Paula Bond, a daughter of a single parent, former high fashion super model, producer, broadcaster and author from Compton, CA who believed in her own dreams, used her imagination and family values to beat off society’s negative stereotypes by elevating her thinking with combining the power of her beauty and brains in order to express the importance of achieving her past and present goals. Paula’s fascinating story reminds you of the importance of having a good education, positive outlook, being unafraid and two things to love relentlessly: a relationship with yourself and God.
Maleena Lawrence (Los Angeles Sentinel): Where did you grow up?
Paula Bond: I am from Compton, CA. I grew up all my young life there. I graduated from Dominguez High School in Compton, CA.
LAS: How did you begin your career as a High Fashion Super Model?
PB: When life begins you really have no idea how this thing is going to play out. It is so interesting how I came from a single household in Compton. My mom was single raising 3 girls. I went from Compton to Paris and remember wearing garments and gowns that cost more than a used car my mom was able to afford. I could not have imagined it. The way I got to Paris to be on the runway is that I was a student at Long Beach State University (LBSU). I was always tall and thin, never wore make up before with a big ole Afro and people always said you must be a model. So I started going to modeling school just to learn some refinement.
LAS: From the inspiration of others, what happened once you started taking modeling classes?
PB: One day a gentleman had come in from the Miss California International Pageant and they were looking for ladies to participate in the pageant because it was going to be shut down if they did not make it a more diverse pageant to reflect the population of California. The pageant was predominately white. I ended up participating in the pageant. I was Miss Century City. There was a handful of chocolate and Latina women. We had a week of preliminary things with all the girls. I knew I did a great job and it was just a fun experience. I was a natural at it. Fast forward, it was live television and Ted Knight was the host. I had made it to the top 10 finalists. And they made an announcement before break that the winner would be announced when we got back. There was a lot of great activity with the judges. I found out later on that although I was the judges pick for the winner the owner wanted them to call out someone else’s name. 3, 2, 1 and they announced my name.
LAS: Wow, against the discriminatory odds, what was life like after winning the Miss California International Pageant?
PB: It was one of those moments that was life changing for me. The judges said if they call any other name than Paula Bond we are going to go up on stage and expose this as fraud. It was so exciting and so fun because it was not an expectation of mine. As a result of me winning the pageant I got a lot of publicity for being named the first Black woman to be named Miss California. The story got picked up in Ebony and JET magazine. Then Mr. and Mrs. Johnson saw my photo and invited me to come to Chicago to audition to be an Ebony Fashion Fair model.
LAS: Did you get a callback to join the Ebony Fashion Fair Show?
PB: Yes, when Ebony called, I thought it was a wonderful opportunity. I decided to go on the Ebony Fashion Fair, which means I did not go on to the Miss CA International Pageant but the second runner up did. The good thing was that she was Latino. The Lord worked out everything in order because I did not have a big interest in doing that. When I finished the Ebony Fashion Fair doors opened up, I traveled the country and lived in New York before I ended up on the runways in Paris. It was a fascinating time in my life.
LAS: To whom do you attribute credit for the development of your work ethic?
PB: Ya know that’s great, I was always very spirited and adventurous. I thought outside the box. My mom always worked hard so I knew I would grow up working. My dad was in prison. When he got out and joined us for the first time I was a high school senior. When he came out of prison he had amazing jobs and did some outstanding things. He was a self-starter entrepreneur who owned a cleaning company, carwash. My parents both worked hard.
LAS: Raised in Compton and given an opportunity to travel the world as a high fashion model, share with us what kind of mindset you adopted in order to successfully make it?
PB: I think young women should follow their dreams and not push down that leader they feel in them. This controversy going on now about girls not wanting to be bossy and people like Beyonce weighing in saying wait a minute, I Am my own boss. Girls should be stronger leaders and do the things that are on the inside to express their heart, creativity and talents. Girls and Women should not shy away from being a Boss and a leader.
As a result of being unafraid of being a Boss and a leader, I own my own production company, First Option Entertainment. I am sure everybody wasn’t thrilled with me growing up but I always had ideas of what I wanted to do with my life and I had the courage to go after what I wanted to do.
LAS: Even with being a boss, it seems like Women fiercely juggle to balance their personal, social and professional life to stay ahead.
PB: Listen; being a mom, woman, boss, wife and grandmother is a woman’s from gift from God. Women are nurturing and there is a true role we must play in this world but it does not mean deny that other part of you which is creative, talented, outgoing, smart and intelligent. Be smarter than that and you will find a good man, I promise you will. Girls, don’t suppress your smarts or be afraid to be smarter than the boys to build them up.
LAS: Specifically, As a Black woman, when you left the U.S. and traveled abroad to Europe and neighboring countries can you share the contrasting details of the cultural experiences you encountered working outside America?
