Recently, the internationally-acclaimed and award-winning author, ReShonda Tate, was inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame. The honor made Tate one of the few individuals in history to have their name in multiple state literary halls of fame, as Tate was inducted into her home state of Arkansas’ Literary Hall of Fame earlier this year.
The Defender spoke with Tate, who is also a former TV news reporter, current movie screenwriter and producer and the Defender’s managing editor, about her latest honor.
DEFENDER: You’ve received countless awards and honors. What makes this one (being named to the Texas Literary Hall of Fame) different/special?
TATE: It is always wonderful to be acknowledged and appreciated in your home. Texas boasts a number of talented authors so the selection committee has a plethora of talent to choose from. I’m especially honored to be in this select and exclusive class inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame.
DEFENDER: How cool is it to be named to the Literary Hall of Fames of TWO STATES? Who does that?!?!
TATE: Lol. Someone who claims both Arkansas (where my roots are) and Texas (where I grew up and now call home). I moved from Arkansas to Texas at age 10, but my family is still in Arkansas, so it’s home, as well.
DEFENDER: What does Texas do better than Arkansas… and what does Arkansas do better than Texas?
TATE: I plead the Fifth. But I’m side-eyeing both states when it comes to the results of the last midterm elections.
DEFENDER: When did you first move to Texas, and how was that transition?
TATE: I moved here at 10 when my mother remarried. It was hard because I was a country girl, like run around outside barefoot, dig up worms, type of kid. Of course, I couldn’t run anywhere barefoot in Almeda Plaza where I grew up in Southwest Houston. My mother lived here for three years before she would even get on the freeway. We took the feeder road everywhere!
DEFENDER: What Texas experiences (as a child or adult) have had the biggest impact on your writing?
TATE: Hurricane Allison was huge. Besides being terrified, it was the first time we were stuck in the house for days. And my first real memory of sitting down to write was during that time.
DEFENDER: While being a best-selling, award-winning author, you’ve never stopped working a J-O-B or two or three? Why does a billionaire keep working a job?
TATE: Hilarious. Let me go see if I can find a billionaire to ask that question to! But I’ve always been a hustler who believes she is capable of following her dreams – all of them. I love being a journalist. And an author. And an actress. And a movie producer. And who says I can’t do it all? The only limitations I have are the ones I place on myself. And I don’t place any. So, for me the sky’s the limit!
DEFENDER: What’s the next state that’s going to announce you as a member of their Literary Hall of Fame?
TATE: Ha! I really am humbled to be honored and recognized both locally and nationally. I have won the NAACP award for Outstanding Literature. So now it’s time for an Oscar;-).
DEFENDER: How did your Texas schools (UT and Madison HS) shape the author that you have become?
TATE: I am a proud product of HISD. I had the pleasure (though I didn’t know it at the time) of having teachers who saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. My 7th grade teacher at Dick Dowling, Ms. Lillie Lacy, was stern in making me tap into my talent. And my teacher at Madison, the late Dr. Jocelyn Reed, was essential in pushing me to reach beyond my comfort zone. So, teachers like them laid the foundation. I went to the University of Texas at Austin, where my shining light was polished even more.
DEFENDER: What’s next for you?
TATE: Well, outside of journalism, I’m staying busy preparing for my next book, The Queen of Sugar Hill. I’m super excited about this book, which is a biographical fiction story on Hattie McDaniel. A lot of people know her as the first Black woman to win an Oscar, but there’s so much more to her story and I can’t wait to bring it to the masses. It’s a big book that my publisher has big plans for. I’m also producing my first film in 2023. I wrote a Christmas movie that aired on TV One and am currently working on some more movies. So, don’t look for me to sit down any time soon!
Visit the author at www.ReShondaTateBillingsley.com