Al Reynolds was in his early thirties when he was thrust into the limelight while dating and then, in 2004, marrying attorney and TV personality Star Jones, best known for her former co-hosting gig on ABC-TV’s The View. Al, who was seven years Star’s junior, saw his four-year marriage to her become tabloid fodder that began with a spectacular over-the-top wedding that caused some backlash. Star received criticism for plugging her nuptials’ corporate sponsors at length on her talk show. The negative press about the lavish ceremony was cited by Barbara Walters allegedly as a reason why Star’s ABC-TV contract wasn’t renewed in 2006.
After the couple divorced, Al explains how the uncoupling turned him into a media caricature. The tabloids branded Al the poster child of deceit, lies, and duplicity, who had been after Star’s money all along. He experienced a backlash of hostility and animosity. It took years for him, as he tells it, “To get my frequency back.” He had to recalibrate and rebrand himself, and the uphill climb back to respectability was far from easy.
However, this old news is now shelved and gathering dust!
Al has gotten his mojo back by co-hosting Fox Soul television network’s hit show TEA-G-I-F, which also airs on YouTube. He is joined by Claudia Jordan and Funky Dineva (aka Quentin Latham). For the past two years, the dynamic trio has shared their views (and shade) on the show, zeroing in on the hottest celebrity news and what’s trending on social media.
But there is an Al who has not been so publicly shared. He is a decent country boy with biblical roots. Dr. Reynolds is a dignified, educated, hardworking man with pride, morals, and scruples who wants so desperately to discard the negativity that has followed him up until now.
Al, who grew up in Horsepasture, Virginia, is the youngest of six children. He was raised in a three-bedroom mobile home. The Reynolds family were devout Southern Baptists. Church and the bible were at the very core of his family’s foundation. There was bible school, missionary meetings, Sunday school, choir practice, and youth ministry, so the family demonstrated steadfast faith in God, and it seems Al’s religious convictions remain unwavering.
Interestingly, while growing up in Horsepasture, Al was privy to the familial whispers of a possible lineage to Richard Joshua “R.J.” Reynolds, owner of the famed R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. He also believes his surname is ancestrally linked to the Reynolds Group Holdings, founded by R.J.’s nephew Richard H. Reynolds, Sr. The packaging company with roots in the former Reynolds Metals company was the second largest aluminum company in the U.S. Yes, Al R-e-y-n-o-l-d-s believes he may be related to both of the obscenely wealthy Reynolds families and so much so that he’s even hired a genealogist to possibly uncover the truth.
Dr. Reynolds, who earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Old Dominion University, has quite an impressive and diversified professional background, including being a team leader responsible for launching three billion-dollar pharmaceutical medication campaigns (one being Viagra). He’s also been an investment banker for Merrill Lynch, a university professor at Florida Memorial University, talent and development executive vice president for SiriusXM Radio, and executive global ambassador for the Gant fashion line.
Al has undoubtedly cast a wide career net in the entertainment, fashion, sports, music, and media industries. As vice president of talent relations, marketing, and business development of his company, Champion Advisors, LLC, which launched in 2005, Al collaborates with top-notch organizations to help them strategically seed a multicultural presence in the marketplace.
Al was leading a successful life as a businessman and bachelor when in 2017, at age 49 years old, he decided to go public with his bisexuality. Even though he now admits the decision to come out was liberating, he had struggled for years with the feeling that he was unworthy of God’s love because of his sexuality. Al’s ingrained religious beliefs had held him hostage, until he finally came to accept his authentic truth.
Still, life for Al has been a mix of highs and lows. He has been homeless and has had to sleep in his car. He also settled an arduous $5 million lawsuit with Magic Johnson and his business partners over an alleged breach of contract regarding a deal with the NYPD.
When Claudia Jordan asked Al to join TEA-G-I-F, he admitted to a smidge of hesitation in having to step out of his comfort zone. Many are surprised to discover the real Al, Mr. Reynolds, Dr. Reynolds. No longer will the now TV personality come to be known as Star Jones’ ex-husband. We see Al’s brilliance, knowledge, expertise, caring, diligence, and understanding, and we especially love his forthright opinions. We finally see the depth of who he is as he continues to evolve. And there are many more layers of himself to uncover and reveal to us.
