Loni Love has been making more than a few headlines as of late. So we were happy to speak with her when she visited our office earlier today. During our chat, we covered all of her hot takes, talked about Amanda Seales’ adjustment on the show and the newly re-surfaced claims that she tried to get Tamar fired. See what she had to say below.
First, I want to talk to you about the new book you have. What’s the title of it? When is it coming out?
It’s called I Tried to Change So You Don’t Have To. It’s going to be the first book from Hatchette Go, which is a part of Hatchette Books. It’s going to be released May 5. I’m very excited about it. It’s part memoir. Part inspirational but it basically tells how I went from nothing to being an Emmy-award-winning talk show host and comedian. And I just think that people always ask me the same questions, so I said, “F*ck it. Let me put it in a book.” And that’s why I did.
Along those lines, you spoke about coming from nothing—recently, you were doing the WW ad on “The Real” and you got emotional saying that you were taught how to eat properly growing up. It caused a lot of discussion online because Black women felt like that was an incorrect statement to make or you were speaking for the entire Black community. Did you see any of that discussion online and what did you think about it?
I didn’t see any of that discussion cuz I was working on—I’m also the voice of “Bridezillas” so I was working on that. But I did hear about it. First of all, I never speak for every Black woman. If you go to my book, it actually explains how I grew up so my statement was for some women. Although, there were some women who were upset, there were a lot of women who understood what I was saying about accessibility capitalism has caused in the poor communities- that has caused us not to be able to eat clean. And not be able to eat the correct way. Which is why you see an obesity rate that is highest among Black females—more than any other race. Even with Black males. Black females have an obesity problem.
The thing that I realized about being on a show like “The Real,” I don’t have the time to explain myself. Unfortunately, we have 6-8 minute segments and you have four other hosts. By the time I get in, I may have 30 seconds and then we have to get out. So that’s one of the downfalls. But I also notice that when I’m saying something, I start a conversation. And that’s more important to me to start the conversation. And they’re conversations that we need to have as a community. It’s not meant to embarrass. It’s meant to have conversations. That’s my whole goal and that’s what my platform is.
WW is a tool to help some women if they want to try to learn how to eat right. 85 percent—and I didn’t know this— of weight loss is about what you eat, what you put in your body and I just was not taught that. Being from a project environment, with us having the government cheese and everything like that, a lot of us grew up like that. I think if people really understood my heart and where I was coming from—and a lot of sisters did—
I feel like people may have felt an embarrassment of you saying we don’t know how…I didn’t say all women and I don’t speak for us. I’m giving you a tool to try to help you. I try to work with brands that want to help our community.
But there was also another component about it, which was Amanda who didn’t understand because she’s new to the show. She didn’t understand. She personally called me and she was like, ‘Yoo…you were talking and the next minute you started crying.’ And it’s like, “Girl, that’s what we do on the show. It’s called “The Real.” It caught her off guard and that’s why you see the reaction that she had. She was like, ‘Do you want to do an IG?’ I said, ‘No, Amanda, this is a show. This is “The Real” and this is what we do.’ And like I said, she didn’t have time to come back and go, ‘Loni?’ We just had to get out. So, it is what it is.
The criticism Amanda Seales has received since she came on the show. I wanted to know how you all are handling it internally. Personally, watching you all interact. But the criticism can be a lot. You have all dealt with it. What do you think about the new wave of criticism Amanda is receiving?
You know, and I don’t speak for Amanda, I’m speaking for myself. I want to be clear about that. It is hard coming on a show that has already been established. That’s the first thing. It’s hard being on a talk show when you’ve never been on a talk show. It’s not a reality show. I think we’re used to only seeing Black women on reality shows. You’re not seeing more than one Black woman on a talk show. And it’s three different Black women right now on “The Real.” For Amanda, this is new territory for her. And I think she is actually maneuvering it very well. You have to respect the space that she’s in. She studies African American history. There was a reason they put her on the show. And we as a group have no problem with it.
