Tennessee lawmaker Julia Hurley credits her success to lessons learned while waitressing

By Dahvi Shira
February 11, 2011 08:00 PM
Courtesy Hooters Magazine

For Julia Hurley, working at Hooters to pay her college expenses was an experience that consisted of more than just chicken wings and skimpy uniforms.

The Tennessee Republican state representative, 29, who was elected last November, credits the “delightfully tacky” chain with driving her to succeed.

“Hooters gave me the opportunity to belong to a group of women who had also struggled, or were struggling,” Hurley, who had a daughter at age 15, wrote in the latest issue of the restaurant chain’s magazine, Hooters.

“I was lucky enough to have managers that saw each girl’s potential and coached us, protected us, and helped shape who we are today.”

Hurley notes one manager in particular who stood by her after a six-month hiatus from work due to illness.

Julia Hurley at Hooters
Courtesy Hooters Magazine

“I had gained quite a bit of weight, but he offered [the job] to me anyway,” she says. “He took me under his wing, and within the year I had gotten back into physical shape and had become a trainer for that store.”

Hurley, who represents a conservative district west of Knoxville, acknowledges her work experience hasn’t made it easy for all voters to take her seriously.

“I have taken quite a bit of flack from the public at large during my run for State House in Tennessee for being a Hooters Girl,” she explains. “But I know that without that time in my life, I would not be as strong-willed and eager to become successful.”