We got to know her on Vh1 reality show competition, “I Want to Work For Diddy,” but Poprah had quite the career before jumping through hoops for Diddy. She was once a very popular recording artist, singing under the name Tempest, overseas. She also hosted her own show on UPN (The CW) and now, she’s a plus size pioneer. Poprah’s got a production company, an empire–like her kindred spirits Oprah and (P.) Diddy–and acting roles waiting in the wings. Poprah’s had a bountiful journey to get to where she is now. As an artist, she faced having to compromise her morals for stardom. Running out of ways to ward of the advances, Poprah decided to make herself plus sized. She figured if she gained weight, then the big wigs of the industry wouldn’t want to sleep with her and she could be taken seriously as an artist. Poprah’s weight gain turned into her biggest ally, opening the door to the plus industry. She’s became quite the curvy crusader and there’s more to her than we thought we knew. We chatted like old girlfriends catching up. Poprah was warm, funny and genuine–a lot different from the dramatic and down-right mean Poprah that slick talked her way out of many eliminations on Diddy’s show. She opened up about producing the new reality show, The Big Girl’s Club, her decision to gain the weight and all the rest of her entrepreneurial endeavors created to empower plus size women.
Danielle: Let people know what Poprah means and who is Poprah?
Poprah: I came up with Poprah years before I did the Diddy show. I always thought of myself as a hybrid between P. Diddy and Oprah. I have an urban side with street swag, I love music and I think I’m a visionary when it comes to music and entertainment endeavors and at the same time, I felt my purpose or what God wanted me to do was speak to a mass of people. I don’t know what He wants me to say, but I always felt in my life was supposed to be used to speak to a mass of people and have them trust what I say is real and true. That lead me down the path of talk shows, hosting and things like that. Oprah has the power to give, inspire and motivate other people through speaking. I see a little bit of both of them in me. I’m more of a combination of them than one or the other.
Danielle: What do you know about music?
Poprah: I did background vocals for different recording artists. I sang on Toni Braxton’s record. I sang on a movie soundtrack for Tag Team for the Blank Man soundtrack. I did a lot of live shows and tours. I’ve toured Turkey, Italy, Greece and Spain with a live band. It was Tempest and Fade to Black–that’s the name I was going by when I left the girl group. I left the group, got my degree and went full force with music. I ended up singing overseas and as discovered by these German guys. By that time, a lot of the artists in Europe were lip syncing. I ended up singing another group’s entire album. I signed an agreement saying no one can know it’s me. God works in mysterious ways because they liked my voice enough, they ended up giving me a deal.
Danielle: So then what happened?
Poprah: I signed with a management company that worked with N’Sync and Backstreet Boys. They told me they would help me launch my career in America and when I got back here, they did nothing because they had N’Sync and they signed Left Eye and then Britney Spears. I wasn’t as big as them, so I got played. I gave up my record deal in Europe to come and work for them. That’s when I had to start pursuing music again on my own in America. That’s when I ran into all the men that told me what I had to do to get on. I decided to be a fat girl because of it. I went through almost 10 years in the industry of men telling me I had to sleep with them or compromise my values in some way in order to make it. I was never that chick. I wanted to earn what I got. I don’t feel like I should have to compromise myself.
Danielle: Was that really where your mind was?
Poprah: I would meet these people in the industry that could change my life if they just said yes. I’d leave thinking that person would genuinely help me and believed in my talent, and then they would tell me that I could sing and I got a nice body, but, ‘Don’t you know that so and so did that too? Don’t you know what so and so did in the back of the limo? You’re competing with all the other pretty girls. What makes you different? You still have to play the game.’ I went through that year after year. After a lot of dealing with that pressure, I thought, ‘You know what? Let me look like someone they don’t want to screw.’ I thought if I looked like the fat girl no one would want to screw me. A lot of big girls get offended because guys do like big girls. What people don’t get is–the men in the industry are not checking for big girls. Very few. How many times have you seen a ball player or A list celebrity on the red carpet with a big girl? No. They all want that model chick. I wasn’t thinking that I’d never find love because I’m fat; I felt it would protect me from the industry guys telling me that’s that only way I could make it. I didn’t want success based on how I looked. I thought I could avoid looking like that and try to be successful like the other plus size women. Why not look like Oprah? Missy? Queen Latifah? Mo’Nique? These are women respected for their talent who producers, directors and all of that would never try to sleep with because they don’t fit the model stereotype, so that would protect me.
Danielle: Do you feel like now as a big girl, have you been able to see the success that you weren’t able to see as a thinner girl?
**read Poprah’s response and the rest of the interview here**