[INTERVIEW] Cynthia Bailey-Hill Is Crushing Hollywood One Cocktail at a Time
Cynthia Bailey-Hill dropped her peach and picked up the script!
The Real Housewives of Atlanta alumni has been the main character of our TV screens for over a decade, but now, she’s finally headed to the cinema… for real, this time.
After an illustrious modeling career and controversial reality-show run, Bailey-Hill is trading in the girls’ getaways and gorgeous gowns for the plot points and primetime presentations.
You may have grown familiar with this Bama Belle dominating the layout of the hottest magazine spreads or on the runway to showing the world her life as a working wife.
However, these days, Bailey-Hill is here to stake her claims–outside of the Big Peach and inside the velvet ropes of Hollywood.
Known as the face of your favorite franchise to, more recently, the latest feature films, Cynthia Bailey-Hill is elegantly striving to make a mark from the business to the blockbusters.
We recently caught up with Mrs. Bailey-Hill to talk everything from her Seagram’s Escapes partnership to CHilling with the love of her life… and a cocktail.
Parlé Magazine: The Fourth of July is upon us, and of course, this is everyone’s favorite time of the year to not only get their party on but their drink on!
So, it’s only right for us to jump straight into your partnership with Seagram’s Escapes. During your time on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, we were able to sort of see a glimpse of your ambassadorship with the brand.
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: Yes!
Parlé Magazine: Take us back to the beginning. Tell us how it all started and the process behind your now business relationship with the popular beverage company.
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: So, a few years ago, Seagram’s Escapes reached out to my team. They wanted to know if I would be interested in creating my own signature cocktail with them. I was like, “Uhhh.. yes! [I] absolutely would!” [laughs]
Parlé Magazine: Right?! [laughs]
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: I mean, one thing I enjoy is a good cocktail! After being on The Real Housewives of Atlanta for eleven, consistent years, I don’t think I could’ve made it without having a cocktail after work! [laughs] So, with that said, I was very excited for the opportunity to partner with Seagram’s Escapes for a couple of reasons. Once I did my research and got to know the team, I realized how much they are into women’s empowerment, and that’s something that I am very big on. I speak at so many different events and conventions as keynote speakers, just empowering and inspiring other women.
The other thing is, as a Black, female entrepreneur, I’m very passionate about Black-owned businesses. That’s another collaboration that Seagram’s Escapes and I have been able to do together–shining a spotlight on Black-owned businesses. So, there was this great chemistry [between us], just in terms of the things that we wanted to do together. And it worked! We created my Peach Bellini; that was all my creativity–what kind of flavor I wanted, etc. I came up with the peach flavor as just a little shout out to Georgia and The Real Housewives of Atlanta; our signature fruit is the peach.
So, I created the Peach Bellini, which is one of their top-selling drinks!
Parlé Magazine: Of course, it’s Mrs. Cynthia Bailey-Hill!
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: [laughs] You guys got a chance to see the actual launch on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, and it was very successful. But… of course, what most people remember is the drama that came with it, when Kenya [Moore] showed up and it was like a whole big thing! [laughs]
Parlé Magazine: [laughs]
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: I didn’t know she was coming because she told me she wasn’t coming, and she showed up and NeNe thought I knew she was coming–and that just was a whole thing! But, anyway, needless to say, that launch was very memorable and definitely made the episode. So, there you go!
Parlé Magazine: It did! Let’s get into this Lemon Crush Cocktail that you [and Seagram’s Escapes] have going on right now!
For you, as the face of the line, how instrumental would you say you are (or try to be) when it comes to new promotions as such?
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: Oh, I’m super hands-on! That was one of my dealbreakers when I started my partnership with Seagram’s Escapes. I didn’t want to just throw a product out there and sit back and get my check every month; I really wanted to have a real partnership with them–in terms of the creative [side of it] and all sides, but definitely the creative. That is why I helped design the box for the Peach Bellini, [and] I came up with the flavors. I literally went to Chicago, and I was in the lab, putting everything together. Like, is there enough carbonation? Is it too sweet? Is it not sweet enough? You know? All of those things.
Any time they do a promotion, as the brand ambassador, I’m definitely there. I started out with my own signature drink, and then… the partnership went, and has been going, so well that they decided to make me the brand ambassador for the entire Seagram’s Escapes line.
