BUSINESS

After The Blind Side: A chat with Leigh Ann and Collins Tuohy

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Leigh Ann and Collins Tuohy.

Ida Williams
Oxford Stories

You’ve probably heard their names before, whether it’s from the movie, “The Blind Side,” or passing by the Tuohy Center on the Ole Miss Campus.

Leigh Ann Tuohy and her daughter, Collins, are diehard Rebel fans with a love for family, football, and giving back to the community.

Leigh Anne Tuohy, a Memphis native, gained recognition and fame through Michael Lewis’s novel, The Blind Side. The story became a New York Times best-seller and was quickly turned into a record-breaking Hollywood blockbuster that earned more than $300 million.

The movie tells the story of the Tuohy family who, took in Michael Oher, a homeless teenager. After a few months of getting to know this young boy, Leigh Anne Tuohy and her husband, Sean, decided to legally adopt him. Oher played football at the University of Mississippi, and went on to be a first round pick for the Baltimore Ravens.

Leigh Ann Tuohy has a Southern accent and sweet personality. She said she has been traveling and talking to different groups about adoption.

“There are 400,000 plus kids in foster care waiting to be adopted,” Tuohy said by phone. “If you have the resources and ability to do that, you should.”

Tuohy said she uses social media to encourage people to adopt. Since she has a strong following (135k followers on Instagram), she uses her platform to spread the word about different projects.

Along with traveling and talking about adoption, she and her husband released a New York Times Best seller a few years ago called In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving and established a charity. She said the charity “provides hope, and improves standards of living for all the children fighting to survive in the invisible cracks in society.”

Tuohy said Oher “had a much greater impact on our lives than we did on his life.”

Tuohy’s daughter, Collins Tuohy Smith, is also a graduate of the University of Mississippi, co-owner of Whimsy Cookies, and a fashion blogger. She has a huge following on social media with close to a quarter of a million followers on Instagram.

“I actually am so excited that you’re doing this project for your journalism class, because I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism,” Collins Tuohy said.

She was also an Ole Miss varsity cheerleader, an officer for Kappa Delta sorority, and president of the Student Alumni Council. She said she has always loved fashion and design.

“I have always been really into fashion and the latest trends, and once I graduated, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do,” she said. “It all sort of fell into place. I started getting a few more Instagram followers, and then it blew up. It’s crazy.”

Collins Tuohy offered the following advice: “Find something that you’re passionate about, and see it through,” she said. “It sounds cheesy, but you have the power to make a difference. I never thought I would be where I am now, and I am so grateful for it. All of it.”

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