By Jennifer Hogeland
Leigh Anne Tuohy is admired by many because of her generous nature and make-it-happen attitude. Her story touched the nation when “The Blind Side” hit the box office, telling her family’s inspirational story. But, two years later, the interest around the Tuohy family remains strong.
While women are already purchasing their tickets to see Leigh Anne Tuohy at the annual Women’s Fund Power of the Purse event in Oshkosh on April 26, she gave us a little sneak peek into her life and shared a few words of wisdom.
Did you ever imagine life would lead you to where you are today with all the fame and attention?
No. We had no plan or agenda. We are mystified daily that our story continues to have such momentum.
What is it like being so recognizable?
It certainly is life changing. You see people that haven’t handled the success that was thrust upon them and when we realized there was going to be attention placed on us I said, ‘Look, there is a right way and a wrong way to do things, and we certainly are going to try to do this right.’
We’ve really tried to stay true to the message and to ourselves. We have made a conscious effort to be as normal as we possibly can and continue our regular life. I’m not going to lie, it’s hard.
How accurate was “The Blind Side” in telling your family’s story?
“The Blind Side” was a very good depiction of our life. A few things were different but they didn’t impact the authenticity of the movie… Michael was never that bad of a football player, but writer/director was really trying to show the distance he came in a short amount of time.
What have you been working on and how do you balance it all?
The store is still open and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition kept me in the interior design world but I’m busy with the Foundation, we have a new television project in the works and I’m working on a second book so I have a lot going on and there is great deal to juggle.
I’m fortunate to have wonderful friends and family and support.
One thing I tell people is never turn down help. When someone offers help, I circle back around to all those that offered that help. I believe you are only as good as those around you.
What did you do to raise three amazing kids?
I believe you have to know what your kids are doing 24/7. Even now they are still looking to me, and I’m very involved in their daily lives.
We work so hard at our jobs, crossing our t’s and dotting our i’s and I believe we have to put that same effort in with our kids. You can’t throw them out there and expect them to be stellar citizens. You have to invest yourself in your kids’ lives.
We are very hands-on parents. We are constantly checking on what they are doing. We are very involved. At some point, we can step back and hopefully say job well done. But, I’m 51 and my mom is 72, and she was with me last week and still tells me what to do, telling me my lipstick was too dark.
It starts when they are little but it’s never too late to take an interest in your child’s life.
Q: When you stand in front of a group of women, how do you push them to pay attention and step up to make a difference?
A: It’s one of those things – women wear many, many hats and there is a lot expected of us from a lot of different entities so I try to talk about balancing yourself. You can’t be all things to all people, but you can pick several things and do them well.
I never want women to lose sight that they pass by so many people each day in all the areas of their life and we tend to overlook those that need help – we tend to look at the next thing before we figure out the now.
Q: Any final words of encouragement?
A: Plug yourself in. Get involved. Remember even though you are one person you can make a difference Even the small things matter – maybe it is opening the door for someone or holding a baby while a mother is writing a check at the grocery store. And, come to the Women’s Fund event. I look forward to seeing you there.