Parlé Magazine: Oh, my goodness!
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: That’s been awesome! Now, I get to promote all of the drinks. I’m actually in Houston, Texas right now. We’re on the road promoting our spiked flavors from Seagram’s Escapes. So, it’s been a great situation for me because I was able to take one single situation, that could’ve ended there, and elevate to becoming the brand ambassador for the whole Seagram’s Escapes line. I’ve been really, really grateful for that, because, again, we’re on the same page when it comes to women, women’s empowerment, Black-owned businesses, and all of those things that I’m able to use the platform to promote as well.
Parlé Magazine: That’s so dope because, a lot of times, you’ll see celebrities endorse brands but they don’t really have a creative hand in it.
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: Right! A lot of celebrities just lend their names to products and they may not even use the products, for all I know, you know what I mean? It’s just about the money. For me, as a brand–I’ve been building a brand for years–anything that I have, anything that I promote, anything that I endorse, it’s authentic. These are things that I really stand behind. I literally was at the Circle K, at the 7-Eleven hugging people, taking pictures, holding babies, FaceTiming with Grandma–
Parlé Magazine: I love it! [laughs]
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: They walked into the Circle K like, “We didn’t think that you were really going to be here!” Like, “Why would you be in El Paso?” I was just in El Paso yesterday, and they were so excited to see me. They were telling me that no celebrities ever come to El Paso. “No one ever comes to El Paso; we can’t believe that you’re here!” I had one of my fans actually crying because she was just so excited to meet me.
Parlé Magazine: Awww, that was so sweet!
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: She had been watching me [on the show] for so many years. That’s one of the other things that I really do love about Seagram’s Escapes; it’s the fact that we love going back into the community. Especially after the pandemic, I’m really exciting about reconnecting with people. I love hugging people! Like, I miss people!
Before the pandemic, we were doing our women’s empowerment tours, and I was able to have that accessibility to my fans and to the people who buy our products. Now, we’re back on the road, and I couldn’t be happier, because I really missed that connectivity of just being around people. I learned a lot in the pandemic, and one of the main things that I learned is, life is just too short; every day is a gift.
Parlé Magazine: Yes! Way too short.
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: I don’t take anything or anyone for granted. I just really live life to the fullest, and it feels good to celebrate. I know it’s the season of Fourth of July, but I don’t wait for holidays to celebrate anymore; every day is a celebration. To wake up healthy and happy is a celebration. So, this Lemon Crush Cocktail that we’re featuring for Fourth of July Weekend, you can carry that into the rest of your life, as far as I’m concerned! [laughs]
If you need to just relax, treat yourself, decompress from your hard work, I can’t think of a better way to do it than a delicious Seagram’s Escapes cocktail.
Parlé Magazine: Exactly! [laughs] And, one thing that I want to add is, your willingness to reciprocate the love to those who love you speaks to the type of woman you are! The point that you’re able to make is, you have an impact with whatever you do.
Even just being a partner of a drink brand, you’ve made such a huge influence, so that’s awesome!
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: Thank you so much! I come from very humble beginnings. I think one of the reasons why I had so much success for eleven, consecutive seasons, as a peach holder on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, was because I’m relatable. I’m a real, normal person who just happens to be on TV! People relate to that. I know we all kind of play characters, here and there, and there’s editing or whatever, but I think the fans can still feel the essence of a person’s spirit. No matter what is happening in the scene!
I turned fifty-five years old in the Celebrity Big Brother house this year! I honestly think [my spirit] is the secret to my success. To just be kind, authentic, and live my life in my truth. That’s it; that’s what I do! Even in my modeling days, before I became a reality star, I was never a diva; I was never difficult. I was professional; I did my job as well as I could do it. I had a very successful modeling career, for years, before I transitioned into reality TV, and I took that same spirit, that same heart, and that same attitude into reality TV.
Now that I’ve left The Real Housewives of Atlanta, I’m taking that same attitude into my acting career, and it has completely taken off. I moved out to L.A. and hit the ground running! I have so many projects that I’ve worked on already and so many more acting projects coming up. God is opening up those doors. I believe that when you come from a pure space with good intentions, and you’re willing to work and treat people right, doors will open up for you!
