You can love Hazel, you can hate Hazel – but you have to respect her hustle.
Hazel-E is reality TV royalty with a resume many celebs will envy. Hazel entertain millions of people worldwide with appearances on shows such as Love & Hip Hop Hollywood, Iyanla Fix My Life and most recently she starred on Marriage Boot Camp Hip Hop Edition with ‘the love of her’ and husband life De’von Waller.
Hazel’s impressive career started in Hollywood over a decade ago when she launched her pr company Hazel Eyes PR, to nurture Hollywoods young talent. Hazels innate determination to be successful inspired the famous pr guru to step in front of the camera, making her the centre of attention ever since. Hazel founded Girl Code Inc, released a plethora of music, and even has a best-selling book under her belt.
Naturally, a brilliant mogul minded businesswoman, a wonderful wife and doting mother to her adorable princess Ava-Dior, we are excited to see what 2021 brings for Hazel-E. Let’s say we predict the expansion of her empire. Read our exclusive interview below.
How did you get into the entertainment business?
Hazel-E: After college, I started working as a casting agent, getting people extra work. Then I was in the mall, and I got spotted and was offered to be a double for Raven Symone on Disney for a little while. Then I saw a show called Power Girls; it was about Lizzy Grubman and her being a dope female publicist. I got my degree in Mas Comms and decided I wanted to be a publicist.
I applied for an internship with Echo Haddix at Echo Inc Sound, and I became one of the top publicists out in Hollywood. Hollywood was my playground; I had Megan Good, Khloe Kardashian, Ray J, Chris Brown. I was running the up and coming young Hollywood scene. It started with publicity.
Wow, just hearing some of the names you are mentioning, it’s like some people try to sleep on you, you have been doing this, you are not new to this at all.
Hazel-E: I am not new, I’ve had 20 years in the game, you know I started as a publicist. The first campaign I got to run was Gnarles Barkley, and we won 2 Grammy’s that year.
“People try to play, social media tries to play with me, but you never hear other celebs playing with me. You never see big names discrediting me, I throw out many people names and you never hear them saying that I’m lying. That’s how you know its real.”
I can take over social media at any given moment. I go viral with my eyes shut, and that’s because when I learned pr, they said: “you need to know how to work online, we’re not going to teach you print or tv. This online publicity is starting to take off, so learn how to work that.”
So imagine me starting at an internship learning how to service and do pr online? Now, look where we are today. People need to understand this online game is my backyard. It is what I got trained in, which is why I can pretty much run it today.
As I said, I threw out many names, and no one has never once come out to discredit me. You can go on Getty, wire images and my history is there, it doesn’t get erased. Its no cap, it’s all facts.
I must be honest, hearing what you are saying, I feel angry that people try to play with you!
Hazel-E: Sometimes they play, sometimes it’s the younger demographic who might not know, People who watch Marriage Boot Camp say: Oh what clout does she have? What people did she start in the game? And it’s like you can put my name in Google and then you will be shocked. Like Neyo – So Sick, His first song campaign, Trey Songz, Juelz Santana, all of them had that Hazel Eyes PR/Echo Inc Sound touch.
From there, I wanted to get into music. I was working in pr, and I believe it was after Gnarles Barkley did the VMA’s this man Idris Elba hired me to throw him a Halloween party, and I did a killer job. It was DJ Dris aka Idris Elba’s first time as an American DJ. After he said Hazel, what would you like to do with yourself? I replied, I want to rap! He said, OK, send me what you got. I sent him a couple of tracks, and he was like yeah I’m going to manage you, and I want to do your project. So me and DJ Dris put out my first mixtape in 2009 called Shoe Fetish.
I’m sure you’re familiar with DJ Dris and Shogun over in the UK. So my first introduction into the music side of the industry was through that. We also had Megan Good feature in the music video for Valley Girl. That’s how we kicked off with Hazel E, the rapper.
It just goes to show you never really know who you are speaking with. I feel like you got the pr game so much on lock, the younger demographic doesn’t understand you are in the championship level in terms of knowing how to brand yourself, and all you have done and achieved. I wish we knew more and got to see more. The shows are not portraying you for who you truly are. You are well established, on the shows, it seems like you are blowing your own trumpet when you are not. You’re just speaking the truth.
Hazel-E: It is just the truth which is why I can do the stuff that I do. I know who I am, I know what I’ve done. I brought the Love & Hip-Hop Hollywood franchise to Hollywood, like that was my idea. I wrote the cast profiles. I got Ray. J, Tierra Marie, Masika Kalysha, Yung Berg and all these names on board. I took it to mona, brought it to Hollywood, and then turned Hollywood out.
