If you think you know Tara Wallace, truthfully, you don’t.
The TV personality, whom most were introduced to on Love and Hip Hop New York, has many talents and gifts, from a background and studies in acting, to experience being an etiquette coach, and a gift for truly listening. She’s getting the chance to flex the latter chops in her newest role as a talk show host, leading the upcoming series Soul Food With Tara Wallace on the Impact Network.
“I’m extremely excited honestly,” Wallace tells ESSENCE. “It’s great to be able to open my book at a different page, showing other sides of myself that people haven’t had an opportunity to experience, and to do so with individuals that I care about that I was just genuinely able to have conversations with.”
The show will be part talk series, part culinary fun, hence the name. “Let me tell you something. I’m not the one cooking the food but I can throw down,” Wallace jokes, noting that the soul food — from black eyed peas pico de gallo to Southern caviar — created by Chef Nancie Green, are comfort foods that help the host and guests get comfortable having thought-provoking conversations about a little bit of everything.
“What you see is us having a conversation in a very safe space. I’m not trying to deceive anyone to tell me the juicy gossip,” she says.
“Tell me something about your life that has been difficult that you overcame. Tell me something about your life that is going to help someone else.”
For Wallace, who grew up watching The Oprah Winfrey Show and was a Tyra Banks Show fan, she never thought she would be on a talk show, let alone hosting one. But after speaking with series creator and executive producer Steve Marcano and CCO of Impact Network and show director Royal Jackson, she realized she might just be the right person for such an opportunity after all.
“I’m creating a space where I’m listening. And if anyone understands the importance of listening or being misunderstood or people judging you from a moment, it’s me,” she says. Wallace, who starred in Seasons 4-6 of Love and Hip Hop New York, became a lightning rod for criticism for the way she handled the love triangle she found herself in with former partner Peter Gunz (with whom she shares three sons) and his ex-wife Amina Buddafly.
“People entered my life at a time when I was going through something extremely real. It was happening in real time. That wasn’t all my life though,” she says. “I’ve had meaningful relationships with people. I have people who truly care for me. My concerns as a woman are no different than any other woman’s concerns. So it was important to show that’s not the only thing I am.”
“But because that story was so impactful, so crazy, I understand it’s hard for people to see you in a different light. But to have this opportunity, it’s important to show that there are other things,” she adds. “Like any other woman, we have bad relationships, we love someone a little too hard. Ok, but that’s not it. I still have to wake up and provide for my kids, love my children, love me, love my family. So it’s important that I show those things because the opportunity has been presented and there’s no better time than the present.”
Wallace’s first guests on the program include Marcus Black, author and also an alumnus of Love and Hip Hop. He discusses putting himself in check to write a book, Love Laws, on ways to build a marriage that works, inspired by his union with singer Brooke Valentine. There’s also rapper Yolanda “Yo-Yo” Whitaker, who shares the ups and downs of being an MC, including the financial rollercoasters, and how she dealt with them to raise her daughters. And then there’s community activist Jamila T. Davis, who dishes on bouncing back from her lowest point — being incarcerated — to find her purpose.
Wallace says each guest speaks about what they’ve learned from bumps on the road of life to encourage others. She is hopeful that the show, and the journey she’s been on in front of the world on TV over the years, will do the same, reminding people that they can overcome anything.
“We’re going to go through stuff but we really have to learn to bounce back. We really have to learn to push through, continue on, all is not lost and it’s just a part of our journey,” she says. “You don’t know that you can do that until you see it. So part of my story is that people needed to see me to to see how you deal with something like that.”
“I’m not ashamed of my experience and I don’t try to hide from it,” Wallace adds. “And I think that perhaps being in this space with other strong women and men talking about not just their successes but the things they perhaps didn’t get right, we all need to hear it to answer the question, how do you do it?“
Soul Food With Tara Wallace premieres on the IMPACT Network on Saturday, September 3, 2022. To learn more and find the channel in your city to tune in, visit WatchImpact.com.