Porsha Williams understood the importance of living in a Black mecca at a young age. At 5 years old, Williams spent Thanksgiving feeding the homeless alongside her grandfather, the late great civil rights leader Hosea Williams. The icon marched alongside Atlanta luminaries such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King, Andrew Young, Xernona Clayton and Joseph Lowery. Each legend helped to build the foundation for Atlanta to become the Black mecca.
Williams’ experience with such legendary figures allowed her to understand how service, civil rights and business leadership helped to shape Atlanta.
“I knew Atlanta was special from a very young age, just through charity work,” Williams told rolling out. “My grandfather, Hosea Williams, created the charity Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless. I worked in it, and it was right in the heart of Atlanta. All of my life I’ve been very close to the community and have known the people. We like to work together, we like to build each other up, we like to network; it’s a very [forward-looking city].”
With her family’s legacy intact, Williams gained notoriety in her own right in 2008 after joining the cast of Bravo’s vibrant reality TV show, “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.” She also became a national voice in entertainment television after being named as a permanent host of the syndicated show “Dish Nation” in 2014. Williams is the only Black woman in Hollywood to currently star in a reality TV show and a nationally syndicated talk show.
She also appeared on the first season of “The New Celebrity Apprentice” and did voice work in the animated movie CarGo.
Along with becoming a household name, Williams continued to pursue her entrepreneurial goals when she was not in front of the camera. She owns a virgin hair line called Go Naked Hair and a line of women’s intimate apparel known as Naked Lingerie.
“Being an entrepreneur just came naturally,” Williams said. “My father was an entrepreneur. He owns his own chemical company. My mother is also an entrepreneur, owning numerous childcare centers throughout Atlanta. I started out working in the family business, which was childcare. I ended up starting my own childcare center [at] 24 years old. Being an entrepreneur gives me the power to come up with a product that is close to my heart, and [a chance to] offer something to inspire other women and help them express themselves.”
She also sees Atlanta as a place where Black businesses can thrive. Georgia is second in the nation when it comes to the number of Black-owned businesses, trailing only the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“Atlanta is definitely a place where you can make a great living for yourself being African American,” Williams said. “We do support each other a lot. A lot of people definitely try to network with each other to keep that going.”
This week, the world will be watching the city of Atlanta as it hosts Super Bowl LIII. Williams hopes that the festivities serve as an opportunity for people to experience the Black mecca up close and personal.
“I want people to experience the Atlanta that they’ve always heard about,” she shared. “I think that Atlanta has a great reputation for being very warm, Southern and with great hospitality. I just want them to be able to experience everything that they would expect from the South, which is to be embraced by us and to know that they always have a home. A lot of people from different states end up moving to Georgia because it’s a great place to raise a family. We have probably the best dynamic here because you can really find a place that you want to hang with your family during the day, and we also have a great nightlife. I think that the Atlanta pride is going to show through, and it’s going to be a great opportunity for us to be able to have so many people from everywhere here.”
In the midst of running a business, starring on “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” and bringing viewers celebrity news on “Dish Nation,” Williams found love with her fiancé Dennis McKinley. The two are expecting their first child together.
“Mommy entrepreneurs must be sure to have a great support system,” she said. “And you have to make sure that the type of business that you want to start will be good for you and your family. I wouldn’t get into just anything. If you don’t have someone to keep your kids and the best support, you may want to start a business that’s online, where you could be working from home. Start a business that’ll be practical for your real lifestyle. Research it and just go for it. Dream big and put in the hard work. Always use your kids as the focus and the purpose and the drive for what you’re going to do.”
Words: A.R. Shaw
Photo credit: Stanley Babb