If you pay attention, all of the storylines revolved around me; everybody had scenes with me. I was like the person in the middle, kind of making it all happen because I was the one who brought it there.
It is disappointing how I fell out with some of my friends that I put on the show. I think that’s how the image came about, but they all know, and Mona said it. People are now going back to re-watch season one, especially after the “Conversation”. They’re like Hazel did put all this stuff together. I’m like yeah I did, sitting in the living room in Hollywood high with Tierra Marie, Jessica White and Lola Monroe. I wrote the whole situation out. It all stems from my pr background.
I was doing the Hollywood thing, throwing the hottest parties, getting on my red carpet was a big deal. BET Awards, MTV, I have been there and done it all, Grammys two, three, four times with Tank. Its was so much like I was that little person in Hollywood, and it just kept going and going.
Now I’m in front of the camera, and it’s like I am just Hazel E, this is only one of the many avenues or entities that I am. A boss is a boss, and a mogul is a mogul.
Diddy is not only one thing. He is a brand, an artist, a producer, and he’s a business owner. We have a variety of successful ventures, and to me, that is what defines me as a mogul. It’s not because I’m Hazel E and I’m lit, and I’m on the shade room all the time or going viral.
Several different entities come together that makes me Hazel E, making me the mogul and the boss. You get just one part of me on Love and Hip-Hop, it’s only one small piece of the puzzle.
I first got introduced to you from watching Love and hip hop. On the show you were always the sweet girl, you were a good friend to everybody, always trying to help everyone, connect all the dots putting everything together. Its like people kept trying to take you for a fool. People were unnecessarily rude to you, and then you had to come in and show them who you were.
Hazel-E: Yes definitely, I wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m a Taurus; I trust you until you give me a reason not to when it should be you have to earn my trust. As I navigate more in front on the camera, I am trying to establish more boundaries for that side of my life. I came in so authentic that I didn’t know I’m one of the people the world will love and hate on season one. I’m someone people love to hate. Like you can’t stop talking about me.
I don’t know why people betrayed me or why things went the way it did on tv because all of them know I’m not a sucka. If you look at where we all are now, where is anybody from season one? Where is Tierra Marie right now? Where are those girls, can you find them?
I don’t see where any of them are. I don’t see anyone being talked about. Someone like Masika got a platform because I agreed to give one to her, just like the first time she got on TV. There’s a reason why I’m still relevant. Its been six years since LHH Hollywood has been on and I’ve been off for two seasons, outside of Ray J, Who is more popping than me?…I’ll wait!
All the work and experience you had in pr makes sense on why you know how to work the internet, and go viral. I can see it now. I didn’t pay any attention to you pr background I was more focused on Hazel E the reality star and rapper. I believe you are a lot smarter than what people give you credit for. I feel inspired; I’m thinking Hazel, you need to mentor me! (Chuckles)
Hazel-E: Haha, yeah well you know girl code in we outchea, we’re branding, we’re marketing. It is what it is. I wrote a book and was the first Love & Hip-Hop star to get a book released with Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Target. There are not many reality stars, well at least on the LHH franchise that is college graduates, I’m a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. I don’t know if saying those things or showcasing those things, are in the Love & Hip-Hop storyline. I don’t know if that would have made sense for them. Maybe that’s why they didn’t show it. I put up my college diplomas or my AKA letters several times, and people are floored; like she’s college-educated, she’s a member of the first-ever black sorority. Kamala Harris is in my sorority you know, its just a different level.
I can see why you are so confident. Your confidence is built on real work, your experiences, and connections. I feel like you put the groundwork in, and that is why you can talk the way you talk. This is why ventures like Girl Code Inc is powerful because the boss is powerful.
I have so much respect for you because I did not know that. I heard little bits, but it’s easy to get so caught up in the viral stories and trending moments that you forget that there is a whole person behind the persona—a person with accolades and accomplishments.
Hazel-E:That’s what I’m saying, and so when I saw the Mogul Magazine, I feel like I can grace the cover of that publication because I feel like I am one in my own right.
Like when I said to Masika in the conversation, your daughter would be so proud. I put up on Twitter yesterday – If somebody told me your daughter would be so proud, I would say absolutely, she would be. Her mother’s a college graduate, an Alpha Kappa Alpha member, a kick-ass tv personality, an up and coming executive producer, and several other things. I listed my accomplishments and people are like wow!
