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Lea Black: The Realest Housewife

Lea Black
Michael McElroy

When Lea Black agreed to participate in the reality TV show The Real Housewives of Miami, the wife of the most powerful criminal defense attorney in the Magic City believed it was an opportunity to showcase her favorite place. "Miami is one of the most glamorous, fabulous cities in the world," she says. "People want to wallow in what's wrong with Miami. They can't see the big picture."

As she strolls through the grand ballroom of her lavish Coral Gables estate, a visitor can't help but notice some things you don't see in the average American home — like the fully stocked, floor-to-ceiling wine rack protected by an iron-clad door, or the six-foot gold-plated alligator sharing space with Peter Max paintings and other prominent works of art. It's the perfect place to arm-twist rich benefactors. Lea and her hubby, Roy Black (whose celebrity clients have included Rush Limbaugh, Helio Castroneves, Joe Francis, and many others), have hosted fundraisers for President Barack Obama, U.S. Sens. Harry Reid and Al Franken, and former Congressman Kendrick Meek.

"Trust me — there is nothing in this house that is that big of a deal," Black insists.

Looking back on her stint on Bravo's franchise series, she says, "The worst was not putting in the time to really present myself for the show. I just tried to work it into my schedule, and it showed."

Indeed, television audiences got only a small glimpse into her world. If watching The Real Housewives of Miami was your only insight into the Texas native, you'd think she spent all of her time working on her charity ball, a star-studded annual gala to raise money for the Juvenile Services Department of Miami-Dade County and her nonprofit agency the Consequences Foundation, which helps at-risk youths. But Black is an accomplished entrepreneur too. With a personal worth estimated at $65 million, she created her own brand of beauty products that sells more than 400 product lines all over the world. She is also the co-owner of Whole Woman Wellness Center, a health club in South Miami.

"People would be surprised that my team and I work 14-hour days," she says. "They probably think I have more of a laid-back life. But I think I run at a faster pace than the average New Yorker."

While Lea could sit back and play the role of Miami socialite, she loves running her own company. "Everybody has a responsibility to do something productive in life," she says. "I enjoy being independent."

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