Paula Deen is cooking up a comeback, y'all. Think it will work?
Deen, 67, is on the March 10 cover of People magazine, arguably the highest-profile stop on her mea culpa tour that she hopes will help her regain the favorable media spotlight.
"I'm fighting to get my name back," Deen told the magazine in an interview billed as an excusive look at Deen's struggle to start over and rebuild her tarnished empire.
At times, Deen told People, she had trouble getting out of bed in the morning, and said her fall from grace forced her to face her greatest fears -- and realize she could still survive.
"When I woke up each morning, it was like my world was crashing down again," she said. "I used to have dreams that I lost everything. And when it finally happens, you think, 'I'm still alive.' "
Deen saw her food and media empire implode in 2013 following a lawsuit filed by a former employee. The employee spoke of hostile working conditions and said that Deen was given to racially tinged language and outlandish comments. Among them: her dream of producing a plantation-themed wedding, complete with a fleet of costumed black men serving as the waitstaff.
The lawsuit was plodding along but gained overnight momentum after it was revealed that Deen had conceded in a court hearing that she had used the N-word, even though she insisted the incident had taken place many years earlier.
Within hours, her business partners began distancing themselves, including Food Network -- which had helped make Deen a household name.
All that said, while Deen's popularity plummeted in some corners, there were plenty of diehard fans who rushed to her defense.
Many blame the media for seemingly taking a side in a lawsuit filed by a disgruntled employee -- a lawsuit that has since been dismissed in part, and ultimately settled. (It needs to be noted that the accuser has since described Deen as a "woman of compassion and kindness" who would "never tolerate discrimination or racism.")
Now, Deen is ready to put all that behind her. She told People: "I've learned a lot."
A private firm is investing in Deen, plunging more than $75 million into a new company, Paula Deen Ventures.
What do you think? Are you looking forward to what's next for Deen? Tweet me your thoughts at @renelynch
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