In Conversation with Suzanne Somers
You gained celebrity status on the hit shows Three’s Company and Step by Step, have written 27 books and have become the voice and face of alternative medicine. Can you share a little more about how you began your career?
It was never in the plan. In fact, I had no plan. At that time in the 60’s, girls were expected to learn to type, get a job, meet a nice fellow, get married and have babies.
My scenario did not fit that narrative. I had a baby one month after my 19th birthday from the first and only time I had ever had sex. My granddaughter recently said. “wait a minute you mean you lost your virginity and got pregnant on the same day?” I grew up in a small town, where no one ever got divorced and always did the “right thing.” If you became pregnant, abortion was out of the question, and you HAD TO marry the father. I did the ‘right’ thing and I was miserable, except for my little baby. When I laid my eyes on him for the first time, I said out loud, ‘I promise I’m going to make a good life for you.” Those were the actual words I said to him when they pulled him from my body. Looking back it was kind of profound that a teenager took the responsibility so seriously. I divorced my husband one year after we married and began a life on my own unequipped, uneducated, in fact, the only place I succeeded was in high school by getting the lead as Adelaide in “Guys and Dolls.” However at the time, an incredible thing happened, Walter Winchell who at that time was an incredibly famous radio personality and a true character who always wore a signature outfit including, a trench coat and a beige small brimmed hat, came to the closing night of my high school musical. At the end of our standing ovation the drama teacher (who by the way had been very sexually inappropriate with me – creep) asked us all to sit down. Then, Winchell came on stage, walked right up to me and with his very heavy New York accent said “you’re goin’ someplace sister.”
After that, I got a scholarship to college and I was ecstatic because I would be the first person in my family to go to college. It was two months into my freshman year that I discovered I was pregnant with my son.This was my ‘prep’ to go on to become the biggest TV star of that time.
Did you develop this passion in parallel to your acting career?
I always say often, the negatives in life are our opportunities. I was diagnosed with breast cancer 20 years ago and it was a gift in disguise. At the time you don’t think so, but there’s always a lesson in every negative. I had to ask myself, “what have I been doing in my diet and lifestyle habits that I have played host to this terrible disease
In thinking about my life, I realized I wasn’t seriously thinking about the food I was eating and I wasn’t even aware of organic or non-organic food. I also didn’t realize the value in on a good nights sleep. I wrote my books at night thinking I was ahead of the game because the phone wasn’t ringing and I didn’t have any interruptions – that was stupid! When you hear the words – you have cancer – it was like someone shook my shoulders to wake me up. It was then I decided rather than filling my body with chemical poisons, I would eat as though my life depended upon it, which it did, and I also learned to value sleep for the same reasons. Additionally, I decided I would think positive thoughts as much as possible and seriously consider everything I put in and on my body.
That’s how my organic line started! I collaborated with a formulator and together we created Suzanne Organics, which has earned the prestigious ‘certified toxic free’ insignia, which means it has to be grown organically, Extracted organically and nothing of upwind or downwind of the product can be toxic to contaminate it.
I always say if it if you look at your skin under a microscope, what we know as pores actually look like big holes under the microscope. Now imagine rubbing chemical creams over those big holes, which of course, go right in the bloodstream and then they go on a rampage.
Also, the THIGHMASTER (at last count sold over 10 million units) was no small things. Gaining on it is the FACEMASTER a non-surgical face lift machine that I swear by. I use it every morning and I truly believe it has turned the clock back on my face about 10 years.
Your most recent launch is the book “A New Way To Age”, which explores alternative and more natural ways to age gracefully. Can you tell us what inspired you to write this book?
I’ve written 27 books and A NEW WAY TO AGE may be my best. I turned 73 this year and realized I felt on top of the world – loving the way I look and feel and being madly in love with my husband of 50 years, keeps you young! However, this book takes you from the the novice who doesn’t know anything about an alternative health lifestyle to the ‘already convinced‘ and on the fast moving train of what is available to turn back the clock without taking any drugs.
I am not anti-pharmaceutical, when you need them you need them and they are a godsend, however I like to try alternatives first and then only if absolutely necessary resort to allopathic medicine. From what they say, my readers seem to feel the same.
Your career can best be defined as multi-faceted. What are you currently focusing on?
Well as an author I always have one or more books running around in my head that I want to write next. Currently I’m working on remodeling our brand new house, but work-wise i’m very excited about our three Facebook live shows weekly. We host them every Tuesday and Friday at 5:00PM PT and have become America’s biggest virtual cocktail party where viewers bring their own tequila and salty appetizers.
Also, on Wednesdays we usually host a cooking show in the same format. I love the Facebook live shows and think it is better than doing my own talk show on a network, which I have done. I found every time I have started my own network or syndicated talk show that they become over-produced. It was imperative to hire multiple producers, a large backstage crew and it can become very forced.
During my Facebook live shows, I have no producers, I have no people telling me what to say , it’s completely free form and at this stage of the game at 73 years old. with all the knowledge I have garnered and the incredible wisdom that comes with being 73, I believe these are the best shows I’ve ever done In my career.
What is the biggest challenge you have encountered during your career and what did you learn?
The biggest challenge of my career was being fired. That’s hard. Especially when it’s unfair.
I was at the top of my game, Three’s Company was number one and I had the highest demographics of any woman in television. I brought enormous visibility to the show, averaged 52 or more national magazine covers yearly, appearing in my own TV specials plus other people‘s TV specials and then when my contract needed renewing I got fired so the network could make the point that women shouldn’t feel they should be paid equal with men.
I had to do a lot of soul-searching over that , and decided that I would make this work FOR ME ! That I would need to reinvent and figure out what it was that attracted people to what it was that I do. Out of this came numerous TV shows but most profound was writing all my books. This year I completed my 27th book but I have five running around in my head (at the moment) ! I garnered a lot of confidence and realized I was Multidimensional and that there were many arenas in which I could succeed. It Energized me , excited me and I’ve never looked back.
What is your proudest accomplishment to date?
Giving birth to my son at 19 and watching him grow into a fine and successful person. He runs his own business, he is not into drugs or alcohol and never has been, so somewhere along the road I did the right thing.
How has your industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
The pandemic has hit the people in my industry the same way it’s affected the entire country. I’m hoping that very soon we can back up and back to work.
In what ways have you had to pivot since COVID-19 hit? You have a very engaged Facebook following – how have you been able to stay in touch with your audience during these unprecedented times?
I’ve been essentially unaffected by the quarantine because I work from home both as a writer and host of my Facebook live shows. I’d like to say I was so smart, but this is what I’ve been doing all along so my life hasn’t changed much. I know others in our business have been devastated by no income coming in and none of the excitement of the pursuit. My heart goes out to them.
Where do you see your career in the next 5 or 10 years? Do you have any exciting projects in the pipeline?
In the next five or ten years, I expect to be back on the Vegas stage. I always said I wanted to be headlining at age 80 and I plan to be there.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Being an Entreprenista is who I am and everything I described here, fills the parameters of an Entreprenista. I love it, I love what I do, I love every day! I’m a happy woman, who likes the way I look and feel and I look forward to many years ahead.
For more insights into Suzanne’s incredible journey, check out her podcast episode here!