Marlo Hampton (@iHeartMarlo) is a force to be reckoned with! We watched Marlo explode on the scene right in front of our eyes during the last season of “Real Housewives of Atlanta.” She was constantly the topic of discussion with her keen fashion sense, criminal past, and infamous argument with Sheree Whitfield. Although we’ve already learned a lot about Marlo from watching her on television, there are pieces of her story that have not yet been aired.
Now, Marlo is proving that there is more to her than just her love for labels and headstrong personality. She has made it her mission to use her own life experiences to give back to the community and make a difference in the lives of young girls. HelloBeautiful recently had the chance to chat with Marlo Hampton about everything from growing up in a foster home and being abandoned by her parents at a young age, to her experience on “RHOA” and organizations, Glam It Up and Simply Giving–a Thanksgiving charity.
Check out our interview below:
HelloBeautiful: We were first introduced to you on last season’s “Real Housewives of Atlanta.” What was your reaction to watching yourself on screen for the first time?
Marlo Hampton: When I first saw it I was like, ‘Why did I do that and why did I say that?’ I learned a lot from it. When you sit and watch yourself, you see some of the things you should not have said or should have said. It was exciting too and kind of surreal- coming up from the little girl from South-Side St. Petersburg, Florida and then seeing myself on a national television screen- it was shocking and surprising.
HB: How did you actually get involved with “Real Housewives of Atlanta”?
Marlo: I was recruited. Someone comes up and talks to you. I was at work one day at my boutique, the Red Carpet Boutique at Perimeter Mall, and this lady came in and said, ‘I’ve heard so much about you! Every time I go and talk to someone about fabulous ladies in Atlanta it’s always Marlo, Marlo, Marlo.’ So she came and interviewed me. That was like the year before and at first I turned it down because I was like, ‘No I’m not interested,’ because I didn’t want people in my personal life and then the second time around I was like, ‘What the heck?’ and I went ahead and did it.
HB: What do you think of this season of “Real Housewives of Atlanta” so far and what do you think of the new cast members?
Marlo: This season so far is interesting, a lot of drama and new faces. Kenya seems like a lot of energy. I don’t know a lot about Porsha. When I met her she was kind of quiet and we didn’t really communicate that much but she is in great shape has a nice body. My main people are Nene and Cynthia- the original King Kong.
HB: I saw that Nene tweeted that she would prefer you to be hired as an official Atlanta housewife instead of Kenya. How do you feel about her making that statement?
Marlo: I’m okay with whatever is for me. Whatever God has for me, I’ll deal with it. But it’s good that she feels highly of me and wants me to be in that position but at the end of the day, it’s just whatever God has for me is what it’s going to be. He’s going to put me in whatever situation He wants me to be in.
HB: Have u mended your friendship with any of the cast members from last season like Kandi, Kim, Sheree or Phaedra?
Marlo: Kim, absolutely not, we never were friends. I’m okay with the girls. We’re cordial. We’re not buddy- buddy but we speak. The only two I talk to personally on the phone with are Nene and Cynthia. Now, when I see the other girls will I speak? Of course. Will I speak to Kim? Or course not. I’ll kill her with kindness and smile and show my pretty teeth.
HB: Your criminal past was brought up on the show but there are other things about your childhood that many people don’t know. Tell us about your childhood and how it’s shaped u into the woman u are today.
Marlo: I grew up in a foster home. I started with my real mother of course but she was an alcoholic and on drugs and she was very abusive which is why I ended up leaving home. I ran away because she was abusive. Growing up, I didn’t get hugs and kisses from my mom, she wasn’t that type. Like the things that a mom would do with a little child, I didn’t get that from my mom. I had a little brother at the time and it was like I was his mother. I was super young. I left home at 11 so I was like nine or 10 years old taking care of my brother: taking him to day care, being his protector and making sure he was okay when my mom was out partying. I look back and it’s sad. I used to feel so bad growing up in a foster home with no mom or dad. I was so angry at the world for years but now as an adult I’ve come to accept it like, ‘You know what Marlo, everything that’s happened to you, good or bad, happened for a reason,’ and it made me stronger and the person that I am today. Now, I can go and sit down with my Glam It Up! girls and let them know that, ‘Hey I was there! I had a mom that did drugs right in front of me and I had a mom that beat me, I was in four different foster homes but if I made it you definitively can too and you can even do better than me!’ It’s really tough. It’s hard as an adult into relationships. Like, the man and woman who were supposed to love me the most weren’t there. Like how do I know you’re going to love me? My dad didn’t love me. My dad left me. It’s just something you have to pray and overcome and realize that God has you and live on faith.
HB: So your upbringing led you to create your organization Glam It Up! Tell us about your organization and what you’ve done in the community to help young girls.
Marlo: Glam It Up! is the Glam It Up Project for foster girls between the ages of 13-17. Sometimes we have 18-year-old girls who are independent living. The first event was a huge event at the W Hotel Downtown Atlanta and about 25 girls came. I call it Glam It Up! because the girls come and get their hair and their nails done. I had someone from New York come in and teach etiquette classes and we had people come in and teach them hygiene and how you go to sleep at night and wrap your hair with a satin cap vs. a cotton cap. We teach them to just love themselves. I take them to brunch on Sundays. We went to a Keri Hilson concert one day and they were really excited to meet her and go on stage with her. The main thing is that I try to do things that I feel every child should experience at home. You should be able to go to a concert and know what brunch is and have a slumber party and be able to get a hug or a kiss. You should be able to cry to Miss Marlo and tell me what’s bothering you, it’s okay, it’s nothing wrong with that. The next thing I want to plan is something with finance. I didn’t know anything about credit growing up. I want to get a bank to come in and teach them about balancing a checkbook. I just want to let them know someone loves them. The main thing is that you need to let a child know that they are loved, especially a young woman. It’s just really sad when you hear the girls stories and it’s touching. If I can change the way they are thinking from a negative into a positive then I have made a difference.
HB: How long have you been doing your organization?
Marlo: About two years now. The first retreat I had was in June 2011 so it was about two years ago. I’m big on kids because I know how it was growing up- not being cute and getting picked on- so I know how it is. Every time I’m with the girls I want their hair and their nails done and I want them to feel pretty and special because once that’s done you feel better and more confident. In the foster home, they’re not paying for them to get their hair and nails done. That’s why a lot of people look at me and say, ‘Oh I’m vain and I’m materialistic,’ but my clothes is what I run to. Some people run to alcohol and drugs but clothes is what makes me feel special. Even though it may sound vain, it’s true.
HB: If anyone wants to get involved with your organization, how can they get involved?
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