha and when she was protecting her son, Cash. And Cash and Kiyan are almost the same age. So there were so many similarities with them. I just drew off of that for the character and just the power of being a mom and being protective of your child.
Her Agenda: I tell people all the time if there was a career I’d like to emulate it would be yours or Queen Latifah’s because you both had a really smooth transition between industries. What were the challenges and advantages you think when it came to transitioning from working in media to becoming an actress and an entrepreneur?
La La Anthony: People love to put you in a box. I started on the radio, then I was a TV personality and people sometimes only want to see you as that. And I had to fight really hard to be seen as an entrepreneur and actor, a producer, a New York Times best-selling author. People want to keep you in one lane, and I’m not a fan of that. Why can’t you do different things and be great at different things? I’m not going to allow myself or anyone else to put me in a box. That’s been my motivation through it all.
People love to put you in a box.
And the benefit is that I’ve seen the industry through all sides. I’ve been on the side, you’re on now, the radio side, TV side, and now on the other side as an actor and a producer. So I’m able to see it through many different lenses in a lot of people can’t do that.
Her Agenda: What was the first step you took when you wanted to go into acting?
La La Anthony: I always had an interest in acting. I just thought that wasn’t my path and I was kind of like, “why can’t I do it?” Other people are doing it, why can’t I? So I started taking acting classes and going to acting school and just learning it. And I still do that. Acting is not something you ever master. It’s a constant learning process. I’m still doing that. And when the opportunity presented itself, I was ready for the opportunity.
It started with Think Like A Man and then Power. And now I’m with The Chi with Lena Waithe. Before the opportunity came, I was in classes. I was really working on the craft, understanding it and learning it. So when the opportunity came to audition for Think Like A Man, Power or The Chi, I felt like I was ready. You ask for these opportunities, but you have to be ready when you get them.
You ask for these opportunities, but you have to be ready when you get them.
Her Agenda: Right! What role really helped you become a better actress and challenged you?
La La Anthony: I would say Power because that’s the longest role I’ve ever done. I was on there for six seasons. And being surrounded by, Omari (Hardwick) and Naturi (Naughton) and Joseph Sikora who are all such amazingly talented and strong actors, you’re forced to grow and forced to step it up and get better. And they’ve taught me so much season after season, episode after episode. So it was a challenge at first because it was something new for me. Over the years I learned so much and I feel like I’ve come out of the Power world as a better actor, a better person, and I’m really excited and ready for whatever the next one is.
Our stories are so powerful.
Her Agenda: What is something that you would hope the audience and fans of the show would take from LaKeisha’s character?
La La Anthony: I think she was loyal. You know, everyone says she was ride or die or she’s loyal. She did put her child first. I say it as women sometimes we allow love to make us crazy. She started getting involved in the drug game because she wants to be with Tommy to the point where she put her life and her son’s life at risk. I would never advise anyone to do that, but it’s just that love makes you do crazy things. We as women tend to go to extreme lengths. She just wanted to be loved and just wanted this perfect kind of family and, and it didn’t happen.
Her Agenda: As an entrepreneur, you have your cosmetics line Motives by La La, your denim collection, and your production company. Tell me what’s your leadership style?
La La Anthony: My website just launched and I’m really excited for that. It’s LALAAnthonycollection.com and we have something for all sizes. It was very important to me that the clothing line to include all women in all sizes and shows diversity in my clothes.
I like to lead by example. I’m a very humble person. I work really, really hard and never forget where I came from. My mom always said to treat people how you want to be treated. And it’s so true. I keep that in mind and it sounds so simple. I treat people well, but I show them my work ethic and I hope that my work ethic pushes the people who work for me to work just as hard.
I treat people well, but I show them my work ethic and I hope that my work ethic pushes the people who work for me to work just as hard.
Her Agenda: Now, do you have any plans for your production company? I do recall you and Queen Latifah were thinking about making a movie from your book “The Love Playbook.” Where are you with that?
La La Anthony: Yeah, so we’re still working on that. “The Love Playbook” and also 50 Cent and I have produced a show called “Intercepted.” We’re working on that as well. That’s moving pretty fast. I do want to start writing my third book. I had “The Love Playbook” and “The Power Playbook,” and I want to start on a third book. And I’ve been in Chicago right now filming The Chi season three which will come out next year. So I’ve just been working on that and adapting to a new show and a new environment and it’s been really cool.
Her Agenda: Now for Her Agenda we’re all about encouraging millennial women, helping them bridge the gap between ambition and achievement. What’s a quote that motivates you day in and day out?
La La Anthony: My dad always tells me “Love yourself from the inside out” and that’s just what it is for me. It starts with self-love. I think we live in a world where we’re always looking for validation from other people around us and we forget to love ourselves. How you feel about yourself is all that really matters. So that quote has stuck with me for many, many years, just constantly reminding myself to love myself from the inside out and put me first.
My dad always tells me “Love yourself from the inside out” and that’s just what it is for me. It starts with self love. I think we live in a world where we’re always looking for validation from other people around us and we forget to love ourselves
Her Agenda: Now we see a lot of Black creatives are thriving. We see Tyler Perry, Ava DuVernay. It’s not so much a question, but what are your thoughts of being a Black creative and making sure they’re getting their worth in this challenging industry that doesn’t really pay us that much.
La La Anthony: No one could tell our story the way we tell it. So it’s all about supporting each other, uplifting each other and demanding that our stories are heard. It’s important. And you’ve seen so much amazing content put out by our people that it’s fascinating to watch, which is why getting on The Chi with Lena Waithe is an honor to me. Working on Power with Courtney Kemp, who’s another African-American female showrunner. I was looking at Hollywood’s top 50 showrunners and Courtney and Lena were on there and I was like, how amazing is it that I can be a person that worked with both of them who are bringing great content that speaks to us. Our stories are so powerful.
How you feel about yourself is all that really matters
Her Agenda: It’s amazing. It’s great, I feel like we’re in a Renaissance really.
La La Anthony: And, I’m happy to be a part of it.
No one could tell our story the way we tell it. So it’s all about supporting each other, uplifting each other and demanding that our stories are heard. It’s important.
Her Agenda: How do you handle rejection? What’s your advice for young, up and coming actresses who want to be like you?
La La Anthony: Well, rejection comes with it. You’re always going to get no, sometimes it’s six, 10 no’s, 20 no’s, 30 no’s to get that one yes. It’s going to make that one yes even better. You have to keep working hard. Don’t let it mess with you and understand what’s for you is for you. It’s not meant for anybody else. If you didn’t get a role, it was not meant for you. Something else is coming for you. And I just remind myself of that. And so I tell people that all the time, it takes a bunch of no’s to get to a yes. You have to be willing to fight through it.
It takes a bunch of no’s to get to a yes. You have to be willing to fight through it.
Her Agenda: Yeah. Have you ever experienced [getting rejected] where it actually worked out in your favor?
La La Anthony: I auditioned for something right before Power. It was a big show and I made it to the final round. And I thought I was going to get it. And I got the call that it wasn’t going any further. I was devastated because I was so close. And then two weeks later I ended up booking Power and look at the type of show Power became and everything that’s come along with this experience. Everything has a way of working itself out.