Sunny Anderson

Dream Chaser: Food Network's Sunny Anderson On Being A Jane Of All Trades

Radio-journalist-turned-Food-Network-host Sunny Anderson is next up in VIBE's "In A League Of Their Own" series.

It's hard to argue with destiny. Sometimes the universe sets you on a path that you've only discussed with yourself internally, just to see it eventually come into fruition after a little bit of elbow grease. Food guru Sunny Anderson's life is full of these moments. The multitalented army brat has flowed seamlessly throughout a wide variety of industries, but they all fall under one simple career mission: to communicate what she loves.

Anderson just so happens to have many loves. Before her current spot on Food Network's Cooking For Real and role as co-host on The Kitchen, she started off as an Air Force journalist assigned to radio instead of her initial desire of writing the evening news. After continuing with radio in several smaller U.S. markets, she became a radio host at Hot 97 in New York. Then, she moved her way to cheffing it up on screen full-time and penning the New York Times bestselling cookbook, Sunny's Kitchen: Easy Food for Real Life.

That may seem like a scatterbrained career path to some, but for Sunny, it was just a blessing of being able to monetize all the things she genuinely loved. "You have to be careful with what you love because it can turn into a career," she tells VIBE. "I literally was only cooking because I loved it. And then it turned into career."

There's power in fearlessly chasing the desires of the heart, no matter how risky of a pursuit it may be. But you know the old saying: no risk, no reward. "I can always go backwards," she says, "but in order to go back, you have to go forward! There's nothing back there unless you go forward."

Here, Sunny holds little back as she talks about "supporting her fears with knowledge," finding the strength to say "no" to small scale opportunities and her steadfast pursuit of goals.

On industry transitions not equating to career changes:
A lot of times people ask me about my career changes and to me its the easiest thing to explain. This isn't a career change. I never really made a career change. My career has always been communicating what I'm interested in to the masses. There are so many things I love in life and it's not a career change if all you're doing is communicating what you love.

Advice to people scared to switch it up after stability:
I'm always being me, so it's never been difficult for me to move on. A lot of times people have trouble with moving on because they are comfortable and they do know they're doing well and they do know this is a good job, why leave it? So here's what I'd say to that. If you do think you're at the top of your game and you know everything and you're doing well and you're excellent, okay then. Go do something else. If it doesn't work out, you can go right back to that excellent shit because you said you were good at it, right? So then can you support your fears with your knowledge? Just give it a try. This is the only time I'll be conscious in this body and in this skin, so if I can get to New York at 26 at Hot 97, which I felt was the top of radio, then do you stop? No you don't stop. Another thing I like to tell people is are you breathing? Your heart's pumping right? Guess what, your brain did that. Did you think about it? Did you make it happen? Okay, so when your brain tells you you might have an idea of something to do, this thing is so powerful it is pumping blood and air through you. So if you have a dream or thoughts in your head, do you mean to tell me that you're going to ignore that? It's making you breathe right now! So imagine if the idea that it gave you makes you breathe as well? I'm breathing, I'm listening to what feels right. No one's going to take a chance on you if you don't take a chance on yourself. And like I said, I can always go back. I feel confident not cocky but confident that I can call up many radio stations and say listen, I'd like to come back and I think I can find myself a place. There's comfort in the knowledge of that.

The key to being authentic on camera:
First of all, I don't have an embarrassment gene. I got that from my parents. I can be embarrassed for others but for me, it's just a crazy story to tell. You know like when girls take a picture and before they put it on social media they check and make sure they like it. I don't even care, because I feel like there are a thousand images of myself out there and a thousand moments I'm going to be on TV. I really can't care about what people want. If I'm making everybody happy, I'll make nobody happy. Everybody has a different idea of what they think I should be. Well guess what? I know who I am, so to me it's never been difficult. Ever since I stepped off Emeril's stage that first time, the producers said to me I'm a natural and I look like I'm having a good time when I'm on camera. I didn't even know where the camera was. You're supposed to know which camera because the red light turns on but I just went into a zone. I don't think twice. I just open my mouth. If you're yourself, whatever comes out, that's you. Sometimes I surprise myself, but I'm always okay with it.

