“The Belles are back,” and the fans of the OWN hit show “Belle Collective” couldn’t be more excited. Returning for season three on Friday, May 19, the show follows six successful Black women in the city of Jackson, Mississippi, as they navigate the ups and downs of business and life around a common goal of redeveloping the historic Farish District once known as the hub for Black-owned businesses.
Introduced during season two, viewers can look forward to more screen time and an expanded storyline from one of Jackson’s top real estate agents Sophia “So Gucci” Williams. “This season three, I am a lot more transparent. They wanted more So Gucci, and they are going to get a lot more So Gucci. They are going to see a different So Gucci. I got it now. I am voicing my opinion more. You’re going to see a lot more of what’s going on in my family and how J and I are trying to work out this blended family,” says the mother of two.
Seeing more of Williams also includes watching the Southern Belle at home in the kitchen with her husband JJ, a TV veteran from the dance show “Bring It,” which aired from 2014 – 2018. “The one thing about me that people don’t know is that Gucci cooks. My husband says, “Oh my God baby, I love when you cook,” says Williams.
Cooking is a family tradition that Williams learned at a young age, and it was another special man in her life who taught her everything she knows today.
“My mom died when I was 6. So my dad had to take care of ten kids. He had to be creative when he prepared meals, and mealtime was a time when we all gathered at the table. The big mealtime was on Sundays. He was real good with baking and cooking,” Williams shares about her father, who passed away in December of last year.
Coming from a family of great cooks and bakers ahead of him, Alvin Otis was known in the neighborhood for his cooking skills and the hospitality he shared with others.
“I would be the one in the kitchen with my dad. I was just learning how he mixed up the cornbread, what spices he would put in his food. He would teach me because he knew he would be the one having to teach his girls how to be women.”
Greens, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, meatloaf and dressing are just a sample of the soul food classics Williams’ dad would make sure his children cooked and did so well. Cornbread was a dinner staple that he perfected. “We had cornbread with every meal. I don’t care if it didn’t go [together]. We had spaghetti, we had cornbread,” laughs Williams when thinking back to this childhood memory.
As an adult and having children of her own, So Gucci naturally found it easy to make her way around the kitchen when it came to preparing meals for her family. Building on what her dad taught her, she later began putting a healthier spin on his recipes, one that even her husband enjoys. Her kale strawberry salad tossed lightly in olive oil is one of the couple’s favorites.
Enjoying all things in moderation, Williams began championing eating and living healthier through her other business as a personal trainer. She contributes her discipline to fitness as a key factor in excelling in both her personal and business ventures and loves helping others do the same.
So Gucci Fitness
During the pandemic in 2020, Williams saw the need to bring women together in a safe place so that they could still work on their personal fitness goals. She started her hour-long boot camps in her backyard, which she still runs today.
“I actually train women at my house twice a week and I give them a meal plan.” She also gives them homework assignments to report back on steps taken during the day and foods prepared.
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But to know Williams is to know that there will always be that extra So Gucci touch added. “I try to make my boot camps innovative, try to do fun things instead of doing the traditional boot camp,” says the fitness enthusiast who likes to occasionally change up the scenery to train along the coastline on the beach or hike at a state park.
Her challenges of no sugar or meat days help keep participants on the right track. And with tough love, also comes tons of support. “I send out daily texts to motivate them and let them know we are in this together.”
What You Don’t Know About Jackson
With the “ Belle Collective” centered around the cast’s lives in Jackson, audiences are able to see the city in a way that they have never been able to before. Williams is among many native Jacksonians to celebrate how far the city has come in its offerings for individuals, families and tourists.
“I love the culture of Jackson. [Mississippi] is a hospitality state. You can make it in Mississippi. There are millionaires here and one thing I love about the ‘Belle Collective’ is if there is a new mom-and-pop store, a new mom-and-pop restaurant, we’re trying to eat there,” says Williams, who is passionate about using her platform to support Black-owned businesses.
She counts Oops All Vegan and Bully’s Restaurant among her favorite spots for a meal in the city, and we can only hope to be introduced to more through the show throughout the season.
As the city’s food scene continues to grow and diversify, so do the cultural attractions, range of indoor and outdoor activities, music attractions and more.
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“There is this [perception] over Jackson or Mississippi like ‘Hey, they are not doing this or they don’t have this.’ But for once, they are going to see Mississippi in a whole different light.”
Catch Sophia “So Gucci” Williams and the rest of her cast mates on the “Belle Collective” on OWN for season three beginning Friday, May 19 at 8 pm ET/7 pm CT. Be sure to follow So Gucci on Instagram for updates on her big real estate moves, fitness and more. For bookings, contact Denise Jordan-Walker at Candid Public Relations at email@example.com.