Suzanne takes it all…er, some of it, at least. Below, the joint winner of I Want To Work for Diddy talks victory, Poprah and preparing for the sleep deprivation that lies ahead.
Thanks. It’s been such a big secret for so long that it’s weird to hear that. It’s been really, really hard keeping it secret. In our contract, there’s a million-dollar penalty against us talking about the outcome of the show. I have like $316 in the bank, so I didn’t even know what they’d do if I said anything. But I think it’s more fun for my family and friends to watch along with the rest of America and learn as they go.
Have you started working for Diddy yet?
Nope. I know nothing. Basically, on the tarmac (right after filming the final episode) before he jetted off to Cannes, my new boss told me, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” It had to be top-secret for as long as the show aired, so I haven’t had any interaction with Sean John Combs or anyone in his organization. But yeah, I’m excited and scared s***less. It’s the job of a lifetime and somehow, I landed it.
Diddy’s just given you the job, and you leave Mike out on the tarmac. What was it like onboard before Diddy stopped the plane to call out to Mike?
I was sitting on the plane just feeling like it should have been the happiest moment of my life, but it just didn’t feel right. I was looking out the window watching Mike wave and in my heart of hearts, I thought, Mike deserves this. I felt that he grew the most. He’s so amazing and came so far to prove himself that I would have been OK losing to him, as opposed to Poprah. That would have been a nightmare. All of a sudden, I heard Diddy yell to the pilot to stop the plane and calling Mike on.
You were clearly thrilled to share the victory with Mike.
There’s plenty of room at the top. And it could be argued that we both deserved it. Maybe Diddy felt like we both brought such different skill sets to the plate. At the end of the day, there was this beautiful justice that the two winners were self-made Bronx kids who were in awe of all this happening. You know, I felt like we proved that you don’t have to get in the gutter and be subhuman to win this thing.
You were so drama-free that for weeks, you flew under the radar.
That’s fair to say. You gotta have a game plan when you came on. I thought: I’m just going to be humble, keep my head down and do the job. But at the same time, I knew that this was TV. I knew there was a danger in not being entertaining enough. It was a hard line to walk. I didn’t want to pimp myself out to grab the attention and headlines, but at the same time, the danger is not being an interesting character. I don’t think I was completely myself because there was a lot of pressure and a lot of competition, so it’s hard to be natural. But that’s what I tried: to keep respect for myself and others while kicking ass.
Poprah has had no shortage of disparaging words for you. Any idea why there’s such pronounced beef?
It’s weird. I never really thought I was a threat to her. I don’t think she took me seriously, because I don’t have any background in the entertainment industry. She had tons of skills and the entertainment background. I think at some point, she started to realize I was a threat, and I didn’t realize that until I was watching the show. There was one elimination, after the party, that I saw her run up to Red and say, “Take Suzanne down.” Then a light bulb went off in my head. If she was scheming to get rid of me, she must have been a little bit worried. I don’t know, I think Poprah is her own worst enemy. If she could have just learned from her mistakes, listened to the panel and humbled herself just a little bit, she would have won. But she couldn’t hold her tongue, not even with the man himself! She lipped off to the boss man!
Not coming from an entertainment background, before the opportunity of the show arose, did you ever think to yourself, “I want to work for Diddy?”
No. There are people out there you’re impressed by, but you never think you’d be in their stratosphere to even have the opportunity to work for someone at that level. At the same time, I wasn’t even in that field – I was a writer, a reporter, I worked for the police department. Once I saw that it was real and could be the opportunity, I went after it with all I had.
Once you got the chance to work side-by-side with him and you saw how particular he can be, did you ever think, “I don’t really want to work for Diddy anymore”?
Everyday, starting with the first challenge ever, cleaning his rims at 4 a.m. You know, Harvard grad cleaning someone’s rims, that s*** is humbling. Everyday was a lesson and everyday was a challenge. I figured I could either be humiliated by it, or I could be humbled by it. At the end of the day, I might have a fancy degree, but I’m not too good to do anything. This guy knows what he’s doing. He wants to make sure you do the small stuff with a smile, and once you get through that door, there’s gonna be another door with something more interesting and more challenging. And I felt like that kept happening with every challenge. By the time we made it into the hallowed halls of Bad Boy, I had reconciled myself. I knew what it was going to be like to work for Diddy and how hard it was going to be.
With your vast resume and degree, though, someone might say that becoming an assistant is a step backward. What would you say to that?
This is the opposite of a step backwards. It feels like a thousand steps forward. Look at all of his former personal assistants. They didn’t go on to more assisting. They went on to head corporations and run departments. Plus, Diddy finds and cultivates talent. You pay your dues and then when you find your place to shine, you can move somewhere else in his empire. If I have to suck up a year or so doing stuff that someone else might think I’m too good to do, it’s worth it. Just to be in that empire, it’s worth it. Because I went to Harvard, I’m smart enough to know that working for Diddy will advance my career in ways no other job could.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
That’s a good question. I don’t know. It depends on Diddy! I feel like if I can do this job well, impress him and learn from him, he’s the one I’d go to and say, “OK, you know me. Where do you see me going?” It’s hard to say. I don’t know yet!
What was the biggest lesson you learned on this show?
There were lots of things. One is that you don’t have to put people down in order to shine. Also, I thought I had worked hard, and I am a very anal and ambitious person. But I learned that I had never truly worked hard.
Are you ready for 24/7 sleep interruption?
Sleep is forbidden (laughs)! Yeah, you know, [while on the show], I did it. Your body gets used to it, but I feel like you pay in the end. I wasn’t as sharp or as patient or as tolerant as I usually would be because I was sleep deprived. I guess that’s something you have to learn to live with.
Keep up with Suzanne via her FamousVH1Friends.com profile.