You may know Zonnique Pullins from T.I. and Tiny’s Family & Friends Hustle or as the oldest of seven in the Harris household. Or maybe, she’s you favorite on Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta on which she stars alongside Shad Moss (Bow Wow), Ayana Fite and Reginae Carter.
If you’re a true fan, you’ve been rocking with Zonnique since she was sporting electric blue hair and performing on the 106 & Park stage as “Miss Star” from the O.M.G. Girlz. Yes, that’s right – I took you all the way back!
A lot has been going on since her days singing Gucci This, Gucci That. The singer-songwriter has spread her wings in the music industry and released her debut solo project Love Jones. These days, the 24-year-old is embracing a new title: mom-to-be.
Since her official pregnancy announcement on FOX Soul’s The Mix, Zonnique has received an outpouring of support from friends and fans, for which she is grateful.
Watching her career and friendship with childhood bestie Reginae Carter grow brings me great delight. I came to our call excited to chop it up with the songstress about the “myth” of the pregnancy glow, the support of her boyfriend Bandhunta Izzy, and the pieces of advice she plans to gift to her daughter.
After checking in on each other’s mental health, Zonnique and I talked about how reserved she typically is, especially for a reality star and artist. She admitted her reasons why she thought it was finally time to take to social media about her pregnancy, including the build up of rumors and speculation around her pregnancy for the last three years. “When the rumors started coming back up this time and I actually was pregnant, I’m like, ‘I’m gonna share it with them at one point, just when I’m ready and on my time.”
Zonnique made the decision to share her pregnancy with her fans. “I feel like I could’ve gone all the way through the pregnancy and then honestly told everyone because, like you said, I am really private,” Zonnique admitted to me about the easy task of hiding her pregnancy. Though fans were always in her comments with ideas of the “Should’ve Been” singer having a baby on board, she said she would have had to continue ignoring them, but it would have been a bit weird considering they were no longer rumors.
The young reality TV star found out about her pregnancy back in early April, not too long after her birthday on March 20th, and feelings of nerves immediately hit. “I cried really hard. I just felt like I was always the one saying that I’m not ready to have kids,” she admitted about her initial reaction.
“I went through a lot of thoughts and tried to figure out if this is really what I wanted to do, but then I just felt like I can’t continue to try to plan out my whole life myself. I just need to let God do whatever He wants to do with me and that’s how I got into a better mood and say I can do this,” she said smiling through the phone
“I’m excited to have a best friend,” the first-time mommy-to-be said serendipitously. She verbally daydreamed about her plans to do child-like activities with her mini-me. Things going to the aquarium, the zoo and going to Disneyland twice a year with her cousins who also have kids. Though she’s thrilled to have a bun in the oven, the Afrostyle Magazine cover star continued to admit to me that she’s the most nervous about getting enough sleep and maintaining a healthy work-life balance, especially in the beginning of her daughter’s arrival.
With being part of such a large family comes siblings, which she thought would be more than enough compensation to hold her over until she was ready to start a family. “My siblings are like my babies already. I’ve always felt like a mom in a way just because I’m the oldest out of all my siblings, but I feel like because it’s gonna be my own kid, I just know how much my life is gonna change,” she laughed.
Zonnique has learned a stash of life lessons from her superstar mother Tiny. “I remember calling my mom like, ‘I commend you,’” Zonnique said as she reminisced about sweating to strap her sister into her two-door i8 BW.
From planning her lit Sweet 16 to getting in the studio together to pay homage to Xscape’s Understanding, Tiny has truly proven to be a best friend and a mom to Zonnique throughout her twenty-four years of life. Both of her parents, including father Zonnie Pullins, have instilled well wishes, preparation and reassurance that the perfect parenting skills don’t exist. Tiny specifically has assured her first born that parenting is a learning process as you grow and though it’s not an easy thing to do, she will find her own style of raising her baby girl. “My parents have really been turning into grandparents lately,” she laughed.
When I asked The Mix co-host what parenting skills she would take from all three of her parents, Zonnique created the perfect combination of love, understanding and support for the ultimate parenting guide. “If I could take one thing from my mom, I would take the comforting side of her. All of my siblings feel like we could go to my mom for anything,” she said about Tiny. “Even though she’s gonna tell you how she feels and she’s not gonna sugarcoat anything with you, you still feel comfortable to tell her things that you probably wouldn’t want to.” From her pops, she wants to grab his wisdom and ability to transform any moment in time into a lesson.
As she remembered back to a time when she backed her mother’s car into T.I.’s car, Zonnique was instantly shocked by the reaction that her stepdad gave her. “He was like, ‘Baby, those are materialistic things,’ and he just made me feel so much better,” she said. With all of her siblings, she told me, even when things are really rough, T.I. finds a way to develop any given situation into a lesson learned. When it comes to her father, she wants to take his unquestionable loyalty and everlasting support. “When I need anything, I call my dad first because he’s gonna pick up and he’ll pull up. If I have a flat tire, he’ll pull up to the side of the road. My dad is always just there and doing his part,” she acknowledged of her father Zonnie.
Though her parents and her siblings are creating unmeasurable support and love for Zonnique, her boyfriend Bandhunta Izzy has been there by her side unconditionally. “Oh man,” she sighed as she floated to cloud nine, “Izzy is the most excited all the way from the beginning.” She told me that the father-to-be had always expressed interest in a large family with seven kids, similar to his girlfriend’s family structure, though Zonnique was not on the same page. The couple were together when they learned the news of their expected bundle of joy. Though she was nervous and scared at first and he was elated, he comforted her without hesitation and supported whatever decision she wanted to make.
