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Loni Love

Source: Courtesy of Loni Love / Loni Love

Loni Love is a woman who wears many hats and has many jobs. The TV and radio host, comedian, actress, fashionista, and author is busy. So when we got on the phone to talk this week, I wasn’t sure what to expect. To my delight though, from the moment the line connected, you could hear the light, positive tone in her voice. When I shared how relieved I was by that, she said that as an interviewer herself (one of those many hats I mentioned), she gets how important it is for interviewees to be fully on board to talk, be attentive, and display some level of cheerfulness.

“We had on the show Lamar Odom the other day and girl, I was like ‘wheeeew [laughs],'” she says. “He wasn’t even looking in the camera. We on national TV and he was in a whole other space, so I get it.”

Love interviews people from all walks of life on her Emmy-winning daytime talk show The Real, but lately, she’s also had the chance to play hostess in the night. She’s the host of Little Women: Atlanta Unfiltered, the spinoff after-show that airs every Friday for Lifetime’s popular reality show Little Women: AtlantaShe questions the cast about major happenings that occur in new episodes, and they usually have a ball. But in the latest Unfiltered, Love crafted a tribute episode airing on Feb. 26 for late star Miss Minnie, killed in a car accident last year. It will be an emotional one, as the ladies look back on her life, and Minnie’s mother, Tammie Jackson, takes part to speak on memories of her daughter.

“We were able to talk with her and make her a part of it. She was a part of the series and we’re going to continue to try and make her a part,” Love says. “But definitely, for the tribute to her daughter, I had to get that right for her. People will see that and I hope that they celebrate along with us.”

Aside from the somber moments to come though, the show is certainly a good time and a great addition to Love’s roster of bag-acquiring duties. She spoke with us about her latest hosting gig, her hopes for The Real, which has filmed remotely since last year due to the pandemic, supporting Black women like Tessica “Gorilla Glue Girl” Brown and Tamar Braxton, and more. Check out what one of our favorite funny ladies had to say.

MadameNoire: It was certainly news to me to know that you are an executive producer for Little Women: Atlanta Unfiltered. And of course, you’re the host. When did you become a fan of the reality series?

Loni Love: You know, I’ve been a fan of Little Women since the beginning, and when they got Little Women: Atlanta I really became a fan. I love anything that is going to highlight and uplift women. That’s why I started my production company True Love, Incorporated. I wanted to start working with networks and do projects that uplift and inspire and encourage women and also entertain women. So the Little Women series, it’s done just that. I’m lucky to be able to work with Lifetime. We did a project, the Salt-N-Pepa after-show interview and that was a great thing. Then they said ‘Well, we have the Little Women coming back and they wanted to do an aftershow that would be more behind the scenes. Ask questions for the superfans and that’s what we’ve been doing.

As a fan of the show from the very beginning — I know you work with all of the ladies so you may not be able to answer this, but do you have a favorite personality from the cast you were partial to?

You know the thing is that, I’ve always watched the shows, but this season, Season 6, has really been a weird season because we dealt with the pandemic, then they had to stop production, then you had the racial injustice and they had to deal with that, and then we had the passing of Miss Minnie. The thing is, I’m the type of person, I fall in love every week with somebody different [laughs]. One day I’m loving the twins, next day it’s Ms. Juicy, then it was Miss Minnie, then it’s Monie. It just depends on the week! I like all of them for different reasons. Like Abira is our mother and she’s hustling and she’s got the story of that single woman hustling so much and she’s this great mother to four children. But also to be a little woman? Some of her kids are average size and some are little and she’s gotta deal with that. I just think that’s just fascinating. And to see her anchor that is great. And then you’ve got the hustle of Ms. Juicy. Then you have the passing of Miss Minnie and she was at the prime of her life. Then you have the twins. One wanna be a model, the other one wants to be a rapper, they don’t want to be together. It’s like, why don’t they want to be together? [laughs] So it’s a lot happening.