Parlé Magazine: Soooo true! I’ve always been told, if you make one step, God will make the rest!
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: Amen! I love that.
Parlé Magazine: You were certainly one of my favorites on The Real Housewives of Atlanta! Not being bias, but you were my favorite! [laughs]
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: Awww, thank you!
Parlé Magazine: Speaking of drinks, I think we all needed a glass (or maybe two) after seeing your latest film, The Stepmother, which also starred Marques Houston and Erica Mena! [laughs]
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: [laughs]
Parlé Magazine: So, the Lemon Crush Cocktail is the perfect addition for a good ole movie night this weekend.
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: Absolutely!
Parlé Magazine: Talk to us about your role in that project and the experience you had on set with the cast!
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: I had an amazing, amazing time shooting The Stepmother! I got to play a supporting role with Erica Mena, who did an amazing job portraying Zoey, the stepmom!
Parlé Magazine: She did!
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: Oh, my God! It was such a treat to work with her; she is so talented. I’m sure you guys are going to see so much more of Erica Mena… as an actress! I was blown away. Marques Houston killed it! and I got a chance to work with Charles Malik Whitfield, who actually worked with my daughter’s dad–Noelle’s dad, Leon–in The Temptations! That’s one of my favorite movies. It’s crazy because, although it’s my baby daddy’s movie [laughs], if I didn’t know Leon, I’d still say that it’s one of my favorite movies!
Charles Malik Whitfield is so talented. Of course, Leon is talented. So, just to even have a scene with Charles, the whole time I was sitting there filming with him, I kept thinking in my mind when Leon said, “Ain’t nobody coming to see you Otis!” [laughs] I couldn’t get that out of my head!
Parlé Magazine: [laughs]
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: He was so great, so giving, so gracious! Coming into the business as a former reality star and working with some of the greats, like a Charles Malik Whitfield, is crazy for me! It was so exciting to even share the space with them, because they’ve been doing this for so long, and I’m still relatively new. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make sure that I over-prepare and that I’m on point with everything because I know, a lot of times, in this industry, people don’t look at reality stars who transition into acting as serious about the craft. I really want to be taken seriously, and I want to earn the respect of not only the producers and the directors I work with but also the cast.
Because what I’m learning is, although I’ve been taking classes and I have a coach, every time I actually book a job and I get on set is where I learn the most. Just from watching other people act! When I’m not in a scene, I actually sit and–
Parlé Magazine: Study them!
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: Yes! I could sit in a trailer or whatever, but I don’t; I sit on set, and I watch them act. That’s the best acting class for me. So, I’ve been so blessed that I’ve been able to work with so many talented people so far, to just learn. I’m really excited about this next chapter, and I feel confident in it. Every time I get another booking, I’m like, “Okay, this is really happening! I’m really doing this! I’m becoming an actress!”
As a woman of a certain age, the entertainment industry is pretty much a young industry, for the most part. So, to start my acting career at fifty-five is kind of crazy but, at the same time, it’s kind of exciting because I feel like I’m inspiring people, who are a certain age, to never feel like it’s too late or too old to dream–and to go for it!
So, keep praying for me, girl! I’m trying to represent for us.
Parlé Magazine: [laughs] I will! You’re already doing so wonderful. I watched the movie, and I loved it.
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: Thank you!
Parlé Magazine: In The Stepmother, you have a widowed, single father who falls in love with a woman but later realizes that she comes with a whole lot more baggage than he bargained for!
For a lot of parents who enter new relationships, there’s always this standing reservation on if the person you are bringing into your life, your home, is not only going to be a good fit for you but also your children.
So, as a woman with a blended family of your own, how important do you feel it is to have these conversations surrounding the subject of step-parenting in today’s climate?
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: I think it’s very important! Blended families are becoming more and more common, and I think what is happening is, we’re starting to see examples of blended families where everybody’s actually a family. Like, everybody gets along. You even see them going on vacations together and stuff. That is so beautiful when everybody’s on the same page and when it can be that cool, you know what I’m saying?
Parlé Magazine: I agree!
