Diversity Woman Magazine

SUM 2017

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m S u m m e r 2 0 1 7 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N 33 adult life, so education meant every- thing to him." Instead of matriculating on a film set, Peete went to Sarah Lawrence College. She also studied French at the Sorbonne for a year. But the act- ing bug did not go away. N ot many people can say that Howard the Duck represents a turning point in their life. Holly Peete can. When she was a senior in college she got a part on the George Lucas flop (now a cult hit), acting and singing. She knew she had found her place in the world. Her father eventually came around and supported her career choice. "ough he would have preferred I got my master's de- gree instead," says Peete. Her career ascended rapidly. Peete landed on 21 Jump Street for five seasons (1987–1991) and then Hangin' with Mr. Cooper for five seasons (1992–1997). Her career was clearly established— but in terms of her life's work, she was just getting started. P eete has never shied away from expressing her views, even if considered by some as controversial. For example, she has been a vocal advocate of issues affecting African Americans. In 2011, her contract as a cohost of e Talk was not renewed, and there was speculation that the firing was due to her outspoken- ness, an assessment Peete confirms. "I don't buy the notion that because you're an actor you can't have a political point of view," she says. "e irony of that is that there has been an actor in the White House, Ronald Reagan, and now we have a celebrity businessman there as our president. Somehow, that's okay, but if an actor speaks out, we are told to 'stick to acting.' "If Martin Luther King was scared to take a side or Rosa Parks felt like she couldn't take a side, where would I be right now? e only time I do not get political is when I visit my in-laws or when I go to a family dinner. I've made a rule not to talk about politics or religion at the holidays. Otherwise I am going to speak my mind." Peete primarily uses her platform to speak out on issues that affect children. Top on her list are children with special needs, in particular African American kids. Her HollyRod Foundation focuses on families affected by autism and Parkinson's (the dis- ease that afflicted her father, who died from it at 65). > Peete has never shied away from expressing her views, even if considered by some as controversial.

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