That comment would not offend me because I know what she has to look up to. Now that I have a daughter, it means I will go harder. You aren’t going to catch Hazel E on Onlyfans. It’s just not my thing; I know there are many other ways for me to make money besides sitting and playing with myself online.
God gave me so many other gifts you know, some people are so shallow and caught up in what looks good. I’ve always been brains over beauty type chick. The beauty is there, but it’s the brains behind it, and that’s the way I’m raising my child, even though she’s absolutely gorgeous.
What is between you ears is more powerful than what’s between your legs. That’s how I was raised, and that is what I will teach her.
I’m blown away. I feel like people act as if you haven’t done all you have done, almost like they’re kind of playing with you. Talking to you, I understand why you stand so firm in your power.
If I have done all you’ve done there is no way I would belittle myself to make people feel more comfortable, they have to put some respect on your name.
Hazel-E: Thank you for understanding, appreciating, and recognising this. Ray J came into “The Conversation” last week. He said to me “you are an all-star” it’s not because I was Love & hip-hop for four seasons. That’s not what makes you an all-star; it’s your credibility and your resume. People don’t want to pay attention to that, and they don’t want to pay attention to the small things. Ray. J was basically saying “come on; you’re an all-star you already know you make it to do what it do.”
Coming from Ray J, who I predict will go out as a legend in this entertainment game, I mean he helped propel Kim Kardashian. I get stamps from certain individuals. As you said, people are more into the drama of it, but If you listen to the small things, you will get it. How was it that people who are more powerful than me are all in my presence? You got to focus on that.
Can you share the biggest challenge you had to overcome since entering the entertainment business?
Hazel-E: I think for Hazel, the artist & entertainer I would say the social media criticism. People don’t understand how that can affect a person, seeing your name with millions of people’s opinions. Them commenting, talking about you and judging you. It’s a big obstacle because you have to maintain your composure, and be levelheaded. I blacked out on social media several times because I couldn’t handle what people were saying about me, and then you become self-sabotaging. The social media aspect of things is a big challenge. I wasn’t prepared for what was coming. It’s weird as a publicist you know how to work behind the camera; you’re pushing somebody to be the star or the celebrity.
I remember working with Megan good all the time and I’m like “girl we are about to walk through this club and get $10,000. A Quick in & out, I can do this. What are you talking about?” – but I did not understand the pressure until I was in that situation, and then you see thousands of hateful comments saying you’re ugly and your nose is big, your body shaped weird, and your lace isn’t laid. You’re sitting there, and then you start picking yourself apart. You start tearing yourself down. It takes a strong person to get through that and keep pushing on.
Today I don’t give a damn what nobody says about me. It’s not affecting me at all. But it took me a minute to build that level of resilience, the next layer of skin that I needed to continue in this industry. I was not going to be another celebrity that ended up taking their own life or on several antidepressants, not able to wake up in the mornings.
The industry is not a friendly space. It’s not rainbows and sunshine. So I would say it’s the pressure and the criticism. It’s tough; you have to have thick skin to keep pushing, and trying to succeed.
You are the first person to answer that question like that. I’ve asked several people that question and received a variety of answers. Now you have said it; I cannot imagine experiencing what you have gone through. It’s bad enough having your own’s insecurities let alone the world always picking at you.
Hazel-E: They will pick you apart. It’s hard to sit there and not comment back to every person to give them an excuse or reason. It could be I was having a bad day, or I didn’t have a lot of time; that’s why my outfit looks like that. It could be my nail broke; you would sit there and drain yourself out. You will have nothing left if you let it affect you. I let it affect me for my first couple of years on TV.
It took me taking a social media break and going on Iyanla Fix My Life to realise I don’t owe anybody anything, and I don’t owe every comment about me a response. It took that situation, and the counselling on that show to help me rebuild and redirect, or let’s say rebirth myself and come out on the other side.
I feel so good for you. I’m a big believer in energy, and I can’t imagine having hundreds of thousands of people directing negative energy towards me it’s good that you are prepared for this, and you have the tools to block it out. Achieving your goals is the most important thing. Always do what you need to do because people will talk regardless. You can be GODS gift to the planet, and people will still criticise you.
Hazel-E: I have gone on Beyonce’s page, and there are people still talking negatively about Beyonce. Bey is one of the greatest artists and performers of all time, and people are criticising her. At that point, you realise it’s not you; it’s them. Beyonce is not about to sit there and go back and forth with nobody; Bey is like; I’m giving you this, and that’s just what it is. She isn’t dignifying anybody with the response.