PB: When I was in Compton as a kid I grew up in the 60s and 70s we were still coming out and just starting to say, “I’m Black and I’m Proud”. Our psyche as young black girls (not everybody) coming up in a time where little black girls were seeing blond hair and blue eyes as what some of us were aspiring to be instead of the beautiful creatures that God made us to be. But it was a mindset. It was cultural when people told us we were unattractive. You had to know where they were coming from until we learned otherwise. By the time I went from Compton to Long Beach to Paris, make up artists would say, “Wow your dark brown skin is so beautiful and your full lips are so sensual…” I had never heard that in Compton. And when you’re a kid playing with others they would say, “Auh, your big lips...” The hair stylist in Europe would do my hair (which I was not that far away from pressing out my afro) and tell me your texture of hair is so authentic and can uphold any style. It’s so true! Black kinky hair can uphold anything. It was the very first time in my life that I was told my hair, skin and full lips was valuable. I then had a decision to make. Did I want to believe this new belief, look and value of myself that had been placed on me or did I want to believe what I had been told in America that I was dark and it was not a good thing. Trust me, Europeans, when I walked the streets in Paris at a time when black female models was a phenomenon people looked at me with smiles and told me très jolie (very beautiful). I never saw people react to me like that before. I chose to adopt that mentality that God did not make any mistakes with my dark skin, nappy hair and full lips. What he created in Black people and brown people and even white people was about having diversity. Not being better than the other. While in Europe, I found self-confidence and the beauty in myself and bought it home with me when I came back to America.
LAS: How did you share what you learned about yourself with other women?
PB: I came home and women would ask me to teach their daughters what I learned in Europe. I started teaching table manners, dining etiquette, poise, posture, hair and skin care, make up, how to carry yourself. Now, I found that joining personal and social skills in the day of social media you have to be able to manage and express yourself properly. And I wrote a book called, Social Media, Say Hello to Social Skills.
LAS: At a time when the intersection of communication between generations are becoming less face-to-face and more conversing on social media platforms, what inspired you to write your book, Social Media Say Hello to Social Skills?
PB: The theory of my book is about combining social media with your personal and social skills. My prime target is 12 to 18 year old girls. It’s about knowing and understanding how to manage and maneuver situations through this world that young people did not have to deal with when I was growing up. And some things we all deal with as people. This book will help young girls learn how to have a good life outside of their immediate circle and not to compromise themselves. I need young people to understand that the mistakes they make on-line at a young age is a file that follows them into their adult lives.
LAS: Blending it all together from live events and television production, what do you think about the depiction of beauty and the modeling industry portrayed on reality TV shows?
PB: First of all, reality TV is not real. You cannot fight, turn over tables and throw drinks in peoples faces all the time because you would wear yourself out being nasty, angry and mean. Although my company primarily produces live events I have been a producer on a reality TV show called, I Do Over. It got canceled because we were too nice. What I highly dislike about reality shows is that it is presented as real. It gives the impression that if you adopt a bad girl image, offer your body or be the sexiest thing out there that life is going to turn out right for you. That is the biggest lie going. Even Tyra’s show (Top Model) is good and a great door opener for girls who believe they want to be in the modeling industry but you need to be realistic. You’re not going to be a high fashion model without being 5’ 10” and up, rail thin naturally and good looking. Reality TV is entertainment not something for young girls to aspire to become. An aspiration is growing up to do better not be a ho, trashy or video vixens. Depend on your own intelligence not be used and abused.
LAS: As a business owner, what are some of the key rules that you live by as a woman entrepreneur?
PB: We operate in integrity. When I was at LBSU I changed my major from Psychology to Radio and Television Production. As a child I organized plays and fashion shows and writing just for fun. When I got to LBSU, I took a class in radio and TV production. I realized that it was what I’ve done all my life and who I am naturally. So after modeling, I worked as a Broadcaster for BET and later ventured off to start my company, First Option Entertainment, a live event production company. We are moving into television. I am an event producer from behind the scenes. Everything is not always perfect. We take our clients shows to another level. A lot of our specialty work is with non-profits and we help them increase their profile and revenue. I am in favor of women doing things non-traditionally. Say what you mean and mean what you say. That’s how businesses last.
LAS: Ms. Bond, You are definitely fascinating, any last words?
PB: In order to have a good life, don’t play the competition game just keep your head up, be well educated and do the things you’re meant to do to make it happen the doors will open.
For more info about Paula Bond go to: http://www.firstoptionentertainment.com
Twitter: @paula1stoption and @kb2db | Instagram: 007pbond
Facebook: FirstOptionEntertainment and Know Better2DoBetter http://www.knowbetter2dobetter.com/