[EXCLUSIVE] Valeisha Butterfield-Jones Dishes On Working With President Obama, Her Book “The GirlPrint” & More
It’s been said that women can’t have it all. But there are some women that do indeed have it all and make it look effortless while they’re at it. Valeisha Butterfield-Jones is one of those women. The political strategist, women’s activist, author, wife and mother seems to have mastered the art of pursuing and accomplishing numerous goals while still having the picturesque family that she’s always wanted. Valeisha shared with me how she got into entertainment and politics, what it’s like being a “basketball wife”, how she balances it all and she even shared some advice for young women wanting to get into the business. Read more below.
How’d you get into the entertainment industry? I read somewhere that hip hop was your first love. Was that what drove you towards the industry?
I was eleven years old and my friend Antonio moved to our neighborhood in Wilson, NC. He introduced me to “The Great Adventures of Slick Rick.” From that moment I fell in love with Hip-Hop. It literally awakened something inside me that had been silent.
How did working with Russell Simmons and the Hip Hop Summit Action Network impact your perspective on the relationship between hip hop and politics?
I always saw Hip-Hop as this catalyst for speaking to and representing a culture that the world did not understand. There had not been a spotlight in our communities. It really solidified my perspective working with Russell because I was organizing and executing these civil engagement campaigns that fused hip hop and politics. From voter registration to financial empowerment, hip hop was the voice speaking truth to power.
You worked with President Obama and his administration in Public Affairs 2009-2011. Was that strategic move since your parents are both heavily involved in politics?
Leading up to that appointment I was still working for Russell and I volunteered for the campaign. On election night the President said to me “If I win The White House will be giving you a call”. I really didn’t think much of it. I wasn’t even thinking about working for The White House. When the call came I was humbled and excited. I embraced the opportunity to serve our country and President Barack Obama.
Did your parents’ political history make your political career easier or harder?
My parent’s background I believe just really gave me clear perspective. I know my parent’s were politicians but I just really saw their love for community. They both embody the pillars of servant leadership.
You’re a basketball wife. Not in the reality sense, but in the literal sense. lol Your husband is actually an NBA player. Do you think there’s a stigma on women who date athletes?
I would say that there is a stigma based on some women that date athletes. I believe also media in a lot of cases amplifies negative portrayals and even the women themselves. There are countless wives that are married to athletes that do not fit the negative stereotype that is portrayed. When I look at my husband I just fell in love with a man that loves God.
You’re a mom now to a little boy. How have the recent police killings of Mike Brown, Eric Garner and others made you feel about your little boy’s future?
It has forced me to fight these injustices with my prayer life and being civically engaged. I still believe in a better tomorrow for my son and the generation that he represents.
Speaking of motherhood, you are a business woman; the Co-Founder of the Women In Entertainment Empowerment Network. Has it been difficult juggling being a wife, mother and businesswoman?
It is a challenge because now that I am a mother there is a premium on my time. Now I work harder to find balance and harmony. My network of family, friends and co-workers are invaluable and have allowed me to continue to pursue my dreams.
Let’s talk about your book “The GirlPrint”. What was the inspiration and goal behind it?
I was actually doing a speaking engagement at Fort Hays State University in Hays, KS. I was having a great dialogue with the youth and then I had to leave. I said you know what I want people to have an extension of that speech. When I leave an event I want people to have a takeaway. Even if they never meet me I want them to benefit from my story. It’s the type of book that helps you to find you.
Where can people purchase it?
The hard copy version can be purchased on Amazon.com. If you would like the e-book for the Kindle, Nook or Ipad it can purchased through their stores online also.
What are 3 things you would tell women looking to get into the entertainment industry?
Dream: Visualize where you see yourself. It’s almost like playing your own movie in your mind. Close your eyes and see where you want to be.
Search: Identify people that represent what you would like to do. Google their interviews. Write them a letter. Be a student of their career.
Move: Start working. You are not going to have all of the answers but action is required now.
What’s next on the horizon for you?
I am working on helping to bring diversity into the Technology Sector. I believe there are a lot of bright minds that don’t have access to this industry.
Tell me something that people might not know about you.
I cook really good friend chicken! (I know because my husband could eat it every night). But I don’t eat it because I am a pescetarian.