Holly Robinson Peete on Raising Autism Awareness on The Celebrity Apprentice, Being Apart from the Kids and More

After last week’s debacle with John Mayer, Holly Robinson Peete addressed the matter on her blog writing, “I just hate that anyone would have the impression I condone or excuse racist comments in any context…kids tucked and down… Looking forward to a much more typical Thursday.” And now, hopefully this matter is put to bed as well, because, well, she doesn’t have time for this! The actress got frank with Breezy Mama on being apart from her kids while working on the upcoming season of The Celebrity Apprentice that starts March 14th, wanting back into television in general, raising money for Autism awareness and more!

Are you excited to be on Celebrity Apprentice?

I am. I am very excited, I never envisioned myself doing a reality show for a couple of reasons: One because I come from scripted TV and the other was because it involved leaving my four kids and my husband [former NFL star Rodney Peete] for an extended period of time.

How long was it?

It was a little over a month and it was scary.

Were you able to sneak visits in?

No, no, no because I was in New York and they live here [in Los Angeles] and I was completely away and I joked that my husband was doing his own show called, “Mommy’s Apprentice” [laughs].

How did he do holding down the fort?

I’d have to give him a B-.

Oh no!

Yeah, it would have to be a B- and to his face I gave him an A+, but you know, since he’s not here he gets a B- and mainly just because I got reports back from some of the moms at school that the kids showed up with ashy knees and, you know, I don’t play that.

[Laughs] How was it being reunited with the kids after being gone?

OH MY GOSH! There was a moment – without giving too much away – there was a moment where I was able to be reunited with them when they snuck in and saw me during the actual competition and I hadn’t seen them at that point. I didn’t know they were coming and I was standing there and it was one of those total slow motion moments – totally not mommy’d up, I was in five inch heels and they came around the corner and I was like, “I’m going down.”

They came running at me at all levels and down I went. I missed them so much, but it was cool though. They were very excited and they knew I was playing for a charity. My son has Autism and they knew I was playing for our HollyRod Autism Charity. They got why I was gone, but then they said, “Okay, we’re ready for you to come home.”


So now every time I go out the door they ask, “Are you leaving for a month?” …

Were they sad while you were gone?

I have to give my husband points for not telling me if they were. Obviously they are going to be sad that mommy is not there, but he never told me stuff like they’re crying or somebody had a bloody nose or somebody fell down because he knew that I was paralyzed because [The Celebrity Apprentice] requires your 100% undivided attention at all times if you really want to do well. Again, my motivation was my charity and I wanted to win and I wanted to win big. SO, he didn’t tell me about those things, but I’m sure they were really sad. We Skyped a couple of times but Skyping just made it worse because my baby would start crying – well, he’s four, so he’s not a baby…

He’s still the baby…

Yeah, so he would start crying, so I [decided] it was better if [they didn’t] see me.

In the very, VERY beginning, when you were first away, was it nice to have a bit of a break?

OH! The whole concept of being in a hotel room by myself… you know I had a glass of wine and it was like, “Woo!” I didn’t hear anybody calling my name in stereo, so that was fun. And then I got immediately engrossed in what I had to do for this competition and I got very competitive. And then I was rarely in my hotel except to sleep after that because it was a grueling, grueling schedule.

It’s an intense show.


Was there anything in the show that you regret or wish you could take back?

I was talking to some of the producers and you just never know what they’re going to highlight, but there weren’t any major moments, where I thought, “I don’t want anybody to see that.” But it’s a real reality show and by that I mean it’s not scripted; Yes, they put you in scripted scenarios or situations, but I didn’t see anyone have any disingenuous interactions. I did my due diligence before I did this. I said no several times before I said I would. And everybody I had talked to who had done this before said they would do it again and that it lifted their charity to unbelievable heights. So, I said, “Okay, I’m going to do it!” I don’t know though – it remains to be seen whether I have an Omarosa moment. I hope not [laughs].

You haven’t seen it, right?

No, no.

So, now that you’ve gone through the experience, would you do it again?

Based on the experience that I had, I would probably do it again. Mark Burnett approached me – he knew about my fundraising for HollyRod and he and he and his wife Roma Downey really convinced me. The two of them called me and said, “This is something that would be really good for you.” And I said, “You guys, I’m not going to leave my kids.” And Rodney said, “Nope. I got it.” So, I’m glad they kind of pushed me to do it, because I wasn’t so sure.

Now that you are back in Mommy-mode, was it hard to get back into it? You know how sometimes when you’re gone, it can be hard to switch back?

Oh God. I’ve been telling everyone we need to pitch a new show called “Celebrity Apprentice Rehab.”


You really are in this cocoon so all of a sudden there’s four, “Mommys!” at the same time, [and] you’re like, “Oh my gosh.” So, my husband said when it was over, “You need a couple of days to yourself.” So he sent me to a spa and that was good for a couple of days and then I eased back into it.

Into the thick of it?

Yeah! Because all of a sudden Daddy was the “A” parent. They’d say, “But Daddy says…” And I was like, “Um..” And I love this one! They’d say, “But Daddy ALWAYS lets me.” And I’d say, “I haven’t been got but four weeks and now Daddy ALWAYS!”

[Laughs] Did this motivate you to get back on TV again?

Yeah, I’ve been motivated to get back on TV for the last couple of years. I’ve done some really high profile pilots that for one reason or the other didn’t get on, so it’s not like I haven’t been in the game. It’s just that, you know… it takes a lot to get on TV. I’d be lying if I didn’t say this opportunity wasn’t an opportunity for people to see me again on Network TV, but in the end it was all about my charity and all about Autism and being able to say that word and being able to talk about these families and what they’re dealing with on NBC, on Sunday nights for a couple of hours. You’ve got to love that.

To learn more about the HOLLYROD Foundation, click here.

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  1. How much of Holly Robinson Peete’s HollyRod Foundation really benefits Autism? According to its 1999 990 IRS Tax Return, out of nearly $400,000 in direct public support, only $9,900 was given to charities. The majority of the money contributed went directly to businesses run by Holly or her husband, Rodney Peete. This information is available on http://www.guidestar.org if you search for “The HollyRod Foundation”. You can create an ID for free and see this report. It is sad that the money contributed was not used how the contributors thought it would be used.

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