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Balancing Family And Fame With Holly Robinson Peete

By Dontaira Terrell
Posted On Apr 07, 2016
Balancing Family And Fame With Holly Robinson Peete

Dedicated mother, multifaceted actress, devoted wife, committed philanthropist, and groundbreaking entrepreneur, Holly Robinson Peete is a dynamic force in Hollywood. With credits ranging from 21 Jump Street, Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, and Chicago Fire, her fearless versatility to captivate audiences through onscreen portrayals speak volumes directed toward her star quality and power. More recently, the veteran actress has embarked on a new reality of her very own. By allowing audiences to receive a glimpse into her remarkable brilliance as she balances the complexities of the many facets dealing with both her personal and professional lives. For Peete’s Sake airing on the OWN Network is not your typical drama-filled, reality series. Oppositely, it focuses on the day-to-day inspirational family journey of three generations who singlehandedly shatter any barriers or curveballs that life may throw their way.

However, one of the most admired acts of courage witnessed on the show are the Peete’s advocacy to shed light into the world of autism. Following the early diagnosis of their son RJ, both Holly and her husband Rodney began opening the gateway to a much needed conversation within today’s society by utilizing their platforms to educate, enlighten, and provide awareness surrounding autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Through their HollyRod foundation, they have implemented three successful programs including the Gift of Voice, RJ’s Place, and My Brother Charlie Family Fun Day in order to, “fill an unmet need by providing compassionate care and services to underserved individuals and families that are burdened financially and emotionally by a diagnosis.”

So, how would one sum up the makings of Holly Robinson Peete? Honestly, there are not enough words to describe her ingenuity for life. There are not any categories she can be placed in because Holly is in a league of her own. Try to box her in and she will defy the odds each and every time because of her limitless capabilities. It was a great pleasure to speak with the pioneering star as she discussed “Same but Different,” a joint book venture with her twins RJ and Ryan, ageless beauty secrets, and the Hollywood elite power couple’s first date nearly 20 years ago that have sent sparks flying ever since.

ArticlesquareNew You: In your new book “Same but Different” what is the biggest takeaway(s) you would like readers to gain? 

Holly Robinson Peete: That children with autism grow up, become teenagers and young adults. They need compassion, support, and jobs. All parents including myself, hope and pray that when we are gone people will be nice, compassionate, and understanding to our children. Unfortunately, children on the autism spectrum are not always able to receive that same kind of compassion. Therefore, I want people to know children who have autism grow up and they need to be advocated for by the community.

NY: Best piece of advice you can offer a parent who has a child that has been diagnosed with autism? 

HRP: It is important for parents to act proactively immediately. Although there will be a period of time that you will experience a form of denial or a sense of mourning because in a way it is similar to losing an expectation of a child. It is very devastating to receive the diagnosis because at the end of the day you truly do not know what to expect.

With that being said, it is okay to feel sorry for yourself but not for too long! You have to get up and get moving.  The sooner you immerse your child into therapies and interventions the better the chances are that they have the abilities to cope in this world.

NY: With raising your only daughter, how have you taught her to practice beauty from the inside out?

HRP: I have taught, and will continue to teach, her that number one she has to love herself, regardless of how cliché it may sound. Although we have all heard it a million times that beauty is not just about your outer appearance, it is definitely true. I know a lot of people are attractive on the outside but very ugly on the inside. When you are beautiful on the inside it emanates and it does not matter how you physically look.

Of course I always want her to upkeep her appearance but I never emphasize that beauty is solely physically appealing. It is about the elements at your core that make up who you are from within. It’s also about nurturing your soul and spirit to develop into a truly amazing young lady, especially living in this world today. There is such a standard of beauty to uphold and honestly, nobody can live up to the impossible standards of beauty we are privy to everywhere these days. Literally, everyone is touched up and flawless. The reality is, nobody can live up to that which is why it’s important to nurture beauty from the inside. 

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NY: In terms of legacy, what are three things you hope to have instilled in your children that can be passed down among generations?

HRP: The three things I hope my husband and I have instilled in our children are compassion, business acumen, and above all else maintaining a sense of integrity. 

NY: What are the necessary steps both you and your husband [Rodney Peete] take in order to make your marriage feel “alive” each day?

HRP: Oh girl, we have to be proactive and plan spontaneity! I know it does not sound sexy but you have to seriously plan because if you don’t, it won’t plan itself. This love thing is not effortless, it takes work and you both have to be in it to make it happen. It also involves a lot of focusing on each other and communication. The commitment and willingness to communicate with each other in a way that works well with the other person.

Photo Credit: Shutter Stock
Photo Credit: Shutter Stock

However, let me assure you the reward of it all, to have a life partner to build a legacy with and being with someone who has your back forever is irreplaceable. It takes work but honestly anything worth having always takes work and that’s a fact.  Nowadays, I believe in general, people want the relationship with all of the perks and not willing to put in the work but it just doesn’t come like that.

