In the next chapter of her career, Tonya Lewis Lee is dedicated to breaking new ground. Wearing many hats as Wife, Mother, Producer, Author and Creator of an All-Natural Wellness Brand. Speaking on her wellness lifestyle journey with BELLA, Lee said, “Through Movita, it is my hope to galvanize a community of women to live their healthiest lives talking to them peer to peer because just like them I know how hard it is to be as healthy as I can be. So, through content and products that help women, I do hope to reduce the disparity in health rates between Blacks and Whites which will ultimately make everyone better.”
There’s something very effortless about such an accomplished woman. However, Mrs. Lee puts any assumptions to rest that’s it’s luck. Mrs. Lee is fiercely intelligent, yet relatable and reminds us all that with hard work, we too can accomplish insurmountable goals.
We appreciate you taking time to chat with us! Can you share with Bella readers about your background?
Tonya Lewis Lee:I grew up moving around starting in New York and graduating from high school in St. Louis. I’m a lawyer by trade. I went to law school at the University of Virginia and practiced law for two years. After getting married I turned to creative endeavors, writing and producing. I’ve written three children’s books, ‘Please Baby Please’,‘Please Puppy Please’and ‘Giant Steps to Change the World’which have sold over a million copies. I started producing 20 years ago for Nickelodeon.
On May 24, 2019, the second season of my show ‘She’s Gotta Have It’will begin streaming on Netflix, and on September 27, 2019, my film, ‘All Rise’ will be in theaters.
You and your Husband, Spike Lee, have intentionally mastered the art of advocacy and though popular culture, why is this such an important mission for you both?
T.L.L.We both know that we would not have the opportunities we have had if it had not been for the voices, blood, sweat and tears of a lot of people who have come before us. We have to use our time on this earth to further the cause and to rally the troops of young people coming behind us.
What has been your professional journey with health and wellness?
T.L.L:In 2007, I became the spokesperson for the national campaign, ‘A Healthy Baby Begins With You’, an infant mortality awareness raising campaign out of the US Department of Health and Human ServicesOffice of Minority Health. For many years, I traveled the country with the campaign talking and learning about the issues of infant mortality and the death of an infant after a live birth before its first birthday. I produced a documentary on our work in the film, ‘Crisis in the Crib, Saving our Nations Babies’. Furthermore, we started a college program for students called Preconception Peer Educators to target students with health messages especially around preconception health and to encourage them to become peer educators on their college campuses.
I also started a website called Healthy You Nowwith the intention of acting as a peer educator myself to a broader audience. It was through Healthy You Nowthat I met my partners in Movita and founded the company.
What do you do in regards to self-care and/or finding harmony in your lifestyle?
T.L.L:For me, self-care begins with working out and eating well. I admit that I have to force myself to work out most days, but I always feel better and food matters. I like to eat things that make me feel good that I know are feeding my cells.
Why did you decide to start Movita Organics and what does the name mean?
T.L.L: I founded Movita to serve as tools in a woman’s arsenal as she is working towards trying to access her healthiest life. The name Movita is really a play on my husband’s film, ‘Mo Better Blues’. Movita is to me More Vitality.
What new products is Movita launching?
T.L.L: Movita just launched a prenatal and beauty supplement and we are talking to our scientists about creating new formulations.
Why do you believe Movita products are important?
T.L.L: Movita products are important because they are a good quality, certified organic vitamin supplement that contain what we say they contain. They are also easy on the stomach, can be taken on an empty stomach and the multi is one-a-day and the prenatal while it is two-a-day it is two-a-day once. Easy, done.
What sets Motiva Organics apart from other Vitamin brands on the market?
T.L.L: We are a certified organic supplement, certified by an independent third party. We can be taken on an empty stomach without fear of an upset stomach.
Can you share with our readers your intention to bridge the health and wellness gap of African American women?
T.L.L: Infant mortality is the marker of a healthy community. The death of a child after a live birth before its first birthday is considered infant mortality. That death could be caused by many different reasons but is often exacerbated by low-birth weight or premature birth. Inthe United States African-Americans have 2.2 times the infant mortality rate as non-hispanic whites. Which means that as a community our health is generally less than that of whites. And when it comes to maternal mortality, death due to complications from pregnancy or childbirth or within six weeks after giving birth, Black women index 3 or 4 times higher than white women regardless of education or income. Thus, there is a gap in the health of black people and white people in the United States not related to education and income. I don’t know that Movita itself can solve the problem of health disparities in the US. The issues are so complex. But Movita gives me the platform to be able to continue the conversation about overall health and what it means to access a healthy life and what to look out for in the world. And meanwhile Movita is a quality product that can help deliver good nutrients and maybe be one step in helping a woman find her groove towards a healthy routine.
Further, I intend to produce film, television and literary content around the issues of health.
Through Movita it is my hope to galvanize a community of women to live their healthiest lives talking to them peer to peer…because just like them I know how hard it is to be as healthy as I can be…. So through content and products that help women I do hope to reduce the disparity in health rates between Blacks and Whites which will ultimately make everyone better.
Bella’s Tag Line is “Beauty Defined by You!” How do you define Beauty?
T.L.L: Beauty is love…love of self…love of humanity…that shines from the inside out.
Tonya Lewis Lee created Movita to help women gain a baseline of good nutrition, and a practice of positive choices that support a lifestyle of well-being. Tonya’s professional journey into health and wellness started in 2007 when she began serving as the National Spokesperson for the “A Healthy Baby Begins with You” campaign initiated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. It was through this work as a women’s health advocate that her own health journey took form, ultimately embarking on a lifestyle of wellness. This personal health journey coupled with her entrepreneurial spirit led Tonya to create Movita. www.movitaorganics.com
Photos by Keith Williams, Whitney Thomas