When Cristyl Kimbrough was applying for law school, she wasn’t sure if she would have a strong enough personal statement essay to get in. Her reason? She didn’t struggle enough growing up.
“I always thought you needed a story filled with tumult to convince those reading your law school application that you deserve a spot there—my family life was the opposite of that.”
Kimbrough, who is one of the stars of the hit OWN show ‘Ladies Who List: Atlanta’ which features the lives of successful real estate professionals, said she grew up in a loving household and learned important lessons from her parents. Particularly, Kimbrough’s father, a powerhouse real-estate entrepreneur, taught her nearly everything she knows about being an effective leader.
“He is the epitome of what a man is supposed to be,” she shares with Essence.
On the show, Kimbrough often found herself at odds with one of her cast-mates because of their differing familial backgrounds. “Being on the show made me truly realize how privileged I was to have wonderful parents, particularly a father in the household because many Black women don’t have that,” Kimbrough said.
She even shared that she initially felt guilty about her close relationship with her dad, especially since other women on the cast couldn’t relate. “It’s so funny because I felt really badly about that at first—but it’s something I make absolutely no apologies for now though.”
The founder of Kimbrough Law, an Atlanta-based real estate firm, she said her father taught her some of the most important skills she needed to make her goals happen.
“I watched him and my mother knock down so many barriers at such early ages that I never even considered failure as an option growing up,” she said. “He’s always been such a go-getter, fearless leader and brilliant strategist so I inherited all of that.”
She said those lessons even helped her navigate the tough terrain of reality television as well. “I often found myself being the mediator among the group of women, and trying to make sense of the conversations we had,” she said. “My dad is a straight shooter so that logical part of me definitely came from my father as well.”
In all, she said she wouldn’t be the woman she is today without her family. “My career is a testament to what can happen when someone pours into you—I’m grateful to have had that my entire life.”