Bill Alverson talks Insatiable season 2 and more. Check it out here--->>>
When we scheduled to interview Bill Alverson, Pageant Coach Expert, Attorney, Producer; we thought we were going to talk pageant coaching and Netflix's hit series, Insatiable; which we did. But that hardly scratched the surface. We discussed gender and racial equality, religion, faith, sexuality. No topic was off limits. Bill is much, so much more than an attorney and a pageant coach. He's smart, astute, witty, passionate and real. If we took nothing else away from our talk (and trust me we took a lot); we were reminded of this one indisputable fact; no matter where you are, what you are doing, where you may be living; whatever is for you is for you. You don't need to worry, to fret or break a sweat. Even if your destiny has to travel to a small town like Andalusia, AL to find you; it will. Destiny wins always.
Bill attended college at Auburn University and Law School at the University of Alabama. He began his law career as a defense lawyer representing big insurance companies. He worked in a small firm which gave him the opportunity to perform legal work and to handle cases in his late 20's that most lawyers don't get the chance to at least until their forties. Technology and centralization were the key factors in large firms squeezing the smaller ones out of the market. Good thing Bill had the forethought to do what most other lawyers in his firm hadn't been interested in doing. He started handling domestic cases wanting to work directly with the people in his town. He survived the shift in his industry's supply and demand.
He still practices and now considers himself a "social conscious" lawyer. "I do a lot of criminal defense. I represent the mentally ill. I still do my domestic work and some defense work. Being in a small town thankfully for me justice is my primary call. I'm not trying to get everyone acquitted but if I have a minority client who is facing charges he should be able to expect the same treatment as an entitled white person. With all my background and experience in litigation, I think I'm a little more seasoned to advocate in that regard. It gives me the opportunity to do what I believe in."
We were clear on how Bill went from an insurance defense attorney to a socially conscious one. But how does one go from being an attorney to a pageant coach? The answer was simple enough. Bill got there by doing what he loves to do, helping people. "I sang in my local church choir. The choir director told me, 'I have a sweet girl in my choir that is doing Junior Miss. She has no training but can carry a tune. She has older parents and they aren't sure how to help her. Will you talk to her?' I was like sure although I didn't know how to coach a pageant contestant. I liked pageants. I watched them. I owned clothing stores so my knowledge of style and appearance did help. I worked with her and she won the Junior Miss Pageant. She was not the home town favorite or favorited to win. Just like that, we became the show horse."
From there Bill was in demand and there was no turning back. After Bill had two back to back winners at the Miss America Pageants; Al.com named him the "Nick Saban" of Pageants. When you are called the Nick Saban of anything people take notice. The New York Times did. They wrote a seven-page article about Bill. No typo seven pages. The project was shelved when the editor in charge of the piece was fired. But it was shelved only temporarily. Destiny wins. The Video Section of the New York Times thought Bill would be an interesting topic for their section. In 2014 when the Miss USA Pageant was held in Baton Rouge, LA, it was agreed that the New York Times would produce a video on Bill. Bill reached out to Rhyme Stone Runway in New Orleans, LA for young ladies for Bill to coach. The His Fair Ladies video was produced.
This is when Bill blew us away. From the 4:42 (four minutes and forty-two second) His Fair Ladies video; "I had forty production companies call me and tell me they wanted to pitch it. And from that, I got an agent and CBS bought my life's rights." Forty.
I shared with Bill how I grew up watching Miss USA, Miss America and Miss Universe Pageants with my momma. We love them. But of course, we are well aware that everyone doesn't feel that way. And overall pageants, especially in recent years, have taken the heat and have been described as sexist, shallow and superficial. We asked Bill how he responds to the criticism. "I respond with, What about the first girl I coached? She won her local pageant. Her parents weren't wealthy. The school paid for her to attend the local junior college. She won that pageant. She got a scholarship and went to a four-year college. If it hadn't been for that program her journey would have been more difficult. Colleges that these young ladies could only dream of attending all of a sudden they have a way to go. They are able to say, 'I want to go to Vanderbilt. I want to go to Harvard. I want to go to Columbia. I'm going to Med-School. Or I'm going to cosmetology school and then go to college.' Even the young ladies who don't win still have exposure, experiences and contacts that they wouldn't have otherwise had. If you want to make changes fine. But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater."
We think it's fair to say some pageant critics may have a limited view of pageants and of the impact someone like Bill can have on a young lady's life. "I challenge them. I make them read books. I make them become versed in various topics. I make them expand how and what movies and TV shows they watch. I teach them to become consistent. I work with them to discover themselves. It is my hope that the young ladies who work with me are developing skills that they can utilize and implement in their life long after the pageant is over."
Bill doesn't limit his impact, influence and presence to only when he is coaching a young lady for a specific pageant. "What makes me different is I don't tell a young lady the pageant is June 1st after that I'm done with you. I have ladies contact me long after a pageant is over for advice or just to talk."
