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Kean University

Bestselling Author, Foodie Tabitha Brown Wows Crowd in Kean President’s Distinguished Lecture Series

Tabitha Brown faces camera, talking with Darlene Repollet

Emmy winner, New York Times bestselling author and vegan foodie Tabitha Brown brought her upbeat message of authenticity - with a dash of cooking advice - to the Kean University President’s Distinguished Lecture series this week.

Speaking in a sold-out auditorium with Kean students, faculty, alumni and community members, Brown described her journey from her North Carolina childhood to her Hollywood success and offered advice to the audience.

“Be authentic. Be who you are,”  she said. “The best way to reach success is being true to yourself.”

Tabitha Brown with a group of Kean students in a classroom

Darlene Repollet, a former corporate human resources executive and the wife of Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D., moderated the lecture. 

Repollet said she was drawn to Brown’s words of wisdom and infectious smile, adding she “satisfies the hunger of millions of people with her approach to veganism and her wholesome personality.”

A media star who won an Emmy for her children’s program, Tab Time, and has 13 million-plus followers on social media, Brown showcases her bright personality in four books, including her newest - I Did a New Thing, an inspiring blueprint for change, literally by trying something new each day. Following the lecture, Brown signed copies of the book. 

She also participated in a smaller session with Kean students before the Distinguished Lecture event.

Brown, who had been a successful actress and dabbled in various jobs and ventures, said she launched her social media career with cooking videos made in her kitchen. The earliest ones earned just a handful of views, she said, then in 2017 one went viral. 

“Get out of your comfort zone - it just may change your life,” she said. 

Brown, who appeared on Good Morning America the morning before the lecture, and is now on a book tour with I Did a New Thing, credited her accomplishments to her faith in God, her support team and her commitment to being herself. 

“I don’t do anything that doesn’t align with me,” she said. “If you say what you mean and mean what you say, that’s enough.”

At both the lecture and student session, enthusiastic listeners lined up to ask Brown about maintaining authenticity, having confidence to pursue goals, and eating and staying healthy. A few asked about her signature vegan products - pickled okra was one - and method for making carrots taste like bacon.

“I thought they were amazing,” Brown said about the Kean students. “Somebody’s doing the right thing here.”

Kean freshman psychology major Adour’e Mitchell-Williams of Newark came with her mom, Asmita Mitchell, to the lecture. She asked a question about Brown’s natural hair, and afterward, she and her mom were beaming.

“I love how everyone in the room looks like me,” Adour’e said. “I love how it’s very positive energy.”

Twanda Porterfield-Muslim of Plainfield, whose five daughters graduated from Kean, also attended the lecture. Four of her daughters joined her.

“She’s wonderful, she’s warm, she’s encouraging,” Porterfield-Muslim said of Brown. “It was a family outing, and we get to read her new book.”

In addition to her media work, Brown is a wife, mother and the co-founder and CEO of her own healthy haircare line, Donna’s Recipe; has launched multi-category product lines with major retailer Target; and brings sunshine to kitchens everywhere with her signature McCormick seasonings blends and mixes.

Kean Adjunct Professor Shalonda Archibald, who lined up for Brown’s book-signing, said she was inspired by all her achievements and message. 

“I just knew I needed to be here,” Archibald said. “I am so inspired.”

For more information on Kean’s President’s Distinguished Lectures, visit