Inside Kentucky Health
You don’t have to be “broke, busted or disgusted” to get something from Charla Young’s message for women.
Just three years ago, Young was reeling from disappointment and bound into depression. She had started a television show that was carried in 26 cities, and believed she was on track to become an international media star.
“I really thought I would be the next Oprah Winfrey,” she said recently, taking a break while preparing to inspire 400 women who were attending a workshop at Canaan Christian Church. “That’s what I had in my head, but it didn’t work out that way. I was in Atlanta for the final meeting where I was supposed to sign a contract and make $7 million a year, and the network said no.”
Young said she’d put 18 months of effort into the deal, and suddenly the dream was gone. She admitted to battling depression. But then she decided to write a book, “Life’s Lemons Make Damn Good Lemonade,” and focused her efforts on a movement she called “Power to Exhale.”
In May 2013, she had 70 members. Today, the movement has more than 33,000 members and the organization has staff in 50 cities. Next June, she’ll take 1,500 women to Punta Cana, Mexico, for a retreat.
“I am who they are trying to emulate, but they don’t understand that I’ve been where they were,” she said. “I’ve been down and out, but there is a way out, so I try to be hope, and I try to be real and I try to be authentic because I want them to know I’m not happy every day, but happiness is a choice. That’s what this movement is all about.”
Young’s message to women focuses on all aspects of their lives, including physical health, emotional wellbeing, and financial stability. She’s taken women who’ve never seen the world outside of their neighborhood to exotic locales like Jamaica and Costa Rica. She offers advice on public speaking and calls on her experience as a TV news reporter.
Young grew up in the small town of Amory, Miss., and she says she’s been on stage since she was 2 years old. She earned a degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and became a TV reporter. She ended her 20-year career in TV news at WAVE-TV in Louisville, where her “TroubleShooter” segments were immensely popular. And stressful.
“I was always being sued, or threatened, and it was always high intensity,” she said. “My doctor said I was going to die of a stroke and you’re going to be replaced. I stepped away from that.”
Young said that her message of hope, faith and love stems from her own experience of being deep in debt and facing adversity.
“I want women to know that in a world where everybody says it’s hopeless, you have nowhere to go, nowhere to run, you can have hope, you can do something, you can achieve your goals, you can reach the mountaintop,” she said.
Power to Exhale is growing by 500 – 700 members per month, appealing through word of mouth to women of all types. At the Canaan Christian Church event on Nov. 12, attendees got T-shirts with the message “Power Up, Why Not Now?”
“I think the reason we’re growing is that we take the time to make every woman feel as if she is a queen. We are doing everything but rolling out the red carpet and throwing rose petals at her feet. We are saying that you are a queen and you do deserve the best. If she carries herself in that way, and we’ve taught her that way, it all becomes reality.”