On redefining mentorship:
I don’t think I view mentors in the same way that a lot of people do. I think people view mentors as "I see what you’re doing and I’d like to emulate that. Can you help or can you show me how to get there?" I’ve never gone to anyone in that way, but what I have realized in my career is the invisible mentor – the person that does want to teach me something and I didn’t ask. What I invite people to do is if you’re looking for a mentor or finding a mentor in the position that you want, find the mentor that hires the person in the position that you want. They are the ones that can tell you how to get that job. Usually people that get the job really don’t tell you how to get it. And there’s more than one path to get there. If someone were to come with me and say ‘Sunny I want to get on Food Network can you help me? ‘ I don’t know because it was crap shoot when I did it and I went broke for two years. I don’t know if I can help you out. I know it seems like I could, but I don’t know how I got here. I mean, I know I put in the work. But instead at looking at me for a mentor, look for the person that hires me. Go get the producer because they know who they are looking for. I have no idea what they are looking for. I was just being me.

The beauty in pairing patience with persistence:
For the last couple of years or so, I've wanted more out of my position at the network. It's that glass ceiling that I was talking about at radio. Financially you get paid more on primetime, but to me it's more of a promotion. Hey, you did awesome for us on daytime now we're going to give you a promotion. It's less of the money and more of the feeling like I've done a good job. And I know I have, so promote me! I've been pitching primetime show ideas and I've been telling them I want a primetime show. More recently, I've been actually telling them no on other things. They'd come to me to do a one off on a primetime show. No, I don't want to be your salt and pepper. I want to be your meat. I don't want to be the seasoning. I can't tell you how hard it's been for the last couple of years every time you get a show call from the network and it's not primetime to tell them no because you're afraid you're not going to get invited to that primetime party ever again and then now you're not going to get invited to the daytime party. For a very long time, I made the difficult decision to tell people offering me a perfectly find job no because I knew what I wanted. Don't call her because she ain't gon' take that. And last night [knocks on wood], I got a call for a primetime show.

It's so hard in business to stand up for what you really want and turn down perfectly fine positions and perfectly fine money when you know what you feel like you deserve. I will tell someone no until I'm blue in the face for things that I know aren't for me just so I can have that one moment in the sun. I'm very happy because you really do have to be willing to wait for what you want and in a real way meaning you don't even take what's not for you. I'll starve because I know what I want. At least they're giving me a chance, and that's all I ask in life.

Don't be too scared of failure or brokeness to chase a dream:
I had a job at this radio station doing sales and I came up with this term. I call it the 8:59:59 job. If you're at an 8:59:59 job you might want to leave it. You pull up and you sit in that car in the parking lot until 8:59:59, then you walk upstairs at 9 o'clock and you deal with the day. Then you leave at 5 o'clock on the dot. If you're doing that, this ain't it. There's gotta be something you can do that can make you happier. It might not make you money, but happiness is soul money. When I was doing that sales job I thought, this ain't it. That let me know that this is what a lot of people feel. A lot of people feel this but they don't know what it is. It's where you're not supposed to be. If you can deal with a little bit of anxiety and the fear of the unknown of the future and a little struggle to go chase down what it is, you might end up in a better place.

My musical tastes:
I love Rapsody. I think her appearance on Kendrick Lamar’s [album] solidified it for me. I love Jamla [Records]. I got 9th Wonda to score one of my seasons on Food Network, which was difficult but I made them do it. I’m just in love with the fact that this artist is getting so much love. In addition to that, I’m from Texas so I’m a Scarface head. It’s been a long time since Public Enemy, ‘Pac and a little bit of Eminem had me stuck but that whole Kendrick album had me stuck. I can’t cook to ‘em but I’ll eat to ‘em.

