Former boxer Laila Ali sets the record straight about false reports that she is a supporter of embattled chef Paula Deen in an exclusive interview with commentator Jacque Reid on the Tom Joyner Morning Show.
On July 30, TMZ posted a brief conversation between Ali and a member of their paparazzi team (see above) where Ali answered questions about Paula Deen’s use of the n-word. From the exchange, TMZ posted a headline that read “Laila Ali I’m Still In Paula Deen’s Corner” but the boxer claims the gossip site completely twisted her words to create a “juicy” story.
The daughter of the legendary Muhammad Ali said she was shocked when she first saw the story, telling Reid, “I stopped in my tracks, like wait a minute, no they didn’t”. Adding, “That wasn’t the place and time that I really wanted to get into how I feel about the whole Paula Deen situation, so I was being very vague on purpose, so for them to have said that was very irritating.”
Ali believes TMZ fabricated the headline for a better story, she explains, “If you watch the video, they obviously completely exaggerated and made up the headline which did not match my words. I guess what I said wasn’t juicy enough for them.”
The multi-talented celebrity says she was referring to Deen’s cooking ability in the TMZ interview, not her use of the n-word, and she wants people to know that she does not support Deen’s actions.
Ali exclusively told Reid, “It really didn’t surprise me that she used the n-word or maybe even still uses it, you know she’s an older woman from the deep south and she was probably brought up using the n-word as a regular part of conversation.”
But Laila insists that does not excuse Deen, “as an adult she [Deen] should know better than to use any sort of racist or highly offensive, disrespectful language to refer to black people or anyone for that matter.”
She also says that had she known of Deen’s use of the racial epithet she would never have been a guest on Deen’s since cancelled cooking show:
“Well, you know, I’m a big person of character and integrity. And, you know, if I would’ve known that Paula Deen used racial language to describe black folks I would’ve never agreed to be a guest on her show. But the fact of the matter is, you know, I already was on the show. So, you know, like I said, I’m not surprised, but I’m not saying it’s okay…I just wasn’t surprised. And I’m like I feel a lot of people probably use that word behind closed doors.”
TMZ has not rescinded the original story despite Ali’s displeasure with it but she doesn’t know what steps she is going to take to have the story corrected, if any, she explained, “I haven’t even reached out to them and asked them to correct it…Maybe I will, but the thing is, is that, you know, I feel like with the media, social media, you know, a lot of times things can get twisted. This one was just all the way twisted up.”
But when TJMS co-host Sybil Wilkes said, “I think you can take Harvey Levin”, the multi-talented star, laughed it off but we think she could have taken him if she chose to.
On another note, Deen’s fall from grace could also be a benefit for Ali, who is an avid chef herself. She joked about the possibility of having her own cooking show, “that’s something that I’m working on, and you know, now that Paula Deen doesn’t have her show maybe they need to go on and give me mine.”
“Laila Ali’s Home Cooking” sounds good to us.