It took me having a social media meltdown, clapping back at people to knock it off and change. It is about the energy; I’m over here cleaning chakras, burning candles everything. I will go to Dubai every year just going to be peaceful with the Muslims over there. You can’t bash people on social media over there I had to go to a place whereby law people have to be peaceful to get myself together, go back to Hollywood and continue to stay in it. I had to find things to help me balance it all. So I didn’t go on complete crazy rampages and self-destruct.
I’m glad we had this conversation because I see a side to you that does not get shown often. You are a very levelheaded, smart, brilliant, and wise woman. You know how to work the industry to your advantage so you can get what you want out of it. After all, that is what you are there to do. Get what you want out of the game.
The game is not fair to anyone, and if you got enough experience and know-how to work it to your advantage, that is what you need to do while you can do it. I respect that. I feel even when you stop doing reality TV, you will still be working behind-the-scenes creating more stars, producing shows I can see you going in that direction.
Hazel-E: Yes, that’s the direction I’m heading in, Hazel E is a brand that people love and want on their TV screens. If you got my face on TV, it’s doing numbers. It is verifiable at that point, but to go to the next level is to get the executive producer credits. It’s to go ahead and like you said to create more stars when you come from the PR background that is where the passion is. Making the next person pop, that’s what I did first. I can take you with your dream and vision and turn it up to the next level, making the world aware of you. That was my job; publicity. To shine a light on a person and kind of create stars – to give you star moments.
That is my passion and of course, that is where I will return. It may not be returning to walk talent down the red carpet, but it could turn into executive producing programs and creating the next batch of stars. That’s where heading for 2021.
What are two personal habits that served you well throughout your career?
Hazel-E: I am OCD, so I am a clean and organised person. I’m great to do business with, people love to do business with me, they love me on their sets and love me in their studios because I’m about my business.
I’m not one of those artists who will come in drunk, high and wasting people’s time.
So I think my organisational skills and my OCD helps me to be extra prepared. It helps me because all my ducks are in a row all the time. It allows me to function as a person and be an excellent person to do business. That is something that has served me well. I came in the game with Girl Code Inc; I bought the name Hazel E, we did all that from the start. That has probably helped me have longevity a bit more than some other people on reality TV.
A second personal habit that has done well for me in the industry is not being a hater. I will say I’m truth-teller and staying trill to thyself has served me good because you can tell lies on me all day, but because I know the truth and I’m a truth-teller, it keeps me from not being affected. I don’t have to worry about covering up anything. If you could live in the truth and tell the truth, it will always set you free. A lot these girls will come in the game, and they were telling lies, and don’t even care if they get caught in it. Then they wonder why stuff starts to go downhill.
I tell the truth even if it’s ugly, even if it’s dirty and doesn’t serve me in a good life. If you practice that good habit, people can never call you a liar people. People will always want to work and do business with you because they know you know the truth, and you tell the truth. You don’t have to worry about being shady or snaky. You don’t get the stigma around you or people saying you shouldn’t do business with her. It’s a good habit remaining in truth-teller.
I wish this was a video interview as people don’t get to see the side of you.
Hazel-E: I mean there’s a niche the group of people that watched Iyanla Fix My Life, and they got to see that side of me. Unfortunately, that program doesn’t do the same numbers as Love and Hip-Hop. It’s just the biggest platform that I had which is Love, and Hip-Hop shows another side. So that’s what people think. People watching marriage Boot Camp Hip-Hop edition are like; like Wow, it’s a totally different Hazel. I didn’t like you on Love and Hip-Hop, but I love the real you.
I’m like this isn’t heavily edited footage. We are being filmed 24 hours a day, down to when you’re in your bedroom or waking up with your hair bonnet on, so people see a different unscripted you.
They also see unscripted you on “The Conversation” on the Zeus Network, but unfortunately, those programs don’t do the same numbers as a Love and Hip-Hop. So it’s not that this side is never shown, it’s just not on the same level of platform.
It doesn’t serve a show like Love and Hip-Hop purpose to show me as the levelheaded, intelligent black woman who owns a company. That information is not what keeps their numbers. What keeps the numbers up is Hazel E throwing a drink, talking spicy, looking like this etc. That is what those numbers do.
People say why can’t we have programs that show black women in a better light, and there are some, but unfortunately, those shows don’t get the numbers.
