Loni Love can make you laugh while helping to fix your car, as an electrical engineer turned comedian. The Detroit-native spent a decade in corporate America before creating a master plan to pursue her passion in entertainment. As she begins a new season as co-host of The Real, Love shares her secrets to jumping ship to discover success.
Name: Loni Love
Title: Author and co-host of The Real
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Hometown: Detroit, MI
The gig: I am an entertainer, author and currently co-hosting the daytime talk show The Real.
The journey: I believe in education. Growing up in Detroit, I worked at the automobile factory with engineers and studied electrical engineering at Prairie View A&M. I always loved to make people laugh and started doing stand-up in college to make money. Once I graduated I took a job in corporate America and worked my way to engineering project manager.
The turning point: One day I was signing a million dollar contract for my company. I thought if I could get that contract for this company then I can get a million dollar contract for myself. That encouraged me to follow my passion to entertain. I created a plan to transition to a full-time comedian. And it was hard. I kept my job and the steady paycheck, and worked my act every night to build my stage presence. One day I had a meeting at the E! building during the day for my engineering job and a meeting with the same guy that evening for my comedy. It was a sign and I knew it was time to choose. We started having company layoffs and I went to my boss and said, "Please save somebody else’s job and lay me off." That was in 2001. I got laid off and I never looked back.
Her biggest lesson learned: One of the biggest mistakes I made in my career was not speaking up. You have to speak up, especially when you’re working for yourself. I did a movie and I let the people who were working for me handle everything. So when the movie came out it got fairly decent exposure, but I should have been more involved, but I let somebody else handle my business. I don’t do that anymore. Now I’m more aware of what’s happening in my career.
Her advice for dreamers: Whatever you’re destined to do, you will be. Even when I was an engineer, I was a comic on my job. At birthday and holiday parties, I was the one scheduling and emceeing. If you work on your gift and you’re good, it will shine through. Of course when people say, "Oh, don’t leave your job," it’s just them looking out for you. But I watched the signs. When I saw people who had been on my job for 30 years get laid off, that was a hard lesson. So I figured I might as well take a chance and do my own thing.
Her proudest moments: The president of CBS handpicked me for the Star Search revival, which Arsenio Hall hosted. He picked 12 comics and I was the only female. I always look to that as inspiration. Now my accomplishments are being invited to stuff and having my peers recognize me. I was grateful when Wendy Williams invited me to her 50th birthday party. One time on Chelsea Lately, I did a comedy monologue on one of Tyler Perry’s shows. The next day Tyler Perry sent me flowers! That’s huge.
Her childhood goals: My dream as a kid was to do comedy and be on television. I grew up in the projects and my mom never said we were poor. I didn’t realize I was poor until I watched TV.
Her tech fix: Of course I love all my social media apps to keep in touch with my fans and all the photo filters. My favorite app is waze where people who are driving the same path as you can inform each other if there’s a cop or an accident.
Her beauty bag: I love apricot scrub. I also like Mary Kay foundation and powder. It keeps me dry and I don’t look like I’m frying chicken.
Her power accessory: When you’re a plus-sized girl, belts are your best friends. I also love bright colors and skirts, to show my pretty knees. Tamar is always on me because I like to wear comfortable shoes.
Her secret superpower: Blocking out negative vibes. In this social media age, you’ll always have somebody write something about you or they misconstrue what you’re trying to say and you have to deal with that. It gets hard sometimes and I fight through.
Her theme song: ‘Lovely Day’ by Bill Withers. I love that song.