A multi-hyphenate in the truest sense, Fox News Channel contributor Eboni K. Williams can now add author to her notable resume. Williams, co-host of “The Specialists” on the network, has penned Pretty Powerful: Appearance, Substance, and Success. Her broadcast career has spanned not only Fox News Channel, but also CBS News, HLN and radio. She followed her bachelor’s degrees in communications and African-American studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a law degree from the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. In Pretty Powerful, she calls upon her present and past experiences as a network television news personality, a law firm lawyer, a public defender, a beauty queen, a radio host, actress, model and daughter of an enterprising mother who raised her in poverty to keep a trained eye on her aesthetic and academic goals.
Recently, the Recorder spoke with Williams about her new literary endeavor.
Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper: What unique perspectives informed your writing?
Williams: I grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, the only child of a single mother, who eventually launched a small business. Although I grew up in poverty, my mother instilled the values of excellence and academic achievement in me. She taught me that my future as a young Black woman growing up in America was limitless. She ensured that I made the most of the best public education possible by way of a magnet program for academic, visual and performing arts. This foundation from my mother, coupled with my being recruited into the world of pageants, allowed me to cultivate from a very young age — when she dressed me for second and third grade in polo shirts and khakis — the personal marketing, branding and stage presence that matters from youth through adulthood.
Why this book, and why now?
This book has been in the works for three years. Over that period of time, it evolved. In reflecting upon stages of my life — pageants to law school to litigation to broadcast television — I noticed that I had often found myself conflicted. My instinct was to care about my appearance, but I also wanted to be taken seriously as a professional. This book speaks to women of any age who are reconciling how to present themselves to the world. It also sparks conversations about figuring out our comfort level with each other, addressing other women’s responses to us, the best ways to invite other women to embrace us as “women’s women” and facilitating sisterhood.
Discuss your decision to title the book Pretty Powerful.
To an extent, I have lived in dual worlds — only Black attorney in a predominantly-white law firm; public defender vs. law firm life; humble roots vs. pageant life — that allow me to be uniquely positioned to make the case that I make in this book. I understand the experience of an attractive, younger woman who is fighting to be taken seriously. This book combats the stigma of “pretty,” which is not a dirty word. But by “pretty,” I don’t mean beautiful in the narrow sense. I mean that “pretty” reflects the ability to choose how we will show up in this world. It’s about women being able to confidently and comfortably lean into their womanhood and femininity. We don’t have to run from appearance or to apologize because the way we look is being judged. Instead, we should be empowered. People will scrutinize and pick us apart. We must evolve and be empowered such that no patriarchal system, mainstream media or even other women can stop us. We can make investments in both appearance and professional ability, arriving at the formula that competence plus appearance equals ultimate power.
What can readers look forward to in this read? Which are your favorite chapters?
Some of my favorite chapters include my personal narrative regarding my mother and my upbringing; my analysis concerning issues of sexual harassment; and insights gained and shared from the experiences of O.J. Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark, Fox News Channel contributor Megan McCain and conservative commentators Dr. Monica Crawley and Judge Jeanine Pirro.
“Pretty Powerful: Appearance, Substance, and Success” is available for purchase now on Amazon.com.