My personal favorite meal:
Grandma’s red velvet cake for appetizer, my dad would make his turkey, my mom would make mac and cheese, and my grandma would make greens with pork. We’d still end the meal with my grandma’s squash pie.

An ideal compromise meal that's great for the body and soul:
Chicken is king if you just want to feel comfortable and good about yourself. Fish is king. There is a recipe I have for butterflied chicken. You cut it, you butterfly it and use this orange glaze that I do. What I love about it is, is here you got the lean chicken and then you have a little bit of sweet because there is some glaze. So then you don’t feel too bad. And I usually serve it with asparagus and potatoes. Potatoes have lots of great vitamins in them and with asparagus, obviously everything green is good for you. And the chicken is not bad. It’s a lean meat and there's just a little bit of sugar with the glaze. It’s better than doing barbecue chicken where it’s like 360 degrees surrounded in sugar coated goodness.

Why I list my heart's desires:
You should make mini lists of goals in your life. It’s smart because it’s a numbers game. The cool thing about goals is if you have a whole lot of them and chances are you get one, it will embolden you to chase the others because that feeling is so amazing. Accomplishing is so amazing and you just want to do it again. People that are one-track-minded... I don’t know how you live that. I have a lot of things I want to get done. If you have other things that can make you happy and they keep on happening, you can’t just have a couple of things; have a lot on your list to get done. Then you’ll never feel like a failure. I haven’t gotten everything that I wanted, but it’s ok. I didn’t get to write the evening news in the military like I wanted. But at the end of the day things turned out alright. Relax and know that there is a plan and you are not in charge. Just do what feels right.

The definition of a boss:
Being a boss means making a decision, feeling good about it and trusting your gut even if your employees or employer doesn’t see it your way and taking care of yourself. No apologies to yourself for making mistakes. Just brush it off and move on.

Photo Credit: Sunny Anderson's New York Times' Bestseller 'Sunny's Kitchen: Easy Food for Real Life'

VIBE Presents: In A League Of Their Own
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One-Woman Show: A Closer Look At Soledad O’Brien
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Poetry In Motion: Ballerina Misty Copeland On Standing Out
Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: Meet Lifestyle Connoisseur, Miss Diddy
Nothin’ But Sweat: Meet Personal Trainer, Massy ‘Mankofit’ Arias
Ladies First: ESPN’s Cari Champion On Taking Charge In A Male-Dominated Industry
Last Laugh: Aisha Tyler On Being A Woman In Comedy
Fortune Cookie: Taraji P. Henson On Building Your Own Empire
High Notes: Meet BMI Vice President, Catherine Brewton
Flex Zone: Meet Hollywood Trainer, Jeanette Jenkins
Down For The Cause: Meet Petals-N-Belles Founder, Damali Elliott
Controlling The Narrative: Meet Marketing Maven, Tricia Clarke-Stone
Electric Lady: Janelle Monae On Starting A Movement
Voice Of Power: Angie Martinez On Making Bold Moves
Homerun Hitter: Egypt Sherrod On Planning Your Next Takeover
Breaking Barriers: Meet First Latina CEO Of Girl Scouts, Anna Maria Chávez
Super Powers: Tia Mowry-Hardrict On Balancing Career, Motherhood And Marriage
The People’s Champ: Meet FYI Brand Communications CEO, Tammy Brook
Red Carpet Slayer: Meet E! News’ Alicia Quarles

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Genres Aside, Here Are Our 25 Favorite Songs Of 2018

Keeping up with all of the music from 2018 was a full-time job, with loads of songs releasing every week and not enough ears to keep track. But the volume of music comes with an advantage: there’s something for everybody. Fittingly, our list of the 25 Best Songs of 2018 represents the multi-genre mayhem that is in everyone’s playlists this year.

