Our writer Alyssa Pinsker got the goods from author Anna Fields about what a rebel deb is, and what it means to be one.
“Put simply, like my Momma always says...Every one of us starts off a debutante, then becomes a rebel, but when we finally grow into our own...we’re a little bit of both.” So writes Anna Fields in her new debut memoir, Confessions of a Rebel Debutante (Penguin Group), which will make every girl who didn’t fit in, acted out, and then ran back home again proud. After finding herself too wild for the cotillion dresses and formals of the South, but too conservative for the North, Fields found a way to reclaim her once-rejected Southern-belle roots while still being herself.
Fields left her hometown of Winston-Salem, NC, for Brown University where she studied neuroscience simply as a continuing effort to keep up with the high standards of the boarding school she’d attended (and was almost kicked out of). After some acting gigs, she drove out to Los Angeles where dumb luck led to a temp job, which landed her a writing gig for the soap As the World Turns. But, it wasn’t until she moved to Brooklyn and experienced the archetypical cockroach-infested “cold, heartless North” that she finally found her niche. Along the way she dishes the dirt on working for Hollywood celebs and New York reality TV stars. Fields’ landlord tells her that as a transplant, she doesn’t grasp the concept of New York living, and at times it seems like he may be right. Like when she’s learning the subways, seeing mice and non-WASPs for the first time, and missing her sorority sisters back home (the ones who were so regal they’d actually ponder aloud to clumsy plebs at formals, “Did you learn to walk at public school?”). But overall her braveness in refusing to change herself to fit in, and her easy, hilarious storytelling, make her a likeable underdog, even if she’s now at the top of her game.
BUST: What is a rebel debutante?
Anna: She’s a woman who will bake a cake, clean a rifle, and drive a stick shift with a smile. She’s a mix of masculine and feminine, strong and soft—like all real women.
Where do you live now?
I spend half my time in the East Village, the other half in Winston-Salem, NC. I think, in general, you’re not “from” wherever you were born or grew up, but where your eyes were first opened to possibility. And that, for me, is Winston.
What’s the craziest job you ever held in New York?
Definitely working as a tutor for [Real Housewives of New York City star] Jill Zarin’s daughter, Ally.
You had some tough experiences in the book, especially at school in New York. How did you overcome adversity?
I’ve been fired and kicked out of so many clubs because ultimately my work and my goal was more important than theirs. I keep my eye on the ball. I stop worrying about what bad things can happen and start taking risks. I consider these to be investments in myself and in my happiness, instead of in fear. I stop competing with others, wondering what others are thinking about me, or what they’re doing. My self-love, my self-confidence, does not depend on others—it comes from God, and it lives within me. With that in mind, I know that I can overcome anything. I’ve heard a lot of great advice. Writer Marsha Norma once told me, “Write the story that will make your Momma want to disown you.” Playwright Tony Kushner once told me, "Nobody can teach you how to write. You teach yourself." But the best piece of wisdom came from my Granny Blanche: “Life is hard. God is good. And everybody does the best she can.”
What advice do you have for BUST readers?
Think outside the box. Explore career choices that your family, friends, and significant others don’t 100 percent understand. Be creative. Be original. Be strong, be a Rebel Deb. But most of all be yourself.
What kind of feminist are you?
A sexy one! But seriously, I think that all women are sexy, beautiful, remarkable creatures. Feminists just seem to magically corner all of these markets.
Check out Anna’s memoir at www.rebeldebutante.com.