Paula Deen, whose television career and sponsorship deals took a hit after she admitted to using a racial epithet, said she identifies with “that black football player who recently came out,” reports TheWrap.com, citing a People magazine cover story.
“I feel like ‘embattled’ or ‘disgraced’ will always follow my name. It’s like that black football player who recently came out,” Deen said. “He said, ‘I just want to be known as a football player. I don’t want to be known as a gay football player.’ I know exactly what he’s saying.”
The reference was apparently to the first openly gay NFL prospect, Michael Sam of the University of Missouri.
"And since television personalities Phil Robertson (‘Duck Dynasty’) and Nigella Lawson (‘The Taste’) endured scandals last year without any noticeable damage to their careers, Deen has developed newfound ‘empathy’ for those scrutinized by the media," the report adds.
Said Deen: “It’s amazing that some people are given passes and some people are crucified. I have new empathy for these situations, though. My dad always told me, ‘Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.’”
The former Food Network star told People magazine that she’s “fighting to get my name back.”
"I used to have dreams that I lost everything," she said. "And when it finally happens, you think, ‘I’m still alive.’”
Deen is hoping to revive her business, following a $75 million-$100 million deal with private investment firm Najafi Companies, People notes.
TheWrap notes that a rep for Deen’s new company, Paula Deen Ventures, "said earlier this month that it is currently speaking with several ‘TV networks, retail chains and other possible partners.’ Food Network is not one of them."