Daphne Wayans’ presence in the spotlight is a conscious choice the ex-wife of Keenen Ivory Wayans made after purposely spending her time not being famous. The smart and stylish Daphne, who has five children with Wayans, says that divorce did not stop her from going back to being Keenen’s friend, creating a healthy structure for their kids, or cultivating her personal growth and friendships. In fact, she’s been friends with Sheree Fletcher and Nicole Murphy for two decades. So it might appear that Daphne Wayans came out of nowhere to join the reality TV bandwagon, but she’s been herself all along, and now we get to see the woman who was just a girl when she met the Wayans family. Since finishing season 2 of VH1’s Hollywood Exes, Daphne spoke with MN about her journey and why she finally decided to join the reality show business.
Madame Noire: What was it like being married to Keenen Ivory Wayans?
Daphne Wayans: It was many things, but mostly a lot of love and a lot of fun. I was 16 when I met him, and didn’t start dating him until I was 18. I learned a lot from him being that I was very young. I had a lot of room to grow. We were together for about 13 or 14 years; 15 is an easy round number to say. By the time we got married, I had had almost all of our children. I like to include all of those years because we were creating a family.
MN: Why did you two decide to split after five children?
DW: There’s not any one reason why we decided. When I do these interviews people go, “what happened?,” as if I’m going to say, “he kicked me.” So, I don’t like to call it a split or divorce because we were still together in so many ways. It was more of a shift, a change in structure. We live five houses from each other. We still operate as a family. We’re not husband and wife for sure, but we’re definitely parents to our children. I think I can speak for him to say, it’s our greatest creation in our lives. So you don’t separate so easy. In the legal world, the paper seals the deal, but in the real world, there’s still a lot there. A marriage is may be one quarter business and three quarters your heart, your emotion, and your life.
MN: How was it for you being a single mother after the divorce?
DW: Well, I would say that from a technical standpoint, I am a single mother. I’m not married to the father of my children and we don’t live in the same house. I tell people all the time, don’t let me be the symbol of your divorce because people would be wanting to get divorced. I mean he has them one week and I have them the next. My children like it very well because they are very clear on who brings what. Oftentimes, you get this immersion of parents, and I don’t mean to say that that’s bad, but it’s more clear now. There’s times that we have to come together and make a decision as a family. It’s made us have mutual regard for each other, and I see that the roles exist for a reason.
MN: Why do you want to join reality TV as a Hollywood Ex?
DW: The producers and some of the other stars are very old friends of mine. Sheree and Nicole are very old friends, a couple of decades old. This show piqued my interest because my friends were involved, and I was a part of the original pitching cast, so I pitched the show to all of the original networks with them. I had been asked so often to write about my experience and my journey, from divorce to now. So I thought I could share that, my experiences, broadly. If I can change any viewpoints or perspectives that would be good because people go into this cruel, nasty beingness of being a divorcee. I know that people are doing the best they can, but my thing is, what did you guys start as? You were friends? Go back to being friends.