Because society looks at Black females like, ‘It’s gotta be reality. It’s got to be drama.’ But you also understand the history of the show, “The Real.” If we would have started the show differently, then maybe wouldn’t be so like, ‘Oh, they don’t like her.’ Stop looking at it as a reality show. Look at it as a talk show. I think also because they put her on the show, some of the fans feel like they’re going to get rid of somebody. Nobody knows what is going to happen to “The Real.” They put her on, from what we were told, was because they wanted another voice. I agree with that. I like the different voice. I like what she brings. She brings something different. And it shows that not all Black women are alike. And that’s what we need. So for Amanda, it’s nothing but a learning curve and she’ll learn. I talk to her off line and I told her, ‘Look at yourself on tv, see how people are receiving you.’ But we all have went through it. This is just her period of going through it. And she has a right to be on that show.
The one thing I will tell her and I’ma put it on here so y’all write it out, is stop listening to what everybody else is saying and stay true to who you are. And that’s what she’s doing.
When you saw what the lady did with Extra, that’s that reality show stuff. We not a reality show. That’s why I grabbed her hand because I’m like, I know what’s happening. And Amanda feels like she’s being attacked and she shouldn’t feel like she’s being attacked. That question should have never been asked. Sorry! It’s supposed to be a soft interview. She’s dealing with a lot. It’s about a learning curve. But let her enjoy it. Let us enjoy it while we can. Like I said, we all get along. And let her make her faces. If she don’t understand, let her make her faces. I was trending, I was happy. She called me and said, ‘This memes…’ I said, ‘What?’ I promise you when you’re booked and busy you like, ‘What?!’ I was like, ‘Girl, let them people have their fun.’
Deep down, we are talking about issues that no other show is talking about. We’re not gon’ be perfect. We’re going to make some mistakes. Let the people give their opinions. We have to let Amanda be Amanda. Let her be herself and she’s going to be fine.
I don’t know if you want to talk about this or not—but Cookie Hull recently did an interview with Comedy Hype and she made some claims that it was you who wrote an e-mail to get Tamar fired and you wanted to be the only ‘ghetto’ Black girl on the show. You addressed it a little bit on “The Real” but didn’t say her name. So I wanted to know what you thought about that.
I do have thoughts about that that I addressed in my book. But I will say this, anybody that knows me, knows that I will not describe myself as a ghetto girl. I wouldn’t describe Tamar Braxton as a ghetto girl. I might say that we believe in the power of being ourselves. But ghetto girl?! I would never do that. And also, there’s a lesson in this. When you try to help people, you have to watch who you help. I’ve never been against any Black woman. My fans know that. That’s the reason why I wrote this book. When you read the book, you will see. I’ve been trying to get the truth out for years. But here, we dealing with this reality show type [mentality]. I do address that in my book.
You said something that had the plus-size community…
You got the whole list.
Listen, MadameNoire– we write about all this stuff.
No, but I will give it MadameNoire because you guys are fair but go ahead.
Thank you. But something to the effect of there not being plus size icons.
Yes, I do want to talk about that because I did not talk about that in my book. When I said what I said. I said, ‘There are no plus size women that I know except for Ashley Graham of recent that are legends. Where’s our Naomi Campbell. They don’t put us on the covers of magazines. And that made a lot of plus size models mad. But I’m like, they’re not putting us on magazines. That last plus size woman I remember was—and I’ll probably get in trouble for this— was Mo’Nique. All I said was, ‘Where is our plus size legends?’ Because Black women been plus size for years. But they don’t give us a chance to be on the cover of magazines. Now, you might have your blog. You might have a couple of campaigns but I’m talking about where is the plus size Naomi Campbell for Black women. I’m not talking about Ashley, cuz ain’t Ashley White?
