how i get it done

How I Get It Done: La La Anthony

La La Anthony.
La La Anthony. Illustration: Lauren Tamaki

La La Anthony is a multi-hyphenate. She got her start as a radio host in high school before heading to MTV to work as VJ on Total Request Live. From there, she went on to host even more shows, broke into Hollywood, wrote two books (The Love Playbook and The Power Playbook), produced a reality show about her wedding and life with NBA star Carmelo Anthony, launched a fashion line, and now, currently stars in Power on Starz. She has an 11-year-old son, and lives in New York. Here’s how she gets it done.

On a typical morning:
I get up, say a quick prayer, and then I go into the bathroom to brush my teeth, wash my face, shower, and get dressed for the day. After that, I immediately go to my son’s room and get ready for the day. I like to have myself ready first so I can focus on getting him to school. Once we do that, I usually start my work day, whether it’s going to Power to film or whatever other work I have. But my mornings are not a typical morning because I can start at 4 a.m. if my call time at work is 5 a.m., so every morning is different. For breakfast, I usually like to do either a protein shake if I’m rushing out the door, or egg whites and turkey bacon are also a go-to for me.

How she works out:
I have a trainer. I love to do regular weight training, and I love to do boxing. On average I try to get in the gym about four times a week, depending on what the schedule is. It’s important for clarity, and it’s important to stay active if you want to feel good about yourself.

On being a teen radio star:
I started out in radio as an intern when I was 16 years old and then I became a radio personality at 17 in Atlanta. Ludacris and I had a show together. It was really cool to be on the radio in high school. All my friends would listen to me, and then I’d go to school, and everyone would be like “I heard you on the radio yesterday!” and “You got to interview this artist!” or “You got to do this!” Starting so young set the pace for my career. I learned to work hard, and started to understand the business so early.

It was an amazing thing. When we went into work every day at TRL, we would see thousands of kids in Times Square, and we’d interview NSYNC, the Backstreet Boys, Will Smith, Tom Cruise. We knew it’s a big deal, but looking back, I now realize how iconic TRL was. For us, it was a job; we came here to work and have fun. But sometimes when you look back on something you realize, “Wow, what we did really changed pop-culture — and I was a part of that.” I’m honored to say I was a part of it.

On the importance of making plans:
You definitely have to find your passion in life, and then put together a plan to figure out a way to fulfill that. When I was young, I knew at that time that I wanted to be on the radio. So I started interning at a radio station, because I knew that was my way to get a foot in the door and get that experience. I put my plan together and then worked my plan throughout the years. Then, I set new goals and figured out ways to achieve those goals. It’s hard work. It’s perseverance. But most importantly, it’s having a plan.

On pursuing multiple careers:
It’s great to show people that you can do more than one thing, but the challenge is that people often only see you as one thing. So if you’re a radio personality, they only want to see you as that; if you’re a TV personality, they only want to see you as that. I’m all about breaking barriers down and showing people that you can not only be more than one thing — and you can be good at more than one thing. It’s possible. No one should put you in a box.

On going into acting:
The hardest part was making everybody believe that I could do it. I always believed in myself, I’ve always taken acting classes, and I’ve always worked really hard at it. But for so long it was, “Yeah, we know her from MTV” or “We know her from the radio, can she really act?” So it was all about proving to people that I could do that — and I’m still having to prove it. It’s not easy for me. I have to audition and work really hard because some people just still see me as “La La.” It’s really hard to make people see me as more than just that, and as an actress.

On fans feeling that they know her:
It’s good and bad, because some of the ideas may be right and some of the ideas might be wrong. Overall it comes with the territory of being in the public eye that people feel like they know you and can judge you. I’m used to it now, because you can’t only take the good and not the bad. When you’re in the limelight, you don’t get to pick and choose. So I’ve gotten used to it, and I don’t let the bad parts bother me. I’m secure in who I am, and the people who matter to me know my character and who I am as a person. That’s what matters the most to me.

On being friends with powerful women:
It’s a great thing, because you guys can motivate each other and talk to each other about business decisions. “Okay, you built this business — how did you do that? What advice can you offer me? How can I do something similar?” It’s great to have that network of support from people who love you, are rooting you on, and can give you the best advice. That’s priceless, and it’s a really great thing.

On starting her clothing line:
People always said they liked my style and how I dressed. I really thought there was a void in the marketplace for great denim and great jeans that make women feel good about themselves and highlight women’s bodies. So I created the La La Anthony collection, which is a denim collection for curvier women, and it’s really taken off. We had an exclusive deal with Lord & Taylor for a year, and now we’re at Lord & Taylor and Ashley Stewart, and a bunch of other retailers are going to start carrying us. It’s just really cool to see the business grow the way it is.

Her nighttime routine:
I stay up really late, even if I’m not working; I don’t go to bed early. I try to read — right now I’m finishing up Michelle Obama’s book — or I’ll watch a TV series I’m into and just catch up on that, or just have some downtime before I go to bed. My days are so hectic that at night, if I have an hour to just relax before I go to sleep, that’s what I try to do, because it’s very rare that I’m in a position where I can just do nothing. But if you look at my Instagram Stories, they’re always the life of an insomniac. I never can sleep. I’m always thinking about work, about my son. My mind is racing a lot. So I don’t sleep well and I don’t sleep a lot, but I try to get it in when I can because otherwise I would fall apart.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

How I Get It Done: La La Anthony