I must admit I like watching those shows, but what I love is that it introduced me to a group of inspiring Black females like yourself, Rasheeda, Kandi, Porsha, Yandy, and more. A group of inspiring women who all got their businesses and are doing great things.
From the UK looking at you all, it is very glamorous. It’s inspirational as I see myself as a businesswoman; I see myself as a mogul. I see Mogul Magazine being as big as Vogue, or Essence one day.
As much as the shows are very drama driven, it’s inspirational because I know what I take from it.
Hazel-E: Right and that’s being a boss, making your way in this industry. You said earlier, making the industry do what you want it to do.
Kandi is a great example she started in a girl group, writing hits songs. People now realise Kandi was the writer for Destiny’s Child. She has done a lot, and people are only just realising that she was the voice behind Destiny’s Child.
I’m surprised you say that as I feel like many strippers and h*es have been winning because of reality TV. I get excited when I see a person like me or somewhere like Yandy, Kandi, you know the women who didn’t do the salacious things to get to the top, I do feel there’s not enough of that on TV.
I feel there is so much of the other side like you’re this celebs baby mother or so and so’s stripper etc. That’s the image in America, and many young girls are looking up to them. Shaking their ass, twerking, driving the latest cars. It’s like damn, there is so much of that and not enough of the girls going to school.
You’re a writer you are here putting the magazine together putting it out; we should be showcasing how some like you gets to the top. There’s only like one June Ambrose that gets to the top but where all the rest. I think there need to be more positive images. Yes, we can get ratchet, I can get ratchet with the best of them, but that doesn’t mean we are cut from the same cloth or our will paths are the same. I wish there were more of the positive.
Last quick question, So you on hip-hop marriage Boot Camp with your partner, do you have any advice for couples in entertainment?
Hazel-E: Yes, going into Married Boot Camp Hip Hop edition, Devan was not in the industry. The challenge was seeing if he can fit into my world.
We needed to be transparent but still have boundaries. We both have rules on social media. I don’t follow men, and he doesn’t follow women so that we don’t get into any entanglements.
It’s about being comfortable like if I’m going to do acting, he doesn’t want me to do any sex scenes. I’m like damn I can get my big break, and my first role can involve sex scene, but he doesn’t want me doing that. So you have to know your limits and boundaries and the things that will make the other person uncomfortable. You may have to say no to a couple of things, but I guarantee you something great will come around the corner. I have been able to be successful in this industry without over sexualising the Hazel E brand.
I may not be as big as some of the other girls who are very over-sexualised, but I make a great living. I have couth, class and integrity. I have bodies of work that I won’t be embarrassed when my child grows up and sees them. Her mum is not over there sucking D@@@ on camera, and then I’m going have to explain that to her one-day.
No, you will not see any of that because I never did any of it, so you have to know boundaries and set them together. You’re interviewing people; maybe your partner doesn’t want you to ask certain questions to a man or something you know. It’s about whatever is comfortable for you both while being in the industry. Just set as boundaries and talk about it and I think everything will be good.
It was a little rocky at first, for example, what you’re not going to do is follow thousand b!tches, you’re not going to be sitting around and liking 1000 b!tches pictures because I will be damned if they’re all like “her man was like in my pictures”. It’s too much!
What is it like being a mother and what can we expect over the next year
Hazel-E: I’m a new mother, so right now is the best thing in the world. You’d never know that Love can even run as deep as it does until you have a child. I was one of those people who didn’t even if I was going to be married and have children, and now that I’m here in that space. There’s no greater fulfilment; there is no job, no clout, there’s no better feeling than being a mum and being a working mum in the industry. I haven’t had a day off since Ava was born.
It’s a great balancing act because I know that doing these jobs will help provide a better future for her. People will ask why did I go back into “The Conversation”?
When there is a certain kind of money being offered that I can bring back home to my family, it makes it worthwhile. It’s a balancing act, and Ava gives me new motivation to go harder.
Next year, I have a show I’m going to be working on with Mona Scott-Young again, we have a show scheduled for 2021, and working with the Zeus Network to bring a show to Houston Texas. I’m trying to put Houston on the map in the TV realm.
The Nation of Hazel is coming with WE TV, and you guys will see an excellent wedding special. You know all the great things with the Wallers, my family and me; the other side of Hazel that you were talking about. What it is like in my everyday life, so right now I’m really in this TV space. I just dropped “Girl Code Volume.2” as far as music goes.
Yeah, just a lot of TV that’s like my playground now, I’m also planning to get my Executive Producer title in 2021.
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All photos courtesy of Hazel-E