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: I know that, for me, personally, with Noelle, any relationship that I’ve ever been in–including my ex-husband, Peter, and my current husband, Mike Hill–I always presented myself as a package deal. Not just myself and Noelle but Leon. They have to know Noelle’s dad! [laughs] Leon is going to want to know what man is getting ready to be around his daughter. So, with that said, I think it’s very important to get to know the people you’re bringing into your life, into your world, into your family and making sure that everyone is on the same page.
Now, in The Stepmother, it didn’t work out so well for Marques! Erica Mena was crazy! I was on to her, and I was the one who discovered it, which was why I know that I won’t make it to The Stepmother Two! [laughs] She pushed me down the stairs and I died!
Parlé Magazine: [laughs] I was so mad! I was like, “I know she didn’t kill her!”
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: I know, right?! [laughs] I was on to her! That’s another thing; as parents, you have to trust your gut, your instinct, and your intuition when it comes to people, especially if you’re bringing someone around your kids. You also have to listen to your kids as well. I know, in the movie, Marques’ son—who is Lisa Wu and Keith Sweat’s son, Justin, in real life (so talented, by the way)–had reservations, but Marques was so blindsided, chile! His head was so far in the clouds that he wasn’t listening to his son.
So, as parents, we have to listen, and we have to go with our gut and our instinct. When something feels weird, we have to pay attention to things like that. It’s very important to really get to know who you’re bringing into your home.
Parlé Magazine: Well, hopefully, your spirit will come back in The Stepmother Two! [laughs] Maybe we’ll see you in some capacity!
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: [laughs] Hopefully! I have some other things coming up as well, so I’ve been pretty busy. Maybe that was okay to just be a one-off thing. I did what I needed to do, [Zoey] got exposed in the end and got what was coming to her! So, I didn’t die in vain!
Parlé Magazine: Is acting some thing that you’ve always wanted to do? Is this something that was sort of a passion from the beginning but you swayed into modeling? Or is this a new discovery?
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: Yes! I’ve always been interested in acting, and it’s always come up throughout my career. When I left Alabama to move to New York City to pursue my modeling career, I immediately started taking acting classes as well, because I wasn’t sure if the modeling thing was going to work out. Once I got to New York, I was like, “Okay, I want to try to be ready to prepare myself for whatever comes up. I’m living in New York now, and anything could happen.”
The modeling kicked off, but I did get an opportunity to do a couple of episodes of The Cosby Show. Other [acting gigs] came up all the time, but I was honestly so busy working and living in Europe, at the time, that I didn’t have a lot of time to focus on it.
So, it’s kind of just come full circle, where I can actually make it a focus for myself now. When I transitioned from modeling to reality TV, being on The Real Housewives of Atlanta–I didn’t think I was going to be on there for eleven years–I just never had the time to focus on it like I wanted to. I never wanted to half-a** focus on acting; I knew that I wanted to take it seriously. I knew that I wanted to be respected, so I wanted to give myself time to focus on it completely.
Now, in this next chapter, since I’m no longer on the show, I’m able to dedicate my time to focus on becoming a talented actress.
Parlé Magazine: Everything happens for a reason, so you stepping into this next phase of your life is the beginning of greatness!
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: And I believe in timing! Maybe I wasn’t supposed to be an actress in my twenties, thirties, and forties. Maybe this is the moment that God had for me when I transitioned into this part of my life. I believe it is true! This industry is very difficult. It doesn’t matter who you are; you still have to have talent. Everything that I go up for, I’ve auditioned for, I’ve earned it, and I’ve gotten those roles.
There are a million other talented women in L.A. who are competing against the same parts that I go up for, so it’s just God really confirming that I’m on the right path, that this is something that I could do, want to do, and I’m enjoying doing.
Parlé Magazine: I can’t wait to see what else you have coming! I’m sure you can’t spill the tea just yet! [laughs]
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: Ahhh! Me too! I also just finished doing a series on ALLBLK, called Terror Lake Drive. I should be coming up in an episode of that. Season two just started. And, then, I just finished doing a BET Plus movie that’s coming up at the top of next year, called Blossom.
Parlé Magazine: Wow… you are working, working!
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: Listen… girl, I ain’t got no choice! I gotta get me another job now! [laughs] I gotta replace those Housewives checks!
Parlé Magazine: Just to expand on the topic of entering relationships where you both have children from previous situations, I think what you and Mr. Hill have showcased to the world in regards to your union is absolutely beautiful and refreshing.
