Dutchess Lattimore said her experience being on Black Ink Crew was so dysfunctional that when she completed her contract and cut ties with the show in 2018, she realized it had taken a serious toll on her mental health.
During an interview with podcast Talk of the Town Unfiltered recently, the former reality star, tattoo artist, rapper (bet you didn’t know) and businesswoman said she realized that shows like Black Ink were meant to do harm to the people on it and the Black community at large.
“Reality TV is meant to diminish mental health not only for the people on the show but for the people that watch the show,” she said. “You really have to have a certain level of disdain not only for yourself but for Black people in general, to want to watch something that you keep seeing Black people, and they never come to a place of success. Every f–king episode is fight or f–k.”
She said that she began to notice that the series was going in another direction after Season 1, and that it became less about the craft of tattooing and the lives of those who do it, and more about portraying cast members in a negative light.
“When I started seeing they was playing with that, that’s when I was like, ‘Yeah, I don’t know. This sh-t ain’t for me,'” she said.
But she stayed for five seasons due to her contract and had issues with the production company behind the series, Big Fish Entertainment. She said going from Lillington, North Carolina to NYC to being on national television was stressful enough, but nothing was more stressful than the actions of production.
“I’ll tell you what drove me crazy more than that. What drove me crazy more than that was the group of white producers that was literally instigating ignorance and negativity trying to make you feel like you really are f–kin’ crazy,” she said.
“They are a group of racist white individuals that created a relationship with Viacom to further the propaganda of what I feel racism is in this country,” she said, going on to share an incident that crossed the line.
“The day I put Cease’s shoes out on the corner, on the street, do y’all know they called the f–king crazy house to come get me and told the lady to put me in a f–king straitjacket for cameras? But let me tell you how good God is. The lady that they sent in there to tell me that sh-t, I had just done a tattoo for her like a month ago,” she said. “An EMT worker. She told me what they was trying to do to me. She said, ‘Dutchess you got a back door?’ I said, ‘Yes, ma’am.’ She said, ‘I want you to go out this back door and get the f–k away from here as far as you can ’cause I’ll be damned if they gon’ make you look like this.'”
Drama with Big Fish (a company that recently lost its ability to produce shows with ViacomCBS after they got rid of footage of a police involved death of a Black man on their now defunct A&E series Live PD) as well as issues with co-stars and former fiancé Ceaser Emanuel, sent her on a tailspin once she finally cut ties with the series.
“When I left the show, I went through therapy,” she said. “It was necessary. I tried to kill myself seven times. I went through so much bullsh-t. I lost my grandma while I was on the show. I felt so f–ked up because I literally hadn’t gone home in damn near a year. These muthaf–kas was telling me I couldn’t go to my own grandma funeral ’cause I had to film, y’all. When they did that, that’s when I was like, y’all ain’t of God. I can’t do this sh-t. The devil is really in this and I can’t do it.”
Things have been great for Lattimore ever since her departure. She’s still successfully running her own tattoo shop in North Carolina, Pretty n Ink, and has even got into doing hip-hop music. Hit the flip to check out photos of the beauty, as well as to learn more about her journey.
During her time on Black Ink Crew, she was engaged to co-star Ceaser Emanuel. According to her, when producers tried to give her an ultimatum about going to her grandmother’s funeral, they also told Emanuel that if he went to support her, he would be penalized.
“They didn’t even let Cease go with me to the funeral,” she said. “That ni–a was like, ‘they telling me if I go, I’m a have to forfeit a check.’ I’m like, y’all can keep that f–king check. I’m going to see my grandma.”