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Laila Ali to serve as book fair ambassador

CRENSHAW — Boxing champion, home chef, wellness advocate, author and television personality Laila Ali will serve as the ambassador to the 13th annual Leimert Park Village Book Fair Aug. 24 at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

Each year a celebrity or community leader holds the ceremonial title of book fair ambassador. In this role, they function as the spokesperson for the book fair.

Ali is familiar with the Leimert Park Village Book Fair and has wanted to participate for years.

“I had been invited a few times and my schedule just didn’t permit,” Ali said. “This year I really wanted to make sure I was there because I’ve been wanting to do it and I really want to come out and be a part of my community.”

The theme for this year’s edition of the book fair, “We Do This for the Culture: Celebrating Our Collective Culture,” follows the book fair’s commitment to promote literacy in an entertaining, engaging and informative way that benefits the Greater Los Angeles community.

Ali, the daughter of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, is a firm believer that literacy produces confidence. 

“My confidence comes from preparation and being confident is being empowered,” she said. “The more confident you are, the more you can go after whatever it is that you want in life.  … So, the more literate you are, the more educated you are, which leads to more confidence and thus you’re going to be more empowered.”

Ali’s latest book, “Food for Life: Delicious & Healthy Comfort Food from My Table to Yours!” will be on sale at the book fair along with her line of organic seasonings called “Laila Ali Spice Blends.”

The new cookbook features more than 100 of Ali’s favorite recipes that may be made by those new to home cooking and also those who may be more experienced home cooks. Many of the recipes are also made with Ali’s own seasoning blends.

“My style of cooking is like comfort foods, everyday foods but prepared in a healthier way,” Ali said. “I like to take meals that we love, that most people love, and then just try to figure out ways to make them more nutritious.”

Some of Ali’s favorite recipes shared inside the book includes a stew chicken, sweet potato pie, turkey tacos and oven “fried” chicken. A few of the more kid friendly dishes are spaghetti for breakfast, chicken fingers, fries and pancakes.

Ali’s penchant for cooking is something that many people may not know about her and she’s excited to share that with fair goers.

As this year’s ambassador, Ali will not only showcase her new cook book, “Food For Life,” and her sassy seasonings, she will also conduct a live cooking segment on the main stage of the book fair.

“I’m going to cook two recipes on the stage,” Ali said. “One of them is a jambalaya recipe and I have a cold salad recipe, like a succotash.”

“We are absolutely thrilled to have Laila Ali serve as our 2019 Leimert Park Village Book Fair Ambassador,” said Cynthia Exum, executive producer and founder of the Leimert Park Village Book Fair. “In and out of the ring, Laila is a champion and a wonderful role model for young women around the world, and a true testament to her father’s legacy of empowerment and humanitarianism.”

As book fair ambassador, Ali will help guests feel inspired through her messages of empowerment.

“I think that we need to enrich our lives holistically, so definitely through reading, through eating, through just trying to be the best version of ourselves that we can be,” Ali said. “Sometimes we get caught up trying to keep up with other people or trying to be like other people. It’s OK to have inspirations, but at the end of the day you have to figure out what works best for you and then be consistent.”

The book fair is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Aug. 24 inside the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, 3650 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Admission is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit www.leimertparkbookfair.com.