What Ever Happened to Paula Deen? — Secret History of Country Music
In 2013, Paula Deen was a celebrity chef with several television shows, cookbooks, a magazine and restaurants. Then, she went away. She's back now as a celebrity chef with several television shows, cookbooks, a magazine and restaurants.
What Happened to Paula Deen?
The famous Food Network host was making a reported $50,000 per episode for shows like Paula's Home Cooking and Paula's Party in 2012. Forbes (via ABC) said she pulled in $17 million that year, but a lawsuit filed by a former general manager at one of her restaurants would lead to a full removal from television, and the end of endorsement agreements with brands like QVC, K-Mart and Sears.
It wasn't so much what she did as much as what she said in a deposition for a lawsuit filed by Lisa Jackson. It became public, and an emotional interview with Matt Lauer didn't really help much. It's difficult to watch 10 years later.
What Did Paula Deen Say?
Jackson claimed that in 2007, while planning her brother Bubba Heirs' wedding, Deen used the N-word to describe her preferred staff for a "true Southern wedding." Deen would deny using the slur in that instance, and the race discrimination portion of the lawsuit was dismissed, as a judge decided that nothing said was said toward Jackson, who is white.
However, Deen did admit to using the N-Word previously. Here is an exchange between her and Jackson's lawyer, courtesy of CNN's reporting at the time:
Laywer: Miss Deen, have you told racist jokes?
Deen: No, not racial.
Laywer: Have you ever used the ‘N word’ yourself?
Deen: Yes, of course (she'd describe a situation from many years prior when she told her husband about being robbed at gunpoint while working as a bank teller).
Lawyer: Have you used it since then?
Deen: I’m sure I have, but it’s been a very long time.
Her attempts to explain that she objects to the use of the word and her professional team's tries to massage the situation did not work, and by the end of 2013, she was gone. She wasn't gone for good, however.
What Is Paula Deen Doing Today?
Food Network announced it would not renew Deen's contract on June 12, 2013, but within two years, she'd reemerge on a variety of mediums. A podcast called What's Cooking with Paula Deen and a radio show with a similar name debuted. That same year, she was invited to dance on ABC's Dancing With the Stars, eventually finishing 9th.
Starting in 2016, television shows and offers started to pile up, including At Home With Paula Deen on Fox Nation and a guest judge spot on Fox's Masterchef. A magazine is still in print, and she's published several books.
She has even returned to the commercial culinary world: You'll find multiple locations of Paula Deen's Family Kitchen, including one in Nashville, Gatlinburg, Tenn., Branson, Mo. and Myrtle Beach.
Two months after she lost everything, Jackson's lawsuit was settled "without any award of costs or fees to any party."