They are called "beauty" pageants there is no getting around that. But Bill would push back on making a case that that was all there was to it. "People ask me all the time what can come from a beauty pageant and I think really? Long before a contestant is on TV, a seventeen year old girl goes in a room where five people are evaluating her and asking her about her life, what she believes in and this country. For the first time in her life for about ten to twelve minutes she holds an audience. People actually care about what she is saying. And then when she actually gets on TV, she is on stage and has her moment for an interview, a chance to speak to a worldwide audience about her thoughts, beliefs and dreams. How many of us get that chance? We don't do anything like that in school these days. It's fill in your answer in the circle and what are the tests scores."
Then Bill made our favorite point of all in relation to pageants, "One of my phrases is; life is a pageant. Don't believe me? Go to the beach or go to Spring Break while you are in college that's the biggest swimsuit competition you will ever see." Touche.
Bill knows personally about the drive for equality. "I was previously married to a woman and after 29 years we divorced. I'm now married to a man, Doug. We have been married a year and a half. Although gay marriage is legal in Alabama, seven counties in Alabama won't issue a marriage license. I couldn't get a marriage license in my own county. People ask me, why don't I leave? Some people in the press say if I'm still living in Alabama, I must have sold out. There is a big part of the country between California and New York. If we leave, what will happen? How will anything change?"
Bill and Doug are staying put and working everyday for change and equality. How? "Education can change people's mind. I'm happy to say we are eradicating ignorance in small town USA. My husband and I sit down and eat with the Mayor. I'm a Board Member of my church. I'm Episcopalian. Yes, you can be a person of faith and be gay or bi-sexual. The two do not have to be diametrical opposed. We go to the country club. We are here. I'm optimistic about the future. The good news is the next generation. The eighteen year old's I work with are so progressive on race and gender issues."
At some point we had to make remind ourselves to get back to work. We were so engaged in our "real" world conversation. But I hadn't forgotten I had a job to do. LOL. We discussed Bill's "reel' life. Bill stared in TLC's reality show, Coach Charming, where he met and coached aspiring beauty pageant contestants. The Nick Saban of Pageant's life is also portrayed in the hit Netflix series, Insatiable. In the show, Patty Bladell was bullied for being overweight. Over a summer she was involved in an accident which caused her to lose alot of weight. Bob Armstrong, lawyer and beauty pageant coach, takes Patty under his wing to turn her into a beauty queen.
Insatiable was renewed for season two just thirty days after it premiered on Netflix. But the show hasn't been without its critics. What do they say all PR is good PR? So true. "There was a petition started against the show claiming it was fat shaming. It created alot of buzz which caused alot of people to watch it. When you watch the show you will see it's the exact opposite. It deals with eating disorders/issues and the internal issues behind it."
Bill describes the show as, "very progressive. For example, we have a transgender girl helping someone discover her sexuality being a lesbian. And the two main Bob characters deal with their own sexuality as well."
Season two is currently in production. Bill gave us the scoop on what to expect. "There will be issues of sexuality and still feeling confident when you are having insecurity issues. You have to remain strong and continue to grow. And of course it also has some of the twisted side stories, murder and crazy stuff. Lauren Gussis, who wrote Dexter is our writer. That gives you an insight of her creative mindset for Insatiable. In season two, the two Bob's will still have my personality. However, the storylines will take on a different path than my life. Whereas in season one there were many parallels from my own life."
One of those parallels are the challenges Bill faced when he "came out". "I've had issues where people wouldn't want me to represent children because I was gay. I was also shamed when I got voted out of my firm. They hacked into my email and became aware of my sexuality. They believed they couldn't have a partner like that but they never said it to me. My sexuality was a cloud that I eventually had to work through. And I did."
Bill's personal challenges has helped him excel in both of his careers. He sees himself as more than just a lawyer and a pageant coach. He sees the people he works with and on behalf of as much more than just clients. "I'm my client's advocate and I teach them to be an advocate for themselves. I'm here for them. Some people haven't been celebrated enough in their own life. They don't know who they are or that who they are or what they have could mean something significant. Like I said, I help people discover themselves. My work as a lawyer has made me an advocate and I think it has served me well in my other career as a pageant coach."
Looking toward the future, Bill is very optimistic about a season three of Insatiable. He would like to return to TV. " I enjoyed Coach Charming. I'm looking to do more cameos and working what I do into a show's storyline. We love to create the drama and we want to continue to entertain our audiences. But I never lose sight of who I am and what I want to accomplish. It's also important to leave someone with something that can help them or change them. It doesn't always have to be a big epiphany moment but just something to help. We are always focused on that also."
Bill thank you so much! Our chat was informative, insightful and inspirational.
Please reach out anytime!