At first glance, Claudette Ortiz doesn’t necessarily fit the demographic of the “R&B Divas: LA” cast. At 32-years-old, Claudette is noticeably younger then her co-star Chante Moore, who has her beat by 14 years and Michel’le, who is at least 43. Also, Claudette isn’t much of a diva but, like her TVOne family, she has a story that needs to be shared.
Claudette got her start in the industry in the trio City High. Ortiz shined as the lead vocalist. Her beauty made her the object of young men’s fantasies, but her reality wasn’t as blissful. Ortiz was involved with her band mate–Robbie Pardlo–who was an abusive alcoholic. After leaving him, she started a relationship with Ryan Toby that later ended in divorce.
Ortiz was at a pivotal time in her life when TV One reached out to her to be a part of the new season of “R&B Divas: LA.” We spoke to Claudette about her past, but more importantly where she is headed in the future.
HelloBeautiful: How did you sign on to the show? Did they contact you?
Claudette Ortiz: I’ll give you a little visual. I was in one of the hardest times in my life, I was driving and prayed to God. I said, ‘Lord I know that a lot of people have it hard and I get that, but I need help.’ And I got a text message from Phil Thornton, who is the talent scouter, I believe, and one of the executive producers for cake factory, which was a joint venture for TVOne. And to this day I don’t know how he got my number, but he texted me and asked me if they could have a conversation about me being on the show. And I said, you know what, this could be an opportunity that would provide better for my children, so I went ahead and took the opportunity, because I was ready to go to the military so I could make sure my kids where straight.
HB: You mentioned that you were up, and you were ready to go, you said you had everything, just you and your kids in the truck. I am assuming that you broke up with your mate?
CO: We’ve been broken up for a long time. What happened was, when we got the divorce my house was robbed, I was staying with a family member and my mother had my back hardcore. I had a difficult night, where I just had to leave my house abruptly. It was late, and my kids had school the next day, so I had to go to my sister’s house who lives in Philadelphia and I’m from Jersey so it was kind of far to drive every morning.
HB: You were in an abusive relationship, what advice do you have for women and domestic violence survivors, and how do you know when its time to get out?
CO: You know what, something that I noticed that I think happened with me at that time, your worth is broken down, so in some situations you don’t realize the avenues that you do have to get out. In other situations its hard to get out. People view it as ‘oh girl you can get out of that situation’ but its not that easy. When you’re afraid and then there are not that many options especially with women who are involved. I didn’t have any children with him so, thank God. Women who have children with their abusers, it’s even harder, you don’t want to remove the children, its embarrassing to some women, and then sometimes people have their opinions on how you should be handling something. Most of the time its people who have never been in the situation. So I would say to those women in those situations that, its not your fault, you are worth more than that, you don’t deserve it no matter what, your children don’t deserve it, you don’t deserve it. Pray. There is a way out, and you can find it and do it, just do it, at the end of the day there is no easy way out…. just do it.
HB: I want to know where your career is now, and what you’re doing to make a comeback.
CO: Well, the show as offered me a stepping-stone; I’ve reconnected with Ashley, who worked with interscope with Jimmy Iovine, the label that I was signed to when I was in City High. She’s now managing me. She’s amazing. And she is making a lot of things happen for me as far as the entertainment biz. You will see me in some movies, some shows, ill be doing a lot of interviews, magazine articles, just getting in where I can fit in and doing all this while working on an album.
HB: What can we expect from the new album?
CO: Well, I’m in the whole process of creating the sound, but what were going for is not trying to be too emotional. There are going to be some things that might touch on your heart, but I’m looking for something to uplift people, to drive people, to inspire people. Of course there will be the loves songs because I’m a very loving and compassionate person. But feel good songs, and songs that will help get through your hard times. Because when I was going through my hard times I did not have a lot to listen to outside of gospel. That is something that is heavy on my heart, just songs that will help people get through difficult times.
HB: What are some misconceptions about pretty girls?
CO:I think 2 of them are, that there is nothing inside or pretty women are not intelligent. And the other is pretty women can’t cook, that ain’t true child.
HB: What are your thoughts about dark skin women thinking that light skin women don’t have problems?
CO: That’s false; we just have a different set of problems. And just your light skin doesn’t mean that you don’t have racism. I have dealt with racism from Caucasian people as well as dark skin people. I’m not saying that the struggle is any worse, but it’s just a different set of struggles, because when a racist white person sees a brown skin, if you aint white you black, So I’m definitely not minimizing anything that dark skin people go through, but please do not forget the fact that we are all brown no matter if were light skin or dark skin and we are all beautiful and that we all go through different problems regardless of what color our skin is.
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