“Since we’ve been going through this pregnancy, he’s been so loving – like extra, extra loving which I appreciate and I’m not always used to because I’m not always that loving, but he’s definitely been extremely loving,” Zonnique gushed about the father of her soon-to-be first born. He talks to and feels on her stomach every day to connect with their daughter. Like her parents, Zonnique would take a parenting skill from the father of two as well: going above and beyond to be with his children. Though his two children are located in Baltimore and he moved to Atlanta three years ago, Bandhunta Izzy has no issue hopping on the first flight out to be with them the moment he misses them. “Izzy really reminds me a lot of my own dad, which is weird. I don’t know why that always happens with females,” she said as we laughed together.
Morning sickness and cravings are the standard early signs of pregnancy, but Zonnique’s has been smooth sailing and easy going. “I never really had morning sickness. I did go through a phase where I couldn’t really eat and I was having a hard time eating, but I just wouldn’t eat. I wouldn’t be throwing it up or anything,” Zonnique told me before telling me that at one point, she would have Charley horses in her sleep every night. Luckily, all is over in that department and it has been easy, breezy and beautiful just like her glowing skin!
“You know, everyone keeps talking about this natural pregnancy glow and I don’t really see a glow. I’ve been waiting on the glow to just hit my skin. I don’t really know if I’m glowing for real or not,” she told me jokingly about the natural glow of expecting mothers. Even carrying five months along, Zonnique’s skin has remained flawless and her routine simple. “I always use these Aveeno wipes which are not even in-stores anymore because they got rid of them, but you can find them on Amazon. Sometimes you can find them in CVS, but the more and more time goes by, you won’t find them because they got discontinued,” she said. Zonnique endorsed them as the “best wipes ever” and has been faithfully using them for years
Keeping her personal style intact hasn’t been too much of a challenge either considering her already baggy and loose-fitted swag in her day-to-day life. “It wasn’t really that I was hiding. I mean, that too, but mostly all my clothes are a little larger than I am anyway so it just worked out,” she said about hiding her pregnancy when going out. “Now that everybody knows, we shall see how my styling chops start to change up,” Zonnique laughed. Even though she hasn’t had the time to pick up any cute clothes for the baby, she plans to dress her in similar baby threads when she was growing up in the 90s during the Xscape era. “I really would like to dress my kid up like that and that’s how I dress anyway,” she said about her throwback R&B inspired baby wardrobe. Though Zonnique is more of a chic minimalist when it comes to baby gear, Tiny is elated at the idea of her granddaughter being a girly girl with all of the bells and whistles.
To her work ethic, Zonnique had been taking it easy prior to her pregnancy and she finally put a team together to support her. Though she was afraid to come forward to her team about her pregnancy because of the stellar year they planned ahead, they were there for her every step of the way. “I’ve been working so much, still pregnant. I just shot a music video the other day where I was dancing really hard and I was hoping I was keeping up with the dancers because I was more out of breath than everybody. I’ve definitely been working a lot being pregnant and I would say literally nonstop. I was resting more before I was pregnant,” said the Growing Up Hip Hop star. Nothing is stopping her bag and they keep on coming.
Her latest venture has been her role as host and executive producer alongside her mother for The Mix, a platform created by Tiny for Generation Z and millennials to drive forward conversation about politics, Black Lives Matter, dating, entertainment and everything in between. “I was excited to be part of it, but at the same time nervous because it’s not like I really express how I feel about things,” Zonnique admitted about joining the cast of the next FOX Soul installment. “Then there’s this whole cancel culture going on, so I don’t want to be cancelled. On talk shows, people are so quick to cancel [hosts] because they have to talk about how they feel when people judge you so quickly on how you feel, especially when you’re in the spotlight.”
In a full circle moment back to the beginning of our conversation, I asked Zonnique about her announcement to her stepfather on live recorded television. What made that moment the perfect time? “For me, it was actually really funny. I feel like people get to watch us on our reality TV show so they could get a piece of reality live and don’t have to wait on Monday. I thought it was a really fun way to do it, to be honest,” she admitted in her loving nature. She was already nervous so she figured that she would do it on the show, let her nerves go and let the chips fall where they may with his reaction. Though she didn’t expect a sweet loving embrace from the gate due to Tip’s protective nature over his daughters, Zonnique believed it was great timing and a funny experience. “It was cool, you know. He’s definitely settling into it a little bit more,” Zonnique laughed.
Before hopping off the phone, Zonnique let me in on three pieces of advice she would gift to her daughter – number one being not to let the outside world alter your perception of how you want to live your life. “I just want to make her as strong as possible coming through the lifestyle that she’ll be coming into,” she told me as she reflected on the entertainment-industry lifestyle she was born into with an R&B superstar mother and multi-hyphenate stepfather. “I would tell her to just take everyday one by one and I would always prepare her for things as much as I possibly can because in my twenty-four years of living, there’s just so much that goes on in the world itself. The outside world is way bigger than what’s going on on the Internet and I feel like the Internet is getting more and more popular, and more dangerous. The internet is honestly a lot to me, so I’d prepare her for that,” she said about the highs and lows of the digital age we live in.
Lastly, Zonnique wants to encourage her daughter’s bravery and determination to be whoever she wants to be in life. “I would tell her to go out and do whatever she wants and she can do whatever in the world that her heart desires. She doesn’t have to be a singer, anything in particular or follow behind anybody’s footsteps. I just want her to do whatever makes her happy.”