Not only is it an adjustment for women, in particular, to adapt to the new normal of starting over with someone else, but sometimes, finding love again, later in life and after divorce, frightens a lot of people.
So, what would you say sort of helped you be receptive to opening up your heart again and not letting societal fears ruin that for you?
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: You know what, I’m a Pisces woman. Love is big for me! I’m a lover of love; I love being in love. All good things come from a place of love, at the end of the day. So, when I got divorced, and I kind of started all over again, I never gave up on the fact that I could find love again. It didn’t have to be in a package of being married, per se, but I always felt like there was someone out there who I would eventually meet in God’s timing.
Parlé Magazine: Way too often, us as Black women are conditioned to feel this sense of pressure when it comes to the way that our lives should be lived.
Why do you feel there’s this stigma placed upon us that tries to get us to believe that we’re on a time clock for things like marriage and building a family?
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: I talk about age a lot because I really embrace my age, but as a woman of age, it bothers me when people put so much emphasis on having a husband to feel validated. I have a lot of single friends who are my age, and they really give themselves such a hard time because they haven’t found anyone. A lot of times, people put all of this [pressure on you], like, “Oh, well, you haven’t found a husband.” Everything is like “husband, husband, husband” with some of these women.
Having a husband is a beautiful thing if you have an amazing husband, but it’s not so great because I’ve been on both sides of it! [laughs] I think some of us could find somebody to marry if we just wanted to! But, finding the person who’s really your friend, who you’re truly compatible with, who you love and they love you, and they treat you like a queen and you treat them like a king, that’s not easy to find!
God knows I’m so happy with my husband, and we’ve been married for like a year and a half now, but if it wasn’t right, I wouldn’t put so much value on [having a husband]. I don’t care how old I am; I deserve what I deserve.
You should never settle just to say you have a husband or feel like that somehow validates your life or completes you in some way. If you’re single, I’d rather be single and happy than married and miserable!
Parlé Magazine: That’s a word right there!
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: Say that for the people in the back!
Parlé Magazine: While we’re discussing bonds and all of that good stuff, having been a part of a series with so much controversy attached to the lady group, what were some of the lessons you learned about the dynamic of friendships while on The Real Housewives of Atlanta? And how have you been able to sort of apply that to other female connections outside of the show?
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: Throughout the years, I’ve learned the importance of healthy boundaries. You don’t get to take, take, take, while I just sit back and give, give, give. That’s not what true friendships are about. If you’re my friend, you shouldn’t want to make me feel uncomfortable about anything and vice versa. So, that’s what I’m all about, just establishing those healthy boundaries with people who serve a good purpose in my life.
Parlé Magazine: Moving forward, when you look back on your reality television run, what do you think has been the biggest misconception about you as a person? And, since you’ve left the franchise, how do you feel your reinvention sort of combats that?
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: I think a lot of people perceived me as weak, when that wasn’t the case at all. Just because a person may not react the way that you expect them to or sometimes choose to take a quieter approach doesn’t mean that they’re weak. I’ve been in this business a long time, and I tell you one thing, I didn’t get this far without strength!
Parlé Magazine: What can we expect from you next?
Cynthia Bailey-Hill: Now that I’m no longer doing reality TV, I can take the time to focus on things like writing my book. Also, more acting projects, like the ones that I mentioned to you earlier. There are so many things about me that you guys didn’t get to see on the show. I’m a painter. When I used to model, I would take my paintings on the road with me. So, just reconnecting with my passions.
I have so much coming up, but I can’t speak on it at the moment. However, I can’t wait for the day that I can share, so stay tuned!
Connect with Cynthia Bailey-Hill:
Check out Seagram’s Escapes:
Jamaican Me Happy Lemon Crush Cocktail Recipe:
- 1 bottle Seagram’s Escapes Jamaican Me Happy
- 2 oz oz vodka
- 3/4 cup pink lemonade
- 1 sliced lemon
- 1/4 cup sliced strawberries
- Watermelon slices, for garnish
- Add ice to a pitcher. Add Seagram’s Escapes Jamaican Me Happy, vodka, pink lemonade, lemon and strawberries to the pitcher. Stir to combine.
- Divide into 2 glasses filled with ice. If desired, garnish with watermelon slices.
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