On a somber note, I know you mentioned Minnie’s passing. Having interviewed the women on the after-show and getting to know them, how has her death changed them and the dynamics of their group? There was a lot of drama, and that’s reality TV. But the passing of a cast member obviously impacts what people deem important versus petty.

What you’re going to see in the episodes is that they’re never going to get over the loss of Miss Minnie. There was some drama but it gets settled between even like Ms. Tammie and Ms. Juicy. So the viewers get to see all of that. Death changes us all. It makes us all realize that the things we were probably upset about with a person, it doesn’t even matter anymore. That’s what you’re going to see in the episodes. The thing about the episodes, the Unfiltered, I wanted to give a proper tribute to Miss Minnie. I wanted to make sure we celebrated her life and understood who she was. I wanted to celebrate and uplift, and that’s the way we made it. I wish we could have had her longer, but the time that we have had her, we get to see the beauty of her. So I was happy that I was able to produce that and show that and I hope the fans will appreciate what comes out of it.

How would you say Ms. Tammie is holding up?

Some days are good and some days are bad for her. We continue to pray for her and uplift her. That was her only child and it’s just so sad. But you will hear from her and she’s really highlighted in this episode. Black women are so strong. That’s what I wanted to make sure we got out of this whole episode is the strength, especially of the Black mother, and the love of the Black mother. You will see that.

Loni Love

Source: Courtesy of Loni Love / Loni Love

Speaking of the dynamics of a sisterhood, you’re an original host of The Real. I know you talked about how you would love to see Keke Palmer or Raven-Symoné as a co-host and that they could be great additions down the line. Do you see yourselves getting back to five women again and is that necessary to you?

I just want us to get back in a studio first [laughs].

I was gonna say that too! [laughs]

[laughs] I’m so sick of being in this box. I miss the audience, I miss being able to run around the table. You really don’t know what you miss until it’s not there. I’m grateful that we’re able to keep the show going remotely. That’s a blessing. But I first want to get us back into a studio and just get our audience back. As soon as we can get these numbers down and get everybody vaccinated and safe, let’s get back into a studio. Let’s celebrate. The whole purpose of The Real is to celebrate women and to show the beauty of different women. That’s the reason I say, I don’t care if it’s 10 people on the panel or just three or two. Let’s celebrate each other. This is a show that is dedicated to us, to women of color. I’m proud of this show, and as many women that we can fit, let’s make it happen. But first, we have to get into a studio.

Was the decision to be at home because people didn’t want to do testing often?

The thing is that because of the way our system is set up, we were going to be shut down. Every November, the whole studio gets sick because of flu season. So when we were deciding whether to come back we’re like, “Well do we really want to have to deal with that and end up shutting down the show or somebody gets sick?” My old a–, I don’t know what might happen because this COVID just might stick to me and take me out [laughs]. So it was just safer to keep everyone at home. We still have to get tested because some people have their makeup done with artists so they still need some type of testing. But just overall, it was safer for us all to be at home. And it was a good decision because we have not missed not one day. We may have to deal with some technical issues but it was the right decision to make.

I know Tamar [Braxton] was recently saying she felt like it was actually WEtv responsible for her not coming back to The Real. I know years ago a lot of blame for her firing was directed at the hosts, especially you. Having her come out and say that wasn’t the case in the end, how do you feel about that?

Well, I don’t really want to trigger her. I do want to say that I just hope she takes care of her mental and I also believe that the truth always comes out. I always felt that and I always knew that. She knows that I love her no matter what. She’s always our sister and she knows me. But I don’t really want to trigger her. I just wish her the best.

I also wanted to ask you, I know you said you wanted to provide a customized wig for Tessica Brown. She’s the individual people refer to as Gorilla Glue Girl. In a time when so many were being pretty harsh in jokes and ridiculing her for putting the Gorilla Glue in her hair, why was it important for you to try and offer her support in this way?