If you haven’t done so, you had better sit up and take notice of the man who gives us BOLD talk on everything, Al Reynolds.
50BOLD: Al, you are one of six siblings; is it true you began driving at age nine?
Al: (laughs) See, that’s what happens when you are the youngest of six. My mother had me late in life. The next sibling after me is six years older. Everybody was driving, everybody was getting their license, and when I came along, I had to do the same.
Honestly, my dad was one of those men who felt driving was very important. I watched him teach all my brothers and sisters. I was eager to drive. It was a big deal for me. Watching my brothers and sisters get cars just kind of influenced me in the biggest way.
50BOLD: Your parents let you drive at nine? Did your feet even touch the pedals?
Al: Well, I would sit on my dad’s lap. He would let me drive to my grandparent’s house in Christ, Va., my dad’s birthplace. He would let me drive after we got off the major highway. My dad would then put me on his lap, and I would start driving; that is how it all started. Eventually, when I was old enough to reach the pedals, he’d let me drive on back roads.
50BOLD: (laughs) Now, Al, this is blowing my mind. I understand you are related to the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and to the aluminum giant Reynolds Group Holdings family.
Al: It’s interesting because I actually hired a genealogist to solidify facts and really give me the confidence to speak on my family connections to the Reynolds family. I’m waiting for all the missing pieces to come together. I really would like to connect with that side of the family.
50BOLD: I read somewhere that you had been homeless; is this true?
Al: (laughs) Yes, yes, yes! It’s really funny to me because when you are going through it, you’re just surviving. I was homeless. I was living out of my car and still trying to make things happen.
I was couch surfing and trying to become employed again. My very public marriage and very public divorce had a very dramatic effect on my professional life; they were situations that probably took 10 to 12 years to dig myself out of in earnest.
50BOLD: For real? Did it take you as long as 10 to 12 years to get your life back?
Al: My divorce happened when I was in my 30s. I have spent a lot of time rebuilding my life. I was not only rebuilding personally but professionally because it was very, very difficult for me to find a job, especially in banking.
50BOLD: Were you blacklisted after being married to Star Jones?
Al: You know what? Let’s say because of the circumstances surrounding the marriage, the blacklisting came from all of the media. Whenever people Googled my name, they saw negative stuff about me. They saw the sexuality questions and accusations. They saw the media’s branding of me as a lying, deceitful person who had reportedly stolen Star’s money.
At the time, I was working with people. I was in a trust-driven career managing people’s money and working on people’s taxes. My job was trust-driven.
A lot of people took what they had read about me to heart. A lot of people absorbed all the nonsense and ridiculousness that had been printed about me and believed it. The media painted a caricature of me. They would print false information about me as if it were the gospel truth, and I, in turn, would become a question mark during a hiring process. A lot of people passed on me because they did not want the negative attention involving their firms.
50BOLD: Would you say your divorce from Star Jones was like a dark cloud hanging over you?
Al: Definitely! It was a dark cloud that I honestly felt was hanging over me for a very long time until I finally found my voice. You have to take accountability for every cycle of your life. For everything you do, for everything you experience, you have to take accountability for the good, the bad, and the ugly in your life.
As I evolved in life, I felt it necessary for me to step back and recalibrate. I had to rethink what was important, what was real. Who was Al? So, I put myself in a kind of self-imposed captivity because I needed to figure things out. I needed to sit still. Because of my success so early in my career, I used to think I was one of the best manifestors. I wanted to get my frequency back. I had to get back to the level I had always been on; this has been what the last 10 years of my life have been like, a getting back to me. The pandemic greatly realigned me with my frequency.
50BOLD: Talk, talk, what do you mean?
Al: In the dire straits of death, illness, and sickness, the opportunity birthed itself for me to be part of the Fox Soul Family. It was the birth of my ability to find my voice, share my truth, and walk in my authentic self. I started to reconnect with my true frequency; people saw it, people felt it, and now, they know it. If you watch the show, you really get a front seat to the real Al Reynolds.
50BOLD: I, too, will be honest; I just knew you as Star Jones’ ex-husband. And when you were featured on TEA-G-I-F, I was like DAMN! I had not been introduced to the real Al Reynolds before the show. I didn’t know you as someone who is so deep; I truly had no idea.
