Nina Parker On Being Trolled In 2007 For Being A Plus-Sized Woman On TV

On today’s episode of “Tamron Hall,” Emmy®-nominated host, Nina Parker reflected on her career from telemarketing to TMZ to her newest co-hosting gig on “Friday Night Vibes” on TBS. Parker detailed her start at TMZ in 2007, at the height of tabloid journalism. Parker reminisced about sleeping in her car in pursuit of a story and the hunger she had for a career in entertainment that fueled her dedication. Parker opened up about being a plus-size woman of color on television in the mid-to-late 2000’s, and the trolling she endured throughout that time. Parker also discussed how the lack of representation for plus-size women in the high-end fashion industry pushed her to create her own inclusive fashion line after years of being ignored by designers during awards season.


Nina Parker on her early days at TMZ:

Really at that time, they were creating a different type of media and I didn’t know that at the time. And you know, I was in my 20s, like I didn’t know that this was going to be a new age of media. So I really now, looking back, was a part of all these iconic stories and seeing the inception and how it happened and what happened afterwards and the aftermath and so it was really interesting. Back then I didn’t know this would be a part of like pop culture history… I had just moved to LA, child, and I was like, I’m gonna do whatever I gotta do to get in this [industry] because I didn’t know anyone. I literally moved to LA, I had family there, but none of them were in entertainment. And I was like, how am I going to start meeting people? It [TMZ] was still just a website when I started, hadn’t even been a TV show. It was just a website. They were literally in an attic in another building and they were trying to get it. They were like we need people who are hungry, who are going to come out, who are gonna help us look for stories. So I was like, I’m gonna work holidays, I’m gonna sleep in my car, I’m gonna do whatever I have to do because I had been in a job I was so unhappy at for four years that was not in entertainment. I was working at a call center. I probably talked to some of y’all!”


Parker on being trolled in 2007 for being a plus-size woman on TV:

“A lot of people have seen my journey because when I started at TMZ, I was in my late 20s. And I think people have seen me go from place to place, and they’ve seen the grind and they’ve seen the elevation of my career. And you know, listen, we’ve heard a lot about this, in Hollywood as a Black woman, this is often a thankless industry. So there are times where, you know, I would struggle, especially being, in 2007, a plus-size woman on camera. That just was unheard of. It was rare enough to have a Black woman but a plus-size Black woman. Aside from Oprah, we weren’t seeing it, especially a younger Black woman. So I got a lot of trolling, before there was the word trolling, especially because I was very opinionated. And people don’t want you to be opinionated as a woman, let alone a Black woman telling them what’s going on. And I would find that in regular life, we put that on TV and I’m being put into homes in middle America who don’t see a lot of women like me and they’re offended that I’m speaking on behalf of Black women and the culture, and I do that unapologetically. So that was really hard, but it really gave me – I had that thick skin from the call center people, so they weren’t gonna tell me nothing!”


Parker on being forced into fashion due to lack of options of her plus-size frame:

“Imagine that. Imagine working so hard to get there [the red carpet], all the things I had to do to get to that position and then I get there and they’re like ‘We ain’t got no clothes for you.’ And you see your counterparts who are mainly size 00 and they’re getting racks coming in. And you’re sitting there like, ‘Y’all ain’t got no clothes for me?’ This is the thing, it’s gut-wrenching because I should be focused on the work. The last thing I should have to worry about is the availability of clothes…I had to do the Grammys and the Oscars and we had reached out to several clothes designers who never got back to us. So my stylist at the time found someone who could sew and we sketched these designs and my stylist went and found the fabric. I had this idea of wearing this kind of jeweled bustier and we had them make this for us with my design… This one we made as well. So it was the same year, when the Grammys dress did well, I was just like, ‘I am going to make my Oscars dress,’ so we did the same thing with this.” Tamron steps in to clarify and ask, “You never went to design school? How did you know the aesthetics of it?” Parker responds, “Because I failed. Because I had to put clothes together because the show I was doing at the time on E! was every day. So every day I had to come up with an outfit and this was for five years. So I started putting stuff together because there was such a shortage, I would be like let’s cut this sleeve off, let’s put it –  so really it was not having the options that forced me [into fashion]. I didn’t want to get into fashion initially. I actually hated fashion because I felt like every time I covered it I would be talking about designers who stopped at a size eight. Why would I give you love when you don’t see me?”

Share It!