Former professional boxer, Laila Ali has always had the gift of giving within her.
Even as a little girl, growing up alongside her father, legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, she has witnessed charitable deeds day-in and day-out that have instilled a bigger sense of purpose and passion in her now as an adult.
Everything from seeing her father handing out $100 bills to homeless people while riding around parts of L.A. in his Rolls-Royce convertible to developing a dedication for the culinary arts, Laila has continuously found ways to improve the lives of others around her. And even with what some may consider as a burden, having an icon as a parent, she has still followed her passion towards many different paths in life.
Recently, one avenue led her to the television program called Home Made Simple, for its seventh season. The show pairs inspiring families, Laila Ali, and a team of progressional designers and carpenters who work together with the families to create simple solutions to everyday home challenges and design dilemmas.
This season, there’s more to love. Meet Laila Ali, the new host of Home Made Simple, and watch as the HMS team makes a difference, one room and one recipe at a time.
The Shadow League recently chatted with Laila about her new hosting role and how it has changed her.
TSL: What made you want to do this show specifically?
Laila: This was a perfect show for me because I have a love for helping people improve their lives holistically. So, that just includes their home, living space, and of course, I get to cook with these participants. I cook recipes out of my cookbook, “Food for Life,” every episode so it was perfect for me. We go into people’s homes…and we figure out what the problem is and how we can fix it as a team. What’s different about this show is you learn about the individuals on the show, their backstories and some of the challenges that they are dealing with at the time. You get to really know these people and want to root for them.
TSL: Has this show opened up your eyes to the problems and socio-economic issues that some families go through, especially families within the black community? Thanks to Kanye, discussions about what the black community has to do has been put into a public space. What do you strive to do through your cookbook, the show, and other endeavors to further improve all communities?
Laila: Well, it starts with your core values, beliefs and intentions as an individual. We have things that we need to do, like put food on the table, but at the same time, you have to think about the overall picture. And for me being the daughter of a global icon, Muhammad Ali, who literally made changes in the world and the lives of so many people, was all about service and giving back to his community. I have to in my own way, being his daughter, say “What am I going to do to continue his legacy but stay true to me?” I’m not going to put a burden on myself and say I have to be like my dad or I have to have the same passion that my dad had. So, I do naturally have a passion for wanting to help people because I grew up watching him and that was instilled in me and being a positive role model using my platform.
One of Muhammad Ali’s daughters shares with “GMA” lessons she learned from her dad and remembers the life of the boxing legend.
But taking a step further, for me, I have thought about what my legacy is going to be and how I am going to help people, not just African American people, but all people. Of course, I want to pay special attention to my community because when it comes to health and wellness we are really far behind. And that’s what I’m passionate about. It’s a big epidemic and a big problem. We are dying simply because of our lifestyle choices, forget what anybody else is doing holding us down, we hold ourselves down and need to instill the thing we need to build a strong community of people so we can think clearly and be our best because we need to really understand the importance of food and lifestyle choices. (We) turn around and get diabetes at younger and younger ages, sitting somewhere having to get dialysis, you really think you can go out into the world and think about making it a better place (when) you are just trying to stay alive? But, if we stay on this track, and we don’t pull ourselves up then there are some people out there who will be like “great let them kill themselves.” Everything is connected.
So, it’s not simply that easy for everyone to just be like “you need to eat organic. You need to eat fresh.” So, I understand that. But, at the same time, we still have to aspire to something. How can I make better choices? I don’t overwhelm myself with what Kanye is saying, or what this person is saying and what that person is saying, I remain strong and stay focused with my foundation, and what I set out to do and the part that I can play and the changes that I can actually make. It’s very complex. That’s just one of the many things that need to be done and that’s what I’m focusing on because it’s what I’m passionate about.
TSL: With this, there has to be some level of pressure that comes with being the daughter of an icon? Even if you ignore what everyone else is saying or tells you to do.
Laila: It depends on what you consider as pressure… I don’t feel pressure, I just feel like that’s just a part of what I want to do, not what anyone else tries to make me do but yes I have to make sure I’m taking steps in the right direction. So again, when I think of pressure, I think of the burden, it being on my shoulders like this is something that I have to do. This is not something that I have to do, this is something that I want to do. If I was somebody who was like I just want to go and party, and I just want to go and buy as many name brand things I can so I can wear Gucci and Chanel and ride in a Range Rover, I don’t really want to help people, I don’t really want to encourage people then I would feel the pressure. But this is naturally what I want to do. Everybody is not cut out and isn’t the person that’s going to make a difference and take a stand, but even if you help one person and help them be better in their life, that can be the next Muhammad Ali that you encourage and inspire.
TSL: Has this TV program shown you anything that you’ve personally dealt with and now see someone else going through?
Laila: This show pretty much just reminded me how we are all connected. There’s a common thread regardless of your race, religion, your socio-economic status is that people just want to be happy, provide for their family, and want to be fulfilled. You can never really know exactly what someone is going through until you experience it. So, there are things that I can’t even really relate to. In my life, I live in California, I live in Calabasas, nice area, there are people who live in neighborhoods where they see crime, they see killing, they see people on drugs on the corner, they are going to have a whole different outlook on life. It makes you feel like wow, there’s so much work (left) for us all as a whole.
The Emmy Award winning show is back with host and lifestyle expert Laila Ali and a team of distinguished experts devoted to helping families clean, organize, and beautify their homes! Tune in for the all-new season coming this November, Saturdays at 9am/8c.