Eboni K. Williams is every aspiring lawyer’s “Pretty Powerful” fairy godmother
I recently speed-read “Pretty Powerful” by TV Newscaster and Author Eboni K. Williams on my iPhone.
I kept saying to myself, “same, girl, same.” In elementary school, being called out about your looks was the definition of a hater, yet women are still up against a lot of criticism for even daring to wear purple nail polish! But you already knew that.
The former beauty queen turned attorney (who specialized in family law and civil litigation ) merged her legal expertise with her passion for journalism to dive into the world of television as a political correspondent. If you’re not familiar with her face on your tube, she recently released a “docket where she berated Trump on Fox News on why his remarks to the Charlottesville terrorist attack were cowardly.
“No more benefit, all doubt,” she says in a bright red sleeveless dress. If you’re going to rip apart the “leader of the free world” with words, best to come correct.
In “Pretty Powerful,” Eboni profiles famous businesswomen and politicians and features first-hand thoughts about their experiences leading a boss lifestyle. In one chapter labeled “the bimbo effect,” our Galore Muva Tyra Banks shares why she had to boss up on ‘em with a Harvard Business School degree. *snaps*
Here’s what the southern belle has to say about being pretty, and some legal-ish advice to approaching social media like a boss. Go inside our conversation. Answers have been lightly edited for clarity.
What made you write this book?
In today’s climate, particularly with social media — Snapchat, Instagram Stories, Facebook — we’ve never lived in a more visually driven society. As much as I would love talking about elevating beyond concern with the appearance, the truth is we’re even more concerned with it now than ever before.
And so I think we have to reconcile how to deal with that concern because that’s not going anywhere. I think it’s elevating but also equally really more so concern ourselves with the substance development And investing in our education our academic excellence our integrity as professional women. And because that’s the part that sustains the appearance is undeniably important of been unapologetically articulating that in this book and again more critical today than ever before at the same time. What will keep you in the door and sustain you and grow your career is the substantive investment. In the brand equity chapter, I talk about how that equation evolves with insight from Tyra Banks and her Harvard Business School degree. I want the young woman to get in front of that equation earlier rather than later on.
Right. And so do you think Instagram modeling can hurt or hinder a female who may like posting pretty pictures of herself on social media but may conduct herself differently in the office space?
I think it can have a risk associated with it. I say that because I look at young women who I know — some of them are already some of my college, Some of them I mentored of the organization like the Boy & Girls Club or whatever, and I know they are good young girls and they are smart and they’re hard-working, but when I saw some of the social media posts it doesn’t reflect the quality of women I know them to be.
So I don’t think there’s anything wrong with posting on social media. But I would encourage and particularly young women of color to educate themselves on the stereotypes that are prevalent around who we are regarding a hypersexuality culture. It’s not doing away with your sexuality or conforming to respectability politics; it’s just to consider all those elements and make sure what posting is a reflection of what you would be proud of.
And was there ever a situation where you felt you had to like tone down your pretty?
Yes. When I went to interview as a public defender, I was coming from a law firm where you have to wear your nice suit and your pearls and all that. And when I went to this public defender job interview I knew there was a concern that “I wouldn’t be able to relate to the client.” These were very poor people who suffered from substance abuse and mental illnesses. And so for the first round of interviews, they were like well your resume looks great, you seem good, but can you handle our rough clientele? These were their words, not mine. So for the second interview round, “dressed down.”
What did you wear?
So the first time, I had on my Theory pantsuit, a string of white pearls, a white crisp button down shirt, and some black pumps. That was for the Public Defender’s office. A job that was paying $28,000 a year I believe they thought it was a little bit much.
Really? Isn’t that standard businesswear!? Lol, so what did you wear for the second interview?
So when I went back for the second round of interviews I was a lot more toned down. I think I just had on like maybe some khaki colored pants and just a white shirt. So no jacket no jewelry and maybe even put my hair in a ponytail versus down and more glamorous. That was intentional. That was to say I could roll up my sleeves and get down and dirty with the best of them, I got the job and then when I got the job I just had one day which was dressed up and glamour girl and Barbie lawyer every day. And I still kicked butt and got my clients great results, and I was never questioned again about my competence.