Writer. Producer. Educator.
My mom says she named me ‘Peppur’ because she wanted her daughter to be a strong black woman. I think she succeeded, primarily because people made fun of my name a lot and I had to be strong and stick up for myself.
I was named “The Hot One” by my friend Erik McKay, a fellow actor who was also a techy guy when I lived in New York. He had given me one of his old laptops and as he scrubbed it clean, he entered the owner name as The Hot One and it stuck.
While I took on this secret persona around 1999, I don’t think I fully became “hot” until much later. I had danced for the World Champion Chicago Bulls and for the Milwaukee Bucks; I had been a star track athlete at Marquette University; but even with all of those spotlights and accolades, I hadn’t yet stepped into myself fully…even with all the a sizzle a woman like me has.
It was around the time that I took this photo with my friend Erin Froehlic that I started to notice a change. We were both working at The Gurin Company in Studio City. We were low on the totem pole, yet respected in that non-scripted/reality/game show office that made it not so bad to go to work. But, we both had other dreams and aspirations. She wanted to be a photographer; I wanted to act more. I needed new headshots and bingo, synergy was met. I think this was around 2007. During our session, we shot some traditional headshots and then we both decided to do something fun. I threw on this red negligee and this wig that I had bought for a show. Before the camera, in that intimate spotlight, I became someone else…I became The Hot One.
I went on to produce, direct and write shows, often with my brother Shakir. We became a dynamic duo with our Three Peas Production company. I’d also created the Brown Betties and Harlem’s Night Cabaret which became the tent pole to my cannon of work. Yet, something was still missing.
For years I felt like I was unsuccessful because I hadn’t reached what I called, “the red carpet” of stardom. When introducing myself at parties as an actress/writer/producer/director and the person before me would ask, “Oh, have I seen anything that you’ve done?” I feel this sense of shame; it was an innocent enough question, but unless they’d caught my smiling face behind Charlotte, Carrie, Miranda and Samantha in Sex & The City’s “Where There’s Smoke” episode, the answer was a big, “Nope.”
Hollywood has a way of doing that. More importantly, WE have a way of doing that to ourselves.
Once I finally realized that I was a super star in my own right, that I produced great work with compelling messages that entertained people, I was much happier. It took me living in Prague for three years to get this in my head. As a journalism teacher at Prague College, and through the eyes of young, courageous college students, I learned I really was successful. I was H O T.
It has been a journey to reach this point and I’m thankful for it. It is my mission to continue to create excellent work, and in the meantime, I strive to inspire people with my words. Especially women. Because sometimes we need to hear how great we are a little bit more and a little bit louder.