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Coping with the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t the only thing that Black Ink Crew: Chicago’s Ryan Henry has been dealing with this past year. Outside of being a businessman who was trying to keep his tattoo shop afloat during economically turbulent times, one of his closest friendships was crumbling for the world to see. His best friend Anthony Lindsey revealed on social media that Henry had slept with the mother of his children while he was battling cancer. The public shame and embarrassment didn’t keep Henry from holding his head high and addressing this issue and this season we will see him and Lindsey continue to hash out their issues.

The past six seasons on reality television have been chaotic and somehow Henry has stayed put. MADAMENOIRE caught up with Henry to speak out Black Ink Crew: Chicago‘s upcoming season, where he and Lindsey stand, being in therapy and why his love life is on hold.

MADAMENOIRE: Tell me how is season seven different from the previous seasons?

Ryan Henry: As cliche as it might sound this is probably our realist season yet. We are we coming into this with a completely different production team that allowed for us to really express ourselves and show you who we are for the things that we’ve gone through. And like I said, we just went through some real times you know, so being able to show how we are what we are what we’ve come to and through you know, maybe that’s gonna be something that you know, the people really don’t be able to relate to.

MN: Yeah, it seems like this season it’s a lot of like loss a lot of loss just but not just only in depth. Like you know, I know Charmaine Lewis you know, her parents and then just like the loss of relationships as I once knew it.

RH:  Yeah, I mean, and that happens like I said, when you coming out of that pandemic and and you know, starting anew and then you know, the people that you know, have worked in sales, we worked ourselves and ways of what we’ve gone through and the hardships with a lot of healing and growth and that the healing and then that growth you know, I mean, it doesn’t always mean reconciliation or continuing with you, you know what you’re used to so you know, sometimes that healing is like, Hey, you know, you change your energies around you and it might not be the same for what for what you did.

MN: With filming your film during some of the most vulnerable moments, you know, we all see it and as I can tell, that’s very taxing on you’re very exhausting, what keeps you going and like keeps you going with reality TV?

RH: I feel like outside of knowing that you can step away anytime. When you create a platform where you know, you expand and grow on a platform that has shown outside of just entertainment that you know, the real view and the real of what you display that people around the world relate to it genuinely and you know, they aspire behind it, you know, it gives them give them like some good and Gowda to move forward and some of the things they might not have been able to do until they saw you do it first you know a knowing that many of these things help people and they give people that that inspiration to take on some of the things that you’ve proven that you’ve taken on first at the end it gives them a way to take it all off so I think that’s probably the number one reason why it allows us to continue.

MN: Have you ever thought about stepping away from the show?

RH: Many many many times.

MN: It seems like a lot. I don’t know how you all do it because it’s like with reality stars you all choose to be on reality TV and become this public figure but it’s like privacy becomes a luxury when it is such a basic need. 

RH: I mean in some realms, you know, a lot of the a lot of these reality stars they put themselves in these realms just to chase the fame or just the taste the notoriety. A lot of them are in there to actually handle business a lot of them aren’t there to actually become friends and grow with people. I was blessed to be able to be found and not go search for an audition. Mine was found because of the hard work that I would put in and it allowed for me to create a shop and a team of people that that we had going already in it. It seemed interesting to the world and to be able to display many other things through that on a platform like reality TV when so many, so much of it is only done just for entertainment only done just for notoriety. You know, it makes it easier to just be ourselves and be real and we’re not there for the purpose of putting yourself in a position to be subjected to start just because you want to be famous or want to be known. And that’s a that’s a big stigma and, and a fact and reality TV so like there’s a blessing to be in it for the businesses. For the ingenuity, as opposed to, you know, trying to be in it to serve another purpose.

MN: So I know you’re in therapy. What made you start going?

RH: I mean, for me therapy was and always has been a way to start tackling some of the things that were the factors for why I had different things going on in my life. I mean, everybody’s got something going on, everybody’s got problems, everybody’s got some issues and, you know, we, as Black men, as Black people, people from our environments and communities, we are taught to man up  just take things off, as needed, but some of the things that we that we’ve gone through very traumatic and a very, very hard, so they put us so low that you might not be able to climb out from yourself. And, you know, being a responsible adult, you know, you should be looking to figure out ways of how to come out of that, or ways to correct that, and fix that. So you don’t, you know, put it off on other people or don’t continue to damage yourself. And in doing that, therapy has allowed for me and many of us be able to tap into those unresolved traumas.

MN: You are one of the most vulnerable, transparent people on the show and you’ve been open about your bouts of depressions and how it led to what happened between you and your friend Anthony on the show. How have you changed since being therapy?

RH: I mean, for me, it’s, it’s a long process, but in doing that  it’s allowed for me to become more honest with myself to be able to be more honest with everything that’s been going on. I’ve become more vulnerable, as the seasons have gone on, especially going into this season.

MN: So for this season, I saw like you and your friend Anthony on camera hashing out your issues. I was shocked when I saw that. I always thought that wasn’t gonna make it to the cameras. Was that your decision to bring that on to the show?

RH: Yeah, that was my decision given a situation that had happened a year ago. And then when it went to social media was about another two weeks from that. So in that time we had spoken and we were dealing with it. When it went through social media, it was it was by his choice. So, you know, but at that time, I didn’t owe it to people to explain from whereas he wanted to. So people only got it at one level. They only got it at a level of where they could accept it, you know, and a lot of those factors hit hard for people. I didn’t have to explain back then that I was more so working on myself. In doing that, you know, I wouldn’t be the man I’ve grown to be if I tried to come back on television, tell them my life and then go on about things and then try to bury something that was a major factor in it just because it was so long ago. Because the people who support me and the people that heard about it and see it, that’s all they’re going to know and that’s all they’re going to get. And if you run from it and act as if there’s something that’s not needed to be explained to the people who support you, you won’t have those people that support you. But taking the accountability and being able to address the things that haven’t been said or seen or you know, given truth to you know, me for me, this is easier now.  We had talked before, but he felt over the time where he wasn’t able to heal from that. We didn’t talk enough. So now with me being in the better places like Yo, I can sit you down and talk to you as a man that gives you closure and clarity on the things that you’re not clear on because you need to be clear. And for me to be fully clear, you know, I take my full accountability. It’s not beyond me to be man enough to tell you all of that again, what you won’t be able to do is be out there saying that I ran from it and I never thought to sit you down like a man and tell you at face value.

How real would it have been if I tried to just act like it never happened. And now I’m just all this whole new person without giving the backstory to it, you know?

MN: You’ve also been open about the ups and downs of your love life. How is your love life now? 

RH: For me right now it is on hold only because working on yourself is not a one day, one month, one year process, you know? I’m a person who always knew the things that were wrong with me so when it came time to start fixing them and taking accountability for them, it was easy to see and work on it but you know, they become stagnant and you have to work on them consistently. And you can’t be out here telling people along yield on bureau home you know, I have to show over time as a showing your actions I have to show in, you know your results and how you move and how people trust you again for what they believe. how people see you, I respect you and what you do over longevity.

VH1’s Black Ink Crew: Chicago premieres on Monday, October 4 at 8PM ET/PT.

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