Eleanor Hinton Hoytt is president and CEO of the Black Women’s Health Imperative, where she works to advance the health and wellness of black women and girls. Before participating in a panel on why cancer kills more African-Americans, she talked about the pitfalls of lying in the Zócalo green room—but admitted that growing up, she lied to her dad about smoking.
Who is your favorite artist?
His name just escaped me—I can see his work. But I’m going to say Faith Ringgold.
What do you eat for breakfast?
Oatmeal. I love oatmeal.
When, if ever, is it OK to lie?
Whenever’s necessary. [Laughs.] I don’t believe in lying. Because you can never remember the lie. You just can’t do it.
What’s the last song that got stuck in your head?
“At Last,” Etta James.
If you had one more hour in the day, how would you use it?
I would sleep; I don’t sleep a lot.
What do you wake up to?
Faith in the day. Prayerful. Believing in what I do. But being very prayerful and thankful and grateful for my life.
What was the most important year of your life?
I know I should say 1973, when my daughter was born. And so why don’t I say that, just in case she reads this …
How did you get into trouble as a child?
I didn’t. I was the perfect child! … I smoked—I smoked early. I’m from the South, from tobacco country, and I guess that’s when I would get in real trouble with my brothers. I had two brothers, and they would tell my father that I smoked, and he’d say, “Not my baby,” and I’d lie.
What salad dressing best describes you?
There is a lemon dressing that has just come out that’s smooth and a little tart and a little sweet—but smooth.
What was your worst subject in school?
That’s a hard one because I avoided statistics, and that would have been it. I just don’t remember having a bad subject, being as smart as I am. [Laughs.] I loved school, and it was so long ago.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever been given?
I have a gift that keeps on coming. Every February, around my birthday, my daughter takes me on a spa trip for a week. This year it was to the Atlantis in the Bahamas. The best of all of those spa weeks is Canyon Ranch.