With just days ahead of her network launch, Paula Deen opened up about the racial slur (N-word) that nearly destroyed her cooking empire. Deen even dished on how the scandal nearly brought back struggles with a worrisome anxiety disorder, according to RadarOnline.
Deen sat down with Entertainment Tonight‘s host Nancy O’Dell. Flanked by her sons, Jamie and Bobby, Paula talked about her illustrious career before and after she was mired by allegations of racism. It was painful, but she admitted the media circus surrounding the particular event put a damper in her cooking brand for some time.
“My darkest moment was when I had to face the fact that I had hurt people.”
Deen took O’Dell back to the painful time when she not only had to fend off rumors that characterized her as a bigot. The self-styled Southern cooking queen had to face the reality her business partners were backtracking and turning their backs on her.
“I know that when you lose a family member that there’s certain emotions you’re going to go through: loneliness, sadness, self-pity certainly is one of them, desertion is one of them, fear is another one…You got to experience all of those emotions. I had to give a very heartfelt, ‘I’m sorry, I’m so sorry’ and then I had to forgive myself. When I did that, then I could get in the wagon and we could all move forward.”
Last year, Paula Deen was accused of using a racial slur. A former manager alleged that Deen spoke about using the N-word decades ago when she was a banking teller. The rumors swirled on the internet, and Paula admitted to using the derogatory word during a deposition, but it was a response to a terrifying moment: she was being robbed and that is how she described the suspect under duress.
However, more information surfaced about Deen making her African-American employees dress up as slaves during a party, to which she downplayed as friends having fun.
Despite a tearful interview Deen gave to Today, in which she made pleas for forgiveness, many didn’t buy it, and in the end, many, if not all, of her sponsors, including the Food Network, dropped her. It signaled an end to her television presence.
Moreover, her popular restaurant in Georgia was forced to shutter and longtime employees found themselves suddenly unemployed, and without advance notice. Paula compared the racial slur scandal to a “death in the family.”
Paula Deen recently bought back the online digital-distribution rights to all of her shows from Food Network for an undisclosed sum. However, according to Variety, the cable network was not using any of the hundreds of episodes, nor was there any future plans to air them.
As bubbly as Deen appeared on TV, it is hard to believe she struggled with agoraphobia, a form of generalized anxiety disorder. Apparently, she fought it for decades before bringing it under control, to some degree.
“It got bad. I went on a 20-year ride with agoraphobia, from the time I was 20 to the time I was 40. I knew that if I was not careful, that I could slip right back into that.”
The future, while not quite like it was at its peak for Paula, looks good for the twangy-talking chef. On September 24, Paula Deen Ventures launches online in partnership with Scripps Networks Interactive. The subscription-based shows will feature Deen in Paula’s Party, Paula’s Home Cooking and Paula’s Best Dishes, using some 440 episodes from the FN catalog.
Paula Deen is optimistic that the racial slur controversy is behind her, and to her credit, America has a way of forgiving.
[Image via: Today]