Some of the entries on our list, like cuts by Drake, Travis Scott and Childish Gambino, were at the forefront of the conversation in 2018, dominating streaming services and radio around the country. Indie darling Saba made waves, and he’s included here as well. Jazz wizard Kamasi Washington dropped some of the best protest music of the year. But there are also some songs on this year’s list that spoke to the VIBE Tribe in a different way. Cardi B had hits all year, but an album cut impressed us most; Usher and Zaytoven’s new album didn’t make a huge splash commercially, but one of its songs appears here. And Beyonce appears on one of the best songs of the year that never even saw an official release–but that didn’t stop us from including it here.

Music broke the rules this year, and so did we. Read below, and tell us what surprise choices are making your songs of the year list.

READ MORE: Debate Us: The 30 Best Albums Of 2018

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A look back at the collaborator's up and down relationship.
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Remember The Time: 10 Times Drake And Kanye West Were Stronger Together

Kanye West and Drake aren’t exactly in the best place at the moment. West’s Dec. 13 Twitter rant detailed their issues, in which he accuses Drake of “sneak dissing” and threatening him.

“You sneak dissing on [Travis Scott] records and texting Kris [Jenner] talking about how’s the family.” he wrote among many other tweets and allegations against the Scorpion MC.

While this is a bump in the road, the two haven’t always been enemies. Despite the shenanigans surrounding them, Kanye West and Drake have had a very fruitful relationship. All drama aside, the duo have created many memorable moments in hip-hop and pop culture. They’ve written and recorded some incredible songs and shared countless stages during concerts and tours.

To abstain from dwelling on the negativity, VIBE has collected a list of moments taking you through the high points in the rappers’ relationship. Check it out below.


Drake's Freestyles Over Many Beats By 'Ye

Before he was one of the most sought-after rappers in the world, Drizzy has looked up to Kanye West and sampled his work. For “Say What’s Real,” a single off his mixtape So Far Gone, the “In My Feelings” MC sampled Yeezy’s “Say You Will” off of his 2008 album 808s & Heartbreak. The admiration continued throughout the years, resulting in more freestyles over songs like “Swagga Like Us” and “Barry Bonds.” Both tracks feature beats created by the Chi-town native. 

‘Thank Me Later’ Proves Their Shared Power 

After meeting in 2009, the duo came together to bring Drake's Thank Me Later album to the next level. They collaborated on two tracks- the futuristic love songs “Show Me A Good Time,” and “Find Your Love.” With West holding down production, deep-pocketed 808’s and table-top scratch sounds were highlighted. The accolades for the latter song resulted in the No. 5 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 charts as they created their own lane.

Drake Calls Kanye “The Most Influential Person”

In a 2009 interview, the then-industry rookie had some nice words for West. Speaking specifically about the 41-year-old’s 808’s and Heartbreak album, the Toronto rapper described ‘Ye as "the most influential person” who was important to young emcees in the game.

"Before I ever got the chance to meet him, Kanye West shaped a lot of what I do, as far as music goes," Drake said. He knows how to utilize great sounds and great music. So before I met him, I had the utmost respect for Kanye West. I'd even go as far as to say he's the most influential person as far as a musician that I'd ever had in my life."

Their Collaborations On Wax 

The pair has been making music together for nearly 10 years, with some standout tracks including “Forever,” the remix to “All Of The Lights,” and “Pop Style.” On their 2017 song “Glow” off of Drake’s playlist More Life, both rappers discuss their growing, limitless success. West was rumored to initially appear on Drizzy’s smash-hit “Nice For What.” He reportedly had a verse on the critically-acclaimed track until the beef between Drake and his G.O.O.D. Music cohort Pusha T became lethal.

The Joint Mixtape That Never Happened

Drake and Kanye are no strangers when it comes to making joint albums with other artists. Drake worked with Future on the platinum-selling album What A Time To Be Alive, while Kanye released Watch The Throne with JAY-Z to critical acclaim. However, it has been hinted for the longest time that the two were working on a full-length album of their own.