So that’s what I was talking about. And sometimes you have to—I can’t have conversations if I can’t continue them. So that’s why I shut it off because they don’t understand what I was trying to say. I’m trying to help them. Cuz what I’m trying to say is, there are beautiful plus size models out here. I know that because I’m about to run this Ashley Stewart campaign and I said, ‘Give me your plus-size models. Beautiful girls. But I only see them on Ashley Stewart. I don’t see them on the cover of Ebony. I don’t see them on the cover of Elle and Vogue. So you’re telling me everybody got to be a 00 or a 2 to be on the cover of a magazine? That’s what I meant.
But I understood what those sisters was doing. Because they were like, ‘We’re being ignored by you too.’ That was not the case. I totally understood what they were saying. I was not negating them and saying they wasn’t out there, I’m saying where is the legends. It’s basically to help them. And that’s what I’m trying to do with the platform.
Sometimes—and I’m not saying that they were doing it—but sometimes when you’re trying to make a name for yourself, you’ll latch on to anything that somebody say. So I let ‘em do it. If that’s going to help them to get up, okay, get up.
People were shook by the NDA—how you had James sign one. Why do you think that’s a smart personal branding practice and when did you introduce the concept of an NDA in your relationship?
I think an NDA (which is a non-disclose agreement) especially when you are a female that is making your way. And you meet somebody who is going to be in your life—it’s not about them. It’s about the people that are around them. And it’s not to question their friends’ character. But let me tell you something, when people need money, they do strange and odd things. And so an NDA is simply a way of protecting yourself. And that’s all it is. It’s not that you don’t trust the person. I trust James 100 percent but the point is, when people get upset or mad—and we’re talking about down the road—things happen. It’s no different than me having a prenup. I’m not married so I consider the NDA my prenup. People were surprised at that but, to kind of bring it back around, maybe if I would have had an NDA with some of my friends, you wouldn’t hear these lies that they’re telling you.
It was once we decided to go monogamous. And then I said, ‘You know what, I need to talk to you.’ It was just an honest, adult conversation. I know some people—celebrities— the minute somebody walk in they house, they’re like, ‘No, in order to do this…
Go down to Netflix. You can’t walk in the door without signing an NDA. And you may say, ‘You’re not a business.’ No, your life is your business. And it’s a lot of people that will make up stories and say certain things. So at least you have that to at least be some level of protection. Once we decided it was just going to be a relationship between he and I—and he was fine with signing it.
Lastly, tell me about your partnership with ESSENCE again this year. What was your experience like last year?
It was a phenomenal experience with ESSENCE. First of all, what Richelieu Dennis has done to make it Black-owned again is something we should all support. To be able to get Michelle Obama to come last year— to be honest, we were worried. Because Michelle was going to be during the music segment. We had a pre-meeting. I said, ‘You think them Black people going to sit down in between Mary J. Blige and H.E.R.? We gon put Michelle Obama for an hour?’ When I tell you, I was so proud of my people because they sat there and they listened. They listened and they got that knowledge. That would have only happened because of the wonderful women and Richelieu they knew that people needed that message at that time. It went so great for three nights.
It’s a lot of hard work. Sometimes you have to stretch. You have to maneuver and change some things but that’s what I do. I’ve been a stand up comic for 15 years. I love the audience. I love entertaining them. I love being able to hold them and then introduce the artist. So when they asked me again I was honored but this is even more important because this is the 50th year of ESSENCE the magazine. So they’ve extended it from three days to five days, one day for each decade. So it’s important that we get all the support that we need from people. They changed the name from ESSENCE Festival to ESSENCE Festival of Culture. In the day time, you have these wonderful events that talk about business, culture, and wellness. Then at night we party.
This is the only place that African Americans in this country are going to have a music festival that’s for us. And it’s important for us to support that. If you’ve never been to an HBCU, you don’t know what a homecoming is, that’s our homecoming the ESSENCE Festival of Culture.
So I’m happy to support it.
You don’t think ESSENCE will cancel the festival because of the Corona virus?
There are plans in place in case anything happens. But because July is so far away—They are monitoring it but I think we will be fine. We all know that it will be fine.