“I’m Finally Going To Have A Voice:” Tameka Raymond Talks “Atlanta Exes” And New Business Ventures
Plenty of people have opinions about Usher’s ex-wife, Tameka Raymond –based partially on news reports and mostly on gossip — but few have actually taken the time to speak with the veteran stylist to form a developed opinion. Thankfully, we can say we don’t fall into that category as we had the chance to chat with the star of the upcoming reality show “Atlanta Exes” this morning and she didn’t hesitate to speak on all the misconceptions about her — and how she plans to use her platform to correct some of those — as well as how she’s expanding her brand with the newly launched fashion and travel site, StyleWhim.com, and raising awareness for Kile’s World, the foundation created in memory of her deceased son, Kile. Check out the Q&A and all she had to say.
Why did you launch StyleWhim.com?
“I’ve worked in fashion for nearly 20 years, having been a stylist, and I have the show coming out in August so I wanted to capitalize on the fact that I’m finally going to have a voice and a platform. I’m hoping that people will get a better understanding of who I am and what I’m about, with my opinionated self. There’s been so many misconceptions. I look at my Wikipedia page, which someone created – I don’t know who – and it says I’m a hairstylist; I’ve never done hair. That just shows you how twisted and distorted information can be so I thought that by starting StyleWhim hopefully people will see my views, the stuff I like, and some of my favorite things.
“I called [the site] StyleWhim because I do a lot of things on the whim. I’m as spontaneous as they come; you probably won’t meet another person who will decide to take a trip or buy something kind of just as a fluke [like me] so that’s where the name came from. And it’s also a play on the word whimsical.”
What was your reaction to being asked to join “Atlanta Exes”?
“Initially I said no. I was asked to do ‘Hollywood Exes’ but because I don’t live in LA anymore, I didn’t want to put on a façade that I lived in Los Angeles when I don’t so [producers] asked me if they were to bring it to Atlanta would I be a part of it and I agreed.”
How was the experience filming?
“It went well. Of course we had moments where it was trying. You’re dealing with women and different personalities so you’re going to have your occasional spat here and there, but that’s how it is in life. You’re not going to hang out with a couple of girls for months on end and not have disagreements. That’s not even realistic.”
Is there any truth to rumors that you quit the show?
“I definitely contemplated quitting the show. I never did quit, but I did think about it. I got mad and at the end of the day I don’t want to be involved with asinine or petty arguments, he say-she say, and that kind of stuff. If it seems like we’re having debates over foolishness or something seems silly I try to run from it.”
Will we see your kids on the show at all?
“I did film with my oldest son. I’m not sure what they’re going to use, but I did not film with my babies. Maybe next season, you never know. We’ll see if it the show goes on and what it’s going to be about first.”
Are you nervous about how audiences might perceive you based on the show?
“I’m more nervous about how I’ve heard editing can go. You can make a face in one scene and it be applied to something totally different. You can be injected into a scene that you weren’t even at so I am nervous about the editing process, but I do trust out producers from what they told us the show is supposed to be about. I’m hopeful it will go as planned.”
How does Usher feel about you participating in the show?
“He’s supportive. He didn’t say anything negative about it. He didn’t say anything that I know of. He didn’t say that he didn’t want me to do it – not that he could – but I’d like to think he’s supportive of it.”
How is your relationship with Usher now?
What other projects are you working on?
“I’m working feverishly on my Kile’s World Foundation. We have a camp going July 7-25 at the New North Atlanta High School which is really state of the art, modern and fly. It’s a performing arts camp. We focus on teaching kids and giving them exposure to dance and theater and chorus and painting, and honing in on their talents.
“We’re still in the process of enrolling kids. I would like for it to be 50 kids total so we can give them the attention they need. I would love to have a lot of inner city children. My son Kile had a lot of access to everything, as far as gadgets, and he was really technologically inclined, but some kids just don’t have that access or anyone to support them or motivate them. Last year we made breakthroughs with so many kids. They came to our camp shy and they didn’t want to talk, but they left dancing. It was amazing. Parents were crying they were so happy.
“Our ultimate goal with Kile’s world is to open a performing arts school in his name. We’re trying to spread awareness. Arts are the first thing to go in most school programs and we want to open a school that requires a high GPA but will also support the arts as well.”
How did you feel when Beyonce shouted out Kile’s World on her Tumblr page?
“That made me so happy. He was a huge fan. Beyonce was someone Kile adored. She met him a couple of times at shows and at the first inauguration of President Obama. He loved her and she loved him back. She would always ask, ‘Where’s my baby?’ ‘Where’s my boy?’”
To donate to Kile’s World Foundation and check out their events, visit KilesWorldFoundation.org.