Tameka Raymond tends to be a polarizing pop culture figure. Whether she’s being written about on the gossip blogs or judged by her cast mates on the Vh1 reality show, “Atlanta Exes,” her name inspires strong emotional reactions, and many of them are not necessarily favorable. We came to know the celeb stylist (Jay Z, Usher, Ciara, Mary J. Blige) turned reality star when she married R&B superstar, Usher, who was six years her junior in 2007. Critics attacked their relationship, calling her controlling and a golddigger and even attacked her parenting skills. The critics’ tactics worked. Tameka said, “My life changed a lot in being married to him. There was just a lot of pressure a lot of image concerns.” When she and Usher divorced two years after their wedding, all those critics who were hell-bent on hating Tameka felt validated because Usher left her and took their two sons, Usher Raymond V and Naviyd Ely Raymond, as he received primary custody.
Many of you roll your eyes when her face flashes on screen on Monday nights during “Atlanta Exes.” Tameka may very well come off as the sourpuss of the show, but she’s more than a weekly installment of 30 minutes of drama about women who used to be married to superstars. She’s a woman who’s experienced heartbreak. Her mother-in-law protested her wedding. She almost died on an operating table in Brazil. She’s a mother who had to bury her son. “I was considered bitter and I’m definitely not bitter. I think I live a good life. I’m very, very blessed. I have lovely children, I have great friends and I things that are going for me, so I don’t have a reason to be bitter. Not at all,” Tameka vented to #TeamBeautiful over the phone. If you take away all the controversy, salacious headlines and the fame, Tameka is a mother who has gone through a great deal, only to be grateful when she makes it to the other side of the mess.
We chatted like we were in the same homeroom in high school and we had to catch up before first period. Tameka shopped around in Trader Joe’s, picking up snacks for her kids and she was an open book. We chatted about how she’s portrayed on “Atlanta Exes,” what ex hubby Usher has to say about her being on the show and what she’s learned from letting the cameras into her everyday life. You’ll be surprised at how Tameka breaks down the image that reality TV has painted of her. We’re #TeamTameka. Shocked? Find out what she said to get us on her team.
HelloBeautiful: You’ve been portrayed almost as the bad guy. How does that make you feel?
Tameka Raymond: I honesty don’t think the ladies in the cast feel like I am, but I think it’s a television show and there’s a certain amount of shock value that you have to keep interesting. I’m very cognizant about the impressions that I make. They can last. I don’t want to make myself look like an ass on television. But, arguing is a part of life, so anyone who’s judging in saying ‘Oh my God, why does she do that?”…I’ve gotten that already where people turn a nose down at us and not think of it realistically, like in real life, people argue. I don’t understand what life they live if people don’t argue. What world are you living? You’re definitely not part of America or society. People have disagreements. We’re not throwing bottles, we’re not jumping over tables, we’re not coming to blows, no one’s snatching each other’s ponytails off. I know women do it ,but if you look at us, we’re pretty mild in comparison to what I’ve seen. Everyone wants to have their fists up in the air and become Angela Davis conveniently, when they’re just as ratchet– dancing on tables with no shoes on and running around the world with no bras on…
HB: What was Usher’s reaction to you being a part of this show?
TR: He’s not mad or at least he hasn’t expressed that he’s angry over it. Initially, he was like ‘Why don’t you do a show about style or fashion or something that’s related to what you’ve built a career in’ and I just told him the options were so limited for that because those shows don’t really make it. They don’t do well unfortunately. When the networks were talking to me, they all know that I would be great for television, they loved my personality. They thought it was a big personality, but I needed support and I needed other people around me. I don’t think he’s angry about it. I try not to talk about him much on the show. There was something that was brought up once to the ladies, but I didn’t bring that up on the show. It was kind of brought to me.
HB: You and Torrei have been at each other’s throats a bit. She’s definitely hit below the belt when she mentioned your children and she called you a few choice names. What do you want to share with everyone about yours and Torrei’s conflict and how you want to move forward?
TR: Torrei and I are fine. We’re actually a lot cooler than what people probably would guess right now. You have to remember that the show was shot between the months of January and April. That was six months ago. We had our differences. And, I can be misread. If you’re around me, I may seem a little bougie or a little elitist or oh, ‘she’s snobbish, she doesn’t like this restaurant.’ I am a little bit that way at times. I can be. I admit. It’s not that I think that I’m better than anyone. I’m not saying that anything I do or say is better.
HB: Any lessons that you’ve learned about Tameka since you started doing this reality show?
TR: It’s amazing to see yourself on television and you say to yourself, aww, man, you were being a bitch right there or you could’ve kept that comment to yourself. It is definitely therapeutic and the thing is like, wow. I could do better in some areas. So, I definitely owned my role in making things not so smooth. It’s also hard for me because I’m such a loner and I’m a real independent person, so I never joined a sorority, I’m not that type. I’m not the type to be in lots of clubs and groups. I’m just not that kind of way. I roll on my own. I go to a movie and have dinner by myself, so having women around me that are in my space and in my business and in my closet, and everywhere else, that was a bit foreign to me as well. That took an adjustment.
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