Every other week, Slate hosts a culture-forward live show called Wild and Wise with Jamilah Lemieux and williambryantmiles. On a recent show, Jamilah and WBM spoke with TV personality and businesswoman Bevy Smith about all things Bevy from bevaritas to her new book Bevelations: Lessons From a Mutha, Auntie, Bestie. Part of their conversation, adapted from their live show and edited for clarity, can be read below.
Bevy Smith: I spent two decades pursuing this career, and I became the fashion/advertising director. I brought all the big business, the Prada, the Gucci, the Dior, and all that. I get here and I’m sitting front row, dining with Tom Ford, and I’m doing all the things, darling—all the things that you could ever imagine [for] a girl who’s from 150th Street and Eighth Avenue. I’m flying first class, I got the corner suite at the largest luxury hotel in Milan, I’m staying at the Hôtel Costes in Paris, and I’m doing all the things. Then I realize I’m miserable and it ain’t everything that I thought it was gonna be cracked up to be. I have to look at myself and I have to say: “How do you get out of this? Because this is actually a gilded cage that you created.” I had to step down and first acknowledge that I was miserable at something that I had pursued very hard. There are a lot of women who are probably listening to this who can relate, because how many times have we chased after a man only to get him and be like, “This piece of shit, he wasn’t even worth my time”? Sometimes that happens with careers as well. I feel that people are far more hesitant to pivot out of a big career that you built, that’s bringing you not only a large salary but also accolades, respect, and puts you in spaces and places. I had to acknowledge that I wasn’t happy.
Jamilah Lemieux: That’s hard! When you know so many people want to be in your shoes, you feel privileged, like this is an honor. How can I be unsatisfied by something that people would die for?
Smith: Yes, exactly. It was a dream job for me, then it became a nightmare. That was when I was like, “I have to wake up.” The interesting thing is I had that meltdown when I was 33 and I did not actually make a move until I was 38, and that’s a really important part of the book. I never want people to think just because you’re unhappy you should burn up your whole life.