Because she’s a Black woman. I can remember when I used to use hair bond on my hair. When I was in college [laughs] I used to bond them pieces. We do use glue. We use glue for our eyelashes. Some people still bond their hair. She was a sister and at one point, the memes were funny. When you first read the headline you’re like, “Gorilla Glue? What!?” But then once it started getting serious and she said she couldn’t get it out, I could relate to that fear. I’m glad it worked out. I know that no matter what, there was going to be damage to her hair. I have a wonderful wigmaker. We’ve been in contact with her and her wig will be on the way. So we gave her a choice of a handmade wig. We need to get the details, like the size of her head and things like that, and we’ll be sending it to her. This is the right thing to do. People can say whatever they want. We had her come on the show as well. That’s another reason why it’s nice to have a show like The Real where she can be with people she can trust that will listen to her story, ask the right questions. And then we had the doctor. The doctor came on and he was dressed up. I said “Hey doctor! Doctor Obeng!” His bowtie on!

When you think about it, it was a great moment. This was a brother that was a chemist and he was able to figure it out. Even the Gorilla Glue people wasn’t trying to help her out. They said “We put a label on there.” But wait a minute, ain’t y’all gonna at least try and help her? Somebody had to. So I’m glad that the brother helped her out. I said we gon’ get you a wig so when you want to change up your look, here’s a custom wig for you. And I’m happy to do that. Was very happy.

Something I always wanted to ask you because I don’t know if anyone ever approached you or if you didn’t want to speak about it, but there was recently a lot of drama surrounding the work environment at The Ellen DeGeneres Show. I know years ago you were the DJ, and you were a big player on the show. I wanted to know what your own experience was among the people who worked there. I know you and Ellen are close.

The thing people have to know about a talk show, it’s a lot of things happening. There were a lot of things I wasn’t privy to. When you’re the guest DJ you go to your dressing room, you study what’s about to happen and then you just go out. So I don’t want to say it didn’t happen, I can just tell you how I was treated. I was treated well. I was welcomed there. That was one of my major first daytime talk show gigs. And I was excited to work with her, especially with her being a female comic. So I was surprised to hear it. But I can’t refute it because I can only go by what was happening to me. I just know when I was there I just saw a lot of hardworking people that were busy and they were just trying to make a show. It’s the same thing with our show. It’s a lot of things that happen that you’re not privy to because you’re trying to make a TV show. So there may be some things that’s happening. Hopefully, it gets corrected. That’s the thing. Call it out and let it be corrected. That’s what’s important. I think they’ve corrected it and she can go back to — because the thing about Ellen is that she’s helped a lot of people. I’ve seen her give to families that were down and out. One family lost their house to a fire, this was when I was on, and she got a sponsor to give them a house built from scratch. I was always like, wow. That’s why I always wanted to try and make The Real to be a show that could help people, especially when people are in need and dire straits. I learned a lot from her. I know that they’re working on their issues and their problems, and that’s a good thing.

I know you spoke of your production company, you’re doing Little Women: Atlanta Unfiltered and you had your memoir come out recently. What else do you have in the works in this new year?

I still have my radio show, Café Mocha Radio. We’re working on a show called Salute Her where we’re saluting different women in our community, our local communities, and nationwide and I’m really proud of that. That will be coming out in March. And the thing about Café Mocha, it’s one of those small weekend radio shows. We have Chaka Khan come in, we have Jazmine Sullivan and we talk and we play music. I’m really proud of that. People can look out for that. The Salute Her Awards, that’s coming in March. I’m trying to close some more deals working with these networks. I think people will be very surprised. Black creatives, this is a great time for us. It’s just finding the right home and making sure that we stay on brand. Of course, I’m also doing the no sugar challenge and making sure people stay healthy with me. And in the month of March, the new challenge will be move! Move in March! Every day, we’re gonna get our a–es up and do something [laughs]. So we’re going to keep trying to be positive, keep trying to stay healthy, and just keep doing it. So people just keep looking out for True Love incorporated.

Lifetime’s unscripted hit series Little Women: Atlanta is back every Friday night with new episodes Fridays at 9/8c followed by Little Women: Atlanta Unfiltered with host Loni Love, who is also the executive producer, only on Lifetime TV. 

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