It is finally the season of coats and boots in New York City.
Despite the bitter 40 degree temperature, Kim Fields has emerged from the second floor of Langston Hughes’ historic home decked out in a mint green cocktail dress and fiery red hair to discuss Blessed Life, her memoir documenting her life and storied career from Harlem to Hollywood.
Fields is a rarity in Hollywood. A second generation Black child star actress who neither fell into the trappings of child star fame nor faded away into oblivion. Daughter of the Harlem born and raised actress, singer and director Chip Fields, Kim was destined for stardom. From her first role in the series Baby, I’m Back to Facts of Life, Living Single to recent stints on the Real Housewives of Atlanta and Dancing with the Stars, Fields has hustled her entire career, a quality she attributes to her mother’s Harlem upbringing.
“There are certain things that are a part of the Harlem DNA: culture, tenacity, a great deal of creativity and hustle," she told ESSENCE. "All of that motivated my mother as a single, teenage parent and she intentionally passed it down to me. There’s something wonderful about the history of Harlem that truly embraces and celebrates its rich history.”
Not only was she Chip Field’s daughter, she was also the daughter of Black America. By the age of 13, Fields was on the cover of Jet Magazine and featured in ESSENCE Magazine at 16 years old. “I’ll never forget when I did my cover for ESSENCE when I was 16 and I got to work with the great and incomparable Mikki Taylor. I remember flying to New York and that was my first introduction to high fashion and the beauty industry. It was the first time I might’ve wore leopard print and red. It was magical.”
So why after 40 years in the business did Fields finally decide to tell her story? Quite simply, it was the right time. “It was getting to that 40th anniversary mark and I began feeling like there was a lot to talk about. From my childhood and commercials to TV shows and the first marriage, the divorce and dark period, it just seemed like there was a whole lot to start shaping and talking about.”
While Fields has been in the spot nearly all of her life, she says fans will be surprised at her transparency in the book.
“I think fans will be surprised to learn about how Chris (husband) and I met and what our intention was. They’ll also be surprised about the behind the scenes thought progressions on the decision to do the Real Housewives of Atlanta and Dancing with the Stars.”
While many of her counterparts in the '80s succumbed to drug addiction or faded into obscurity, Fields says that her mother’s advice helped her make the best decisions. “I didn’t want to be a has-been at 18. I looked at my peers and took my mother’s advice of having a back up plan. She told me ‘don’t believe the hype.’ I didn’t want to sit by the phone after Facts (of Life) waiting on someone to call me. I didn’t want to be a statistic.”
With 40 years of show business under her belt, it’s not improbable to think Fields would be weary of show business. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Her new film Wrapped Up In Christmas premieres on Lifetime November 25th and she’s anxiously awaiting the official word on season two of the UK television series Living The Dream.
At 48 years old Fields is as passionate about her work as ever. “I still love what I do. I still love directing, acting and producing. There’s still so much I want to do. There are still so many characters inside of me.”