Checking In with Keynote Speaker & Celebrity Chef, Gina Neely
Executive Speakers Bureau recently had a chance to sit down and catch up with managed speaker, Gina Neely. As a top rated television personality and best-selling author, Gina has performed live for thousands of fans all over the country, not only showcasing her skills and fun loving approach to cooking, but also sharing her perspectives on life, love, and the issues facing women in their personal and professional lives. Taking great pride in her success as an entrepreneur, Gina loves to share her positive outlook with audiences.
Catch us up with Gina Neely – give us a snapshot of a day in your life right now.
I am great – I have a wonderful network of family and friends who keep me busy, and also keep me strong. I’ve gone through a lot of changes in recent years, but through my faith and a lot of reflecting, I have rediscovered myself…and recharged my spirit. I finally found the courage to take control of my life and make some positive changes. I’m in a really good place now, and excited about the next chapter!
You have talked lately about embracing a healthier lifestyle. Tell us some of the positive changes that have resulted from that.
It honestly started through a proposed campaign by the George Foreman brand – with a goal of losing 25 pounds in 12 weeks. This is what opened the door for me. Once I committed to it, I started losing weight and feeling a lot healthier, on the outside and the inside. For years, as a chef and co-owner of a Southern restaurant chain, I didn’t always make the healthiest decisions when it came for cooking for family or myself. All of a sudden, I started to make small changes in ingredients and food preparation that delivered big results. I also began exercising on a regular basis. It was like the sun started shining brighter and I really started to wake up, take things in and notice the positive blessings in my life. I started shedding weight, along with negative thoughts. I even started a personal blog – that whole year changed my life. I was approaching 50 and just wanted to be happy and be my best self! I feel like I accomplished that and I love sharing it with others.
What types of projects do you have in the works?
I’m currently traveling and speaking to groups around the country, along with various appearances on television, radio, podcasts – you name it. I was recently blessed with a feature on “Where Are They Now,” an episode on Oprah’s OWN network. I also appeared as a guest judge for a cooking segment on “The Real” and I’m featured in a Dr. Oz magazine article in December. I’m even working on a new book entitled Rediscovering Your Cha Cha. It’s currently in progress, so stay tuned!
My public speaking engagements are something fairly new yet so rewarding. I love talking about inspiration, especially with faith-based groups and anything related to kids.
The success of your Food Network show propelled you into the spotlight on a national scale. What were some of the pros and cons associated with that notoriety? How did it help prepare you for launching a new chapter in your life?
When Food Network approached us, we thought it would be a good outlet for marketing our brand and products. I thought the show might get a few episodes, maybe go on for a year at the most. I never dreamed it would have the success it did! I was very anxious when we first started shooting it, and had to get used to becoming a public figure and having my family in the spotlight. Our producer Gordon Elliot was a great sounding board, though. He really helped put it all in perspective. I also had to lean on the support of family and friends, along with my pastor, and learn how to strike a balance between being a mom and having a national spotlight. The show aired from 2008-14, and was one of the highest rated shows on Food Network. I was proud of that, but also felt it was – and is – so important to maintain humility when you are blessed, and use those blessings for good in the future.
After the show ended, I had to really take a long look at my life and what was best for myself and for my family. Pat and I had been together a long time, and he is a wonderful man and father. But things just weren’t working, and I wasn’t in the best place. To make a long story short, I didn’t want to end our marriage, but at the end of the day, I needed it for my own peace. The past two years have been a major transition, but I am in a really positive place right now. And I still love “love.” I still believe in it and always will.
What’s next for you? What are your primary goals for the future?
I think the show and the spotlight, in the end, gave me the confidence and courage to try new ventures and finally feel comfortable in front of the camera – and the microphone. I don’t want to do just any job…I want to make sure my upcoming projects involve positive messaging. There is enough negativity out there today. I started a Facebook page for others to share their stories and I’ve received some very inspirational messages of hope.
I am really encouraged about what is next…whether a book, television show, radio, public appearances, or all of the above – I want to continue to share my story and message: make sure you are truly happy, do what you love and love what you do! We can overcome obstacles and challenges with the right support, attitude and belief system. I feel like it was a blessing for Gina Neely to have the name for what I need to do in the future. I look forward to what lies ahead!
Gina is available to book for speaking engagements nationwide. For more information or to request a booking, please contact Executive Speakers Bureau at 901.754.9404 or via email: email@example.com.