Kanye confirmed the plan to release an album with Drake to Vogue in 2016, shortly after hinting at a joint project during OVO Fest. The Take Care rapper co-signed the announcement, saying "What my brother was asking before was, are you ready if we make an album?"

Drake Writing For Kanye’s ‘The Life Of Pablo’

Drake wrote a song for Kanye’s 2016 effort, The Life of Pablo. The Canadian hip-hop star helped pen the Isaac Hayes and Nelly-sampled “30 Hours.” Drizzy was also reportedly on the original, unreleased version of Pablo’s “Wolves,” which featured Icelandic artist Bjork (the album version features Vic Mensa and Sia).

The Duo Become Friendly, Competitive Neighbors

By the time of their initial meeting in 2009, Kanye already clocked in nearly a decade of music industry knowledge, and Drake was making the transition from teen TV star to full-time rapper. But who would have thought the duo would have eventually become actual neighbors?

Drake eventually moved to Calabasas, Calif.- a neighborhood in Los Angeles many celebrities call home- around the same time West began publicly dating his now-wife, Kim Kardashian. In the 2016 bop “Summer Sixteen,” Drizzy jokes, “Now I got a house in LA, now I got a bigger pool than Ye / And look man, Ye’s pool is nice, mine's just bigger's what I’m saying.”


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There goes the neighborhood

A post shared by champagnepapi (@champagnepapi) on Nov 7, 2016 at 3:05am PST

Kanye Supports OVO Fest

Drake created a hip-hop festival called OVO Fest in 2010. Not only does it feature notable acts in urban music, but it also gave a platform to upcoming artists from Canada who might not have gotten a platform back home. Kanye West was one of the first supports of the music event, performing at three of the festivals.

He also admitted that Drake inspired him and JAY-Z to record Watch The Throne during 2013’s OVO Fest, stating, "Me and Hov would've never made Watch the Throne if this ni**a wasn't putting pressure on us like that, so I just wanna pay my respects.”

Kanye Apologizes To Drake Over G.O.O.D. Music Album Rollouts

Earlier this fall, Kanye West apologized to Drake in a series of tweets for planning the rollout of albums by artists under his G.O.O.D music roster around the proposed release of Scorpion.

In one of the tweets, Kanye wrote “Let me start by apologizing for stepping on your release date in the first place. We were building a bond and working on music together including squashing the issues with Cudi at our office.” In another tweet, ‘Ye revealed that he never listened to the diss tracks between him and Pusha, and didn’t have conversations regarding Drake’s child with him.

Let me start by apologizing for stepping on your release date in the first place … We were building a bond and working on music together including squashing the issues with Cudi at our office.

— ye (@kanyewest) September 5, 2018

They Shared Laughs Over Meek Mill Memes

Drake and Meek Mill were in an infamous feud back in 2015. After performing his diss track aimed at Meek- "Back to Back”- at the 2015 OVO Fest, Drizzy, Kanye, and Will Smith enjoyed a laugh over the countless memes mocking the Philly MC.

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Debate Us: The 30 Best Albums Of 2018

What a year 2018 has been for music lovers.

Listeners enjoyed a buffet of diverse melodies, savoring in the choice of curating the tunes they craved as opposed to consuming more than they can digest. Rumored albums from veterans like Lil Wayne's Tha Carter V and The Carters' first joint project battled its way to the top of our personal charts alongside music's innovators like Noname, The Internet, Buddy, and Janelle Monae.

Within that aforementioned list of artists, a new generation of lyricists and vocalists found their footing with fans and critics alike. The rising crop of talent released projects that should motivate each of them to carve out space for forthcoming awards. While we took into account the albums released from Dec. 1, 2017 to Nov. 20, 2018, that moved us emotionally, we also checked off a list of requirements like replay value, overall production, critical reception, and cultural impact.

Here are the 30 albums (in alphabetical order, not ranked), that instilled pride in our culture, made us take a look within, and encouraged us to appreciate music all over again.

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