Al: Right! So, the show has honestly been a life jacket for me. I am experiencing a rebirth. I have been very excited to accept it all and to walk in it. I am truly the very same Al from 20 years ago!
50BOLD: We did not know you, and we’re loving you! Now, as far as your relationship with Claudia Jordan and Funky Dineva (aka Quentin Latham), your co-hosts on TEA-G-I-F, it appears you all really do get along. Are you truly enjoying the shared experience?
Al: Absolutely! It is so interesting how we all came together. We had all attended Cynthia Bailey (former Real Housewives of Atlanta co-star) and Mike Hill’s (sportscaster) wedding. I actually rode to the wedding with Claudia because we stayed at the same hotel and Gary With Da Tea (Rickey Smiley’s radio show co-host). We were just clowning, having fun, and can you just imagine our antics? We went to the wedding in the middle of COVID in October 2020.
I didn’t know Funky. Claudia and I were friendly and would see each other maybe two or three times a year. And when I did see Claudia, we would hang out and enjoy each other’s company.
Claudia came up with the idea of putting us all on air when we left the wedding. Now, she tricked us. She told us we were going to be guests on her show. But Claudia was actually creating a pilot to see how we would respond to one another. And I have to be honest, don’t know if I have ever shared this before, but the process was nothing I wanted to involve myself with at all.
Al: Let me share something really, really, very deep. I came out as a bisexual male, and I’m very comfortable with the label. The characteristic that fits best for me and for my life is bisexuality.
For a while, I had a very hard time and grappled with being called gay. I grappled with being called homosexual. I just feel like this is not my experience. I’m not better, this is just not my experience. Mine is just a little different.
So, when Claudia told me who was going to be on the show, Funky Dineva (who is hilarious), and who used to dress like a woman on YouTube, along with Gary With Da Tea, I was like, ‘This is not me, this is not my flavor!’ Claudia was like, ‘I think you should try it!’ I went home, prayed about it, and thought, ‘You know what? This is about growth, this is about finding my frequency, this is about finding my voice.’ So, I did it!
I was so proud of myself because involving myself with the show was something that I wouldn’t have normally done. I would never have been that courageous. And being courageous, I have been given the opportunity to be taught. I’ve been taught by Funky and where he stands with his sexuality. He has taught me so much!
50BOLD: Really? What has Funky taught you?
Al: Yes! I can’t tell you how much he has taught me. How much he has taught me about respect, about understanding differences, masculinity, toxic masculinity, and its meaning. He has taught me so much about the LGBTQ community. Funky has really opened my eyes to understanding how the community is a spectrum. Everyone lands on the spectrum but in a different space.
50BOLD: I’ve never heard the spectrum described in such a manner, but please continue; it’s all so interesting.
Al: There’s a spectrum connected to everybody’s label. With lesbians, there’s a spectrum. There are some that are more masculine. There are some that don’t want to be labeled as masculine lesbians. They don’t hang out with the masculine lesbians. There are lipstick lesbians. And there’s so much in between. And the same thing with bisexuals. There’s a spectrum. There’s a spectrum with trans people. It’s been a very intense learning curve for me.
50BOLD: On Fox Soul TV, I was first introduced to Cocktails with Queens, then TEA-G-I-F. I gravitated toward you guys because not only does the show cover gossip, but you also discuss current events. You all discuss any and everything. And Al, you are just SO knowledgeable. I can tell you thoroughly do your research.
Al: (laughs) Yes, doing my research is what I am known for on the show. I try to marry the research we have and then connect it to my experience in the industry.
50BOLD: Ok, so how does someone get your attention? And will you ever remarry?
Al: At this time, I don’t think I would ever remarry. But I am very open to having a life partner. I’m open to being in an exclusive and committed partnership. I yearn to have someone I could spend a lot of time with and travel with as well.
I want someone I can trust, have fun with, go to dinner with…chile, someone to do the electric slide with at family reunions. We can go home, have a nightcap, and enjoy each other’s families.
50BOLD: Al, what song title describes your life and why?
Al: It would have to be a gospel song. But I don’t know if this is a gospel song, The Best is Yet to Come. Is it a gospel song? Any song with an undertone of the best is yet to come.
