The Accidental Diva
By Ronke Adeyemi
“People always say that you have been writing your first novel for your whole life and it’s kind of true,” says Tia Williams. This is the kind of statement that sounds a bit cheesy at first, that is, until you sit down and chew it over.
Take it from me; Tia Williams has certainly had a lot to think over within the last few years. A glamorous beauty guru with a best-selling book plus a gorgeous hubby to boot, life just couldn’t get any better.
Welcome to Tia Williams’ world, radio show host and former beauty director of Teen People magazine, the industry’s top-selling teen publication.
Ms Williams is now the successful author of uber chicklit, ‘The Accidental Diva’. I catch her on her mobile while she is heading out into the Manhattan sunshine after wrapping up her Cosmo radio show. It is easy to tell that she is a woman who loves the space that she’s in right now. Well why wouldn’t she be? She has just completed her second novel and has also written a beauty book for supermodel, Iman.
She is now putting her talents to writing teen books for Disney. All this on top of co-hosting Cosmo’s morning radio show as well as having a sexy beauty blog called Shake Your Beauty. Then there is the likelihood of her first novel, ‘The Accidental Diva’ being turned into a film.
‘The Accidental Diva’ tells the story of beautiful Billie Burke who has a great job as a beauty editor for the world’s leading magazine as well as an amazing circle of friends. Unfortunately her love life sucks, in fact the poor lady hasn’t had sex in five years.
However, when she falls in love with Jay, an up and coming rapper from the wrong side of town her life is rocked to the core. Tia’s debut novel has been well received and has been dubbed, ‘Sex and the City’ meets Lauryn Hill.
This is fantastic news to Tia who gave up her job as beauty director of Teen People to concentrate on writing books.
Quitting your job to follow your dream is something that takes a lot of courage, so didn’t the thought of leaving such a prestigious job scare her?
“I was terrified,” she exclaims. “I thought it was the biggest mistake I’d ever made. I mean it’s hard to get your feet in the fashion industry, particularly as a Black woman because there are not a lot of us in beauty. People were telling me I was insane but it was my dream to write books, I have so many stories and I just had to get them out.”
Tia, as you can gather is a woman with many words, a 30 year old Northern Virginia native, as a child her literary idols were Judith Krantz and Jackie Collins. After graduation she moved to the Big Apple where she worked as an Editorial Assistant at Doubleday Books. After grouchily reading other people’s manuscripts (her own words) she realised that she was a frustrated writer and swapped her reading role with a beauty writing one.
A few stints at YM, Elle, Glamour and Lucky and fours years later she struck gold by landing the plum job of beauty director at Teen People magazine. “It was while I was at Teen People that all my dreams came true,” she says breathlessly. “Firstly I got a two book deal and secondly, Iman approached me to write a beauty book”. So it was goodbye to her old life as her beauty honcho and hello to a new life as an author.
Hacks writing books have become de rigour and it is now at the point where no self-respecting journo is without their own book. So why is this so popular, is it a form of therapy?
“You know what?” she says thoughtfully. “It is a form of therapy, journalism is a tough industry; it can be very catty and superficial especially in the fashion world. It is so bizarre how our lives are that we start to think they are normal. That is why America is eating up these stories right now.”
Eating them up they are if the anticipated release of book cum film, ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ is anything to go by.
A hack she may be but Tia certainly has her finger on the pulse when it comes to the portrayal of Black women in the media. Mention the controversial film, ‘Diary of a Mad Black Woman which is about a sister who hits back after being dumped by her husband and you are bound to get her blood boiling.
“We are always seen as being mad about something, loud talking or we have to overcome obstacles,” she says. “You never hear about women who doing great in their careers and have great lives. That is why I was so moved by ‘Sex and the City’ because that is how my friends and I live but you will never get to see that because we are not in the media.”
Hopefully Billie and her mates have put paid to those old stereotypes and showed the mainstream that sisters are having a fabulous time in the life, work and love department.
The Accidental Diva is available to buy from amazon.com. Watch out for the film version coming to a screen near you.
To check out Tia’s beauty blog go to www.tiawilliams.net
Ronke Adeyemi is a freelance journalist and marketing consultant
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