No doubt, this is Tensie Taylor’s season.
Just a smidge over a year ago, Taylor realized a lifelong dream as a contestant on “Wheel of Fortune.” Since then, she’s been in the audience of “The Boris & Nicole Show,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “Dr. Phil.”
She was a consumer product reviewer on The CW’s “Hatched” and debuted as an extra in Angela Bassett’s Lifetime movie about the late R&B great Whitney Houston. She’s also tallied interviews with more than 300 celebrities as host of “Rich Girl Network,” an online show that takes her to Los Angeles eateries and lands her on Hollywood red carpets.
Now 2016 is off to a bang with invitations to the People’s Choice Awards, NAACP Image Awards, the BET Celebration of Gospel and more.
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But that’s not even the big news I bring.
On Jan. 26, Taylor will debut the book she promised: “BULLIED from Terror to Triumph, My Survival Story.”
It comes on the heels of Taylor’s contribution to “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Possible.” Her story in the book is about overcoming bullying.
“I sit back at night sometimes and think, a small girl from the small town of Louisburg, North Carolina, is living the dream of people I watched on TV and admired from afar – people I now have an opportunity to interview, meet and call my friends,” Taylor told me. “Anything is possible if you have faith, courage, perseverance and determination.”
Taylor, a 2009 graduate of N.C. State University, worked for two years in the NCSU Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity before heading to the University of Southern California to earn a master’s in education. Now she’s the assistant director of USC’s Black Alumni Association.
Taylor self-published “BULLIED” through Greensboro-based Lee’s Press & Publishing Co.
“She has a great story and there are a lot of people who need to hear her story,” publisher William Lee Jr. said. “She’s done some amazing work.”
In the book’s 24 chapters, Taylor recounts being bullied from kindergarten through high school. She was tormented mentally, physically and emotionally for her petite size and stature; for her eyes; and because she’s smart.
“I’m very vulnerable in the book,” said Taylor, 28, rattling off chapter titles such as “Big-Eyed Freak” and “A Sleepover Almost Turns Deadly.”
A deadly sleepover? Taylor said she was invited to a sleepover only as a pawn for the host-girl who tried to smother her with her bigger body and a pillow, then threatened to “finish me off if I told her mother.”
At 16, Taylor said, “I tried to kill myself.”
But we’ll have to read “BULLIED” to learn more.
“It’s not just a depressing story,” Taylor said. “I have humor, anecdotes and other cute little stories. I talk about good memories, too.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti honored Taylor as the Dinner Committee Member of Inspiration for her work with USC and for her passion to end bullying.
“I found the light and that light helped me keep going,” Taylor said of her experiences. “I just needed to find a better way and, once I found that way, nothing can stop me. I’m determined to take over the world and make all my dreams come true.
“All that negative energy they threw my way in school, I blocked it and went on in spite of.”
The book also includes statistics and resources for suicide prevention and counseling.
Already, celebrities such as Anthony Anderson are helping promote “BULLIED,” and a Long Beach, Calif., book club has chosen the book and wants to meet Taylor.
In March, she will join the Anti-Defamation League’s anti-bullying campaign kickoff in Santa Barbara, Calif., and will work alongside USC alumni John Singleton, Shonda Rhimes and DeVon Franklin as honorees of the USC Black Alumni Association’s 40th anniversary.
Taylor also will be part of “Too Dope to Bully,” a photo campaign in LA featuring folks who stand against bullying and encourage others to take a pledge to not bully.
Up next for Taylor is her plan to book a national commercial.