NY: Do you remember your first date? If so, what was it?

HRP: Oh yeah! We attended a wine tasting party and prior to that I had never attended one. At the time, I thought to myself, “OK this is a classy brother because he is taking me to a wine tasting,” (laughs). It was very impressive and I was really captivated by his swagger on our first date. The next time we did wine tasting was 20 years later on our 20th anniversary. We never went back until then, so much for that! (laughs).

NY: Shifting gears, what is a makeup tip, trick, or beauty secret you learned from your mother, that you apply to this day?

HRP: The first thing that comes to mind is to make sure you take off your makeup each night before you go to bed. When you go to sleep at night with your makeup on, it literally seeps into all of your pores. Makeup can be extremely toxic at times because it is not always natural. As a result, you have to be very careful about what products you use on your face. To achieve great skincare, healthcare, and well-being, that is one of the main reasons why it is imperative to take all of that makeup off as well as get your pores cleaned regularly.

NY: I feel so bad now! Yesterday I was beyond exhausted and I fell asleep with all of my makeup on.

HRP: (Laughs) Listen, I do it all of the time but I always pay for it in the end. My pores become clogged and pimples begin to emerge. I literally think to myself, “Ugh! Why didn’t I take this off?” But it happens, it’s life. When I am too tired, I can hear my mother’s voice in my head. That’s when I jump into motion and start cleansing my face to remove all of the days’ makeup.

NY: Being a working mother, wife, philanthropist, entrepreneur, author, and the list goes on. How do you balance the time to stay in shape? HRP: It is very, very hard to find the time to actually workout, head to the gym, or complete a spin class but I am active and always moving. When I wake up in the morning, life immediately starts moving and it’s difficult to carve in time to work out. I try to do what I can where I am able to kill two birds with one stone. Such as walking my dog, jumping on the trampoline with my son, or other creative ways that will help me get my sweat on. In a perfect world, once I wake up I would love to attend a class or go to the gym but it just doesn’t work that way because I have too much of an impromptu life. I never know what is going to happen from day-to-day. NY: What on-screen characters have you previously played that have paralleled some aspect of your real life? HRP: I played a character by the name of Malena Ellis on a show entitled, “For Your Love” which did not get seen very much but it was still one of my favorite shows on the WB years ago. Initially, it aired on NBC and it was a great story pertaining to three couples who were all going through three very different stages of love. There was a newly married couple, a non-committal couple, and an older married couple, all living in the suburbs of Chicago. I absolutely loved it! The sitcom [For Your Love] was great because it served as a reminder of what I was experiencing at that particular stage of my life. During that time, I was beginning to start a family. A few of my other on-screen characters that I have portrayed and probably one of the most popular, was Vanessa on Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper. I really did not have a lot in common with her character. My character of Officer Judy Hoffs on 21 Jump Street was the person I wanted to be but was never quite there. She [Hoffs] seemed to have it all together as a young woman and honestly I never had it all together, all the time (laughs). NY: You and singer Terry Ellis of En Vogue are BFF’s. How important would you say it is to sustain your friendship with your girls after starting a family? Also, how does the power of a true friend contribute to your overall wellbeing? HRP: That is really a good question! Ah, where do I begin? She is truly indispensable to me. There is just something about her that makes her truly special. Regardless of how stressed I am or what is going on, when I call her she can literally talk me off any ledge. She [Terry Ellis] has never judged me and she is unbelievably grounded and in turn she grounds me. I am beyond blessed to have her in my life, within my circle. It is going on 25 years of friendship and just recently I remarked to her that she is the only friend that I have never truly had an argument or a falling out with. She is amazing and when I am around her, I feel unencumbered. Seriously, I really do not know but I must have done something right in this life to have a true best friend such as her.

A photo posted by Terry Ellis (@tellis905) on

NY: Wow, I am 30-years-old and I also aspire to have the type of life-long friendship with my girlfriends that you and Terry have. My friends and I actually made a pact that despite our careers, children, relationships, and marriages we were still going to remain the best of friends.

HRP: Oh absolutely! The life occurrences that you mentioned are actually the things that will ultimately serve as a way to weed out friends. Throughout different stages of your life you can possibly drift apart.

Whatever it is about Terri, she has seamlessly stayed with me through all of my milestones including my marriage, the birth of my kids, when my son RJ was diagnosed with autism, various ups and downs, situations that I have had in my relationships or anything that Rodney and I have gone through. She is a solid base, a foundation and when I am with her there is a solid connection. I am glad you made that pact with your friends and you should stay true to it because it is indescribable to look up one day and realize there is someone who has shared half of your life with you. There is nothing more valuable than to have that resource of a true friend.

 

Stay connected with Holly Robinson Peete:

Personal Website: http://hollyrobinsonpeete.com

Family Foundation: http://www.hollyrod.org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HollyRPeete

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hollyrpeete

Twitter: @hollyrpeete