50BOLD: I’m Googling The Best is Yet to Come, and Nancy Wilson and Ella Fitzgerald popped up.
Al: Yes, everything about Nancy and Ella speaks to my soul. I remember going to The Carlyle Hotel in New York City to have a cocktail while listening to them sing with a soloist at a piano; it was awesome. I used to see Nancy perform there a lot.
50BOLD: I love Nancy. She passed away too soon.
Al: She performed at one of our events during my wedding week of festivities.
Al: Nancy was a beautiful woman.
50BOLD: Your wedding was in Dubai.
Al: Yes, my wedding was in Dubai, and we also went to the Maldives. Since we were in Dubai, I wanted to visit the Maldives as well.
50BOLD: Al, you really look great. What is your exercise and diet regimen?
Al: I come from a family of athletes. My mother was a collegiate marathon runner; she went to North Carolina A&T. My dad was in special forces in the military.
Growing up, as early as I can remember, my family would meet on the front lawn at 5:00 am and do stretches. My mother would decide the day of the run, which was practically every day, and whether we would run three or six miles.
50BOLD: Whoa, stop it!
Al: Yep, she was a marathon runner, and daily running was our regimen. She was also a very healthy eater. We raised everything that we ate on our land. We raised chickens and ducks. We also grew corn, tomatoes, cabbage, and green peppers, you name it. We had livestock. We had pigs. My uncles had horses and cows. I am from Horsepasture, so when I tell you I come from the salt of the earth, I come from the salt of the earth! We ate off our land. Our meals consisted of usually lots of vegetables and one meat. The running, taking care of myself, and eating clean, spilled over into my adult life.
I love bacon, though, sorry (laughs)! I love me a good piece of bacon!
50BOLD: (laughs) Bacon, huh!
Al: Ooooh, bacon is my favorite. Other than my bacon weakness, I try to stick with chicken, fish, and cleaner foods. I always try to have a vegetable. And on top of it all, I still try to stay active. I spend a lot of money on my nutrition plan. I spend a lot of money on my trainers. Now, my little workout circuit consists of kickboxing, tennis, and golf.
50BOLD: Al, what is your most treasured possession?
Al: My laugh.
50BOLD: Whoa, wait, let me just marinate on what you’ve just stated. No one has ever stated this to me. Your laugh, I love it. Elaborate, please!
Al: The two things I love to do most are laugh and dance. I can’t dance, but I try so hard. I make you want to dance (laughs)!
I love to laugh! I feel like laughter really creates those endorphins in your body and in your brain to take you to a more positive space. My friends always tell me this. And a lot of people who watch the show have brought to my attention that my laugh is infectious. I’ve always had this very loud, obnoxious laugh (laughs).
50BOLD: You make people happy too. What is your secret daily pleasure?
Al: I love ice cream. Ice cream is my secret daily pleasure. If I could eat ice cream every day, I would.
50BOLD: Al, how do you want to be remembered?
Al: Teaching people what I have learned. Motivating people to be better.
50BOLD: When you get to the gates of heaven, what is God going to say to you?
Al: He’s going to say, ‘Oh, you better be glad! You better be glad I’m a forgiving God (laughs)!’
50BOLD: 50BOLD was started by four women who were editors for Essence magazine over 20 years ago. No one is really speaking to the over-age 50 African American community, and we are doing so. We’ve got to get our voices out and be recognized. Is there anything you’d like to say to our 50BOLDers?
Al: I will say this about the collective, we are probably the most amazing tribe that anyone could access. We lead, guide, and motivate. We are a group that has done it all. We should be marketed to more because we have very high purchasing power. We are influencers to the nth degree. Collectively, we influence our communities more than anyone. We influence the flow of money.
Anyone who is looking for influencers should definitely develop relationships with this 50-plus demographic. What they say as leaders in our community counts! When we look at the hierarchy of business, religion, community, and education, we’re going to see someone of color in their 50s at the helm. They are giving a voice to the voiceless. They are presidents of companies, billionaires like Bob Johnson (founder of BET and founder and chairman of the RLJ Companies), who was one of my clients, and people like Vice President Kamala Harris, Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who are leading and changing history.
We are ignored and shouldn’t be!
50BOLD: So, there you have it…Dr. Al Reynolds!