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‘Prince Said…’You Rotisseried That Brother ‘: Host Ananda Lewis on the One Interview She Regrets and Her Next Chapter After Overcoming Breast Cancer

Amanda Lewis feels empowered as a breast cancer survivor after building a dedicated career in entertainment and media.

In the late 1990s into the early 2000s, she worked as an on-air radio and television host under BET and MTV. Long before the Lori Harveys and Reginae Carters of today, Lewis was the “it girl,” who was highly recognized and praised for her beauty and brains.

She gained a reputation for asking tough, cutthroat questions during interviews with celebrities and rappers like Jay-Z and politicians like Hilary Clinton on “Teen Summit” and other shows.

‘I Wish I Could Go Back’: Former Veejay Ananda Lewis Urges Women to Get Mammograms as She Reveals Her Own Battle with Stage 3 Breast Cancer
Former veejay and television host Ananda Lewis. (Photo: @imanadalewis/Instagram)

Music fans are still talking about an episode of her MTV series “Hot Zone” where she called out rapper Q-Tip for having a crowd of scantily clad women in his music video. Lewis felt was a bad look as a Black man coming from a socially conscious rap group.

“I didn’t mean it as disrespect,” she said during an interview with Atlanta Black Star. “I meant it as the reality. I felt it like, ‘what happened, you a Tribe Called Quest? Why are they naked?’ You know, that’s how I felt,” Lewis explained. “And the people who hired me knew how I felt. They knew my mouth. That’s why they hired me.”

She said instead it “backfired” into her receiving backlash and what many viewed as her being “blackballed” from the industry.

“I really shouldn’t have,” she continued. “I should have thought about it. It was a moment where this person who was a friend of mine was launching their solo career. I didn’t get the bigger picture. … And that’s a moment I really regret on TV. I wish I had been more gentle and more, more understanding ending, and I wish I had leaned into the celebration more than the criticism.” Lewis said she didn’t realize how “wrong” she was until Prince called after the interview. “Prince called me after that interview and said ‘Girl you rotisseried that brother.’

In honor of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop and June’s celebrations of Black Music Month, Lewis was asked to share to perspective on the influence the genre has had. She said “Music is very collective and global,” but also described it as “very intimate and individual” for the way it pours into people’s lives in different ways.

“Hip-hop is special and I’m really happy I got to interface with so much of it and so much of its artists and so much of its history and being able to do the interviews and toss to the videos and tell the stories,” she added.

In 2001, Lewis launched her own talk show, “The Ananda Lewis Show” which lasted one season. She then began to disappear from the media scene for years, caring for her sick grandmother. After leaving her career in hip-hop media for good, she went on to obtain her degree in carpentry and filmed TLC’s home improvement series “While You Were Out” in 2018.

That same year, the 50-year-old mother of one was diagnosed with stage 3 Breast cancer, which she didn’t reveal until an emotional video on Instagram in 2020. Since then, she’s been sharing her story with the world as well as the mistakes she made by not paying attention to her body early on. 

“I found out by feeling my breasts,” Lewis shared. “I encourage women to do that monthly exam in the shower. And for me, it was soaping up my hands and still breathing and feeling around on our breasts. We have to know our bodies to know when something changes. That’s vital.”

The former veejay had just finished breastfeeding her son at the time when she discovered her own lump. She said she also failed to see the connection between her diagnosis and her family’s. 

“At the time, I was also not doing mammograms, which was a huge mistake because my mom had breast cancer and I knew my chances of experiencing it were higher because there was not a genetic link that we found so far, but certainly a genetic history,” she stated. “So I should have been doing it.”

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women and even more common among Black women, who die at a faster rate than any other race, according to

Lewis believes more women should be having “real conversations” about breast exams and what early signs to look for. Last month, she sat on a speaking panel at Mary J. Blige’s second annual Strength of a Woman Festival and Summit in partnership with Gilead Sciences.

Their goal is to encourage fellow women and men in the Black community to take control of their health. The organization, along with Lewis, is “committed to advancing health and Black equity.”

“There’s power not being a victim, right? Responsibility is different than blame,” she explained. “We have a responsibility that we are not taking full advantage of, that we really need to if we want the health that we speak of, if we want the long life, right?”

Lewis currently uses Instagram to reflect on her diagnosis and share how she maintains her health and wellness with intermittent fasting and natural products and foods.

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