Holly Robinson Peete On New Show For Peete’s Sake And Raising Kids In Today’s Social Climate
Holly Robinson Peete became a household name in the ’90s due to her roles in 21 Jump Street and Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper, and although the actress’ hustle remains strong well into the new millennium, many have never seen what a day in the life of Robinson Peete is like, until now. Thanks to OWN, viewers will get to see just that in the new docu-series For Peete’s Sake giving viewers a peek inside how the actress and advocate has made her marriage with NFL retiree Rodney Peete last for more than 20 years, what it’s like to raise a son of color living with autism and the values she instills in her teen daughter.
We chatted with Robinson Peete about her newest TV endeavor ahead of its spring premiere. Check out what she had to say in our Q&A and be sure to watch For Peete’s Sake on March 19 at 9/8c on OWN.
MadameNoire (MN): What can you tell us about For Peete’s Sake?
Holly Robinson Peete (HRP): For about 10 years, we’ve been on the short list to do a show like this, but it was always all about timing and wanting to make sure the kids were ready and fully understood what it meant to be on TV in this capacity. It feels like the right time; timing is everything. Everyone is in a transitional period, right now. I just had a big milestone birthday and my husband is coming up on his big milestone. My mother is coming up on 80 and my daughter is applying to college. My son is getting a job and my middle child is being the middle child and my baby is my baby. It’s just a lot of transitioning going on in life and it feels like a good time to document it. And production-wise and network-wise, I just feel like all the pieces are right.
MN: How did your family’s experience on Wife Swap prepare you for your docu-series?
HRP: Wife Swap is more about comparing yourself to another family and drawing differences. For Peete’s Sake, it’s way more organic and authentic. Wife Swap was fun but you have to fit into a formula with that show. For Peete’s Sake, we were inventing our own formula. [For example,] I am a lot less structured in For Peete’s Sake than I was in Wife Swap.
MN: How have you rebranded yourself as a Black actress? And, do you think there is a lack of roles or content being created for Black women?
HRP: I think there is a lot of content right now! We have way more outlets than we had when I first started. We only had three networks and we were starting the fourth with 21 Jump Street on FOX. Today, we have cable, webisodes and there are so many more ways to get ourselves and our brands in front of consumers. The whole game has changed from when I started in the ’80s. I think where we are not seeing equity is in the celebration of what we do.
MN: What advice do you have for Black mothers raising black male children, especially those with special needs in a social climate where police brutality is prevalent?
HRP: I stay awake at night. I can’t relax as a mom of young Black boys. I just can’t ever relax. I worry about where they are; I worry about them getting singled out, wrong place, wrong time situation— with all three of my sons. But especially with my son with autism because he doesn’t always know how to navigate the social cues. We have drilled him and role played the situation. I say, “What would be the first thing to do?” and he [my son] would say “I would pull out my phone.” And I say, “Oh no!” We touch upon this in the show. I have a huge fear for any mom who has a boy of color in this funky climate. For those of us with special needs sons, we have that extra worry about if law enforcement [doesn’t] understand how to approach our sons, will they harm first and ask questions later? I thought of taking a proactive approach (at least in our neighborhood) where we took our sons to the local police department and introduced them [to the police officers]. As a special needs mom, you must advocate any way you can.
MN: Social media is so influential in how we view beauty standards, what conversations do you have with your daughter about her self-esteem and womanhood?
HPR: I constantly try to lift her self-esteem and tell her how beautiful she is. Ryan is a very natural girl. She has that kind of hippie flavor; she reminds me of a ’70s throwback type. But yet she does enjoy getting her hair and makeup done. But most of the time, [she wears] sweats, hair tied back. Most of the time I’m like “Can you put some lip gloss on?” She’s very, very bohemian. But she enjoys glamming it up. I always tell her to feel good about who she is. The best way I think I’ve been able to lift her self-esteem is by encouraging her to travel the world at a young age. And we’re blessed to be able to do that. But it’s very important for her to see other cultures and lift her CQ– cultural IQ.
MN: What have you learned from your mother that you’ve also instilled in your children?
HPR: [My mother has taught me to] be professional. Every time you do a project, the crew, the makeup, the hair, the [other] actors will all go on to other projects and [people will ask] “How was it working with such and such? Was she nice?” And my mom always used to tell me [that you] always want the crew to walk away and go, “Boy, she was fun to work with!” That’s what keeps you working in the business. Always be friendly and very affable and care about the crew because they are working longer hours for a lot less money. And [when you’re] working in this business you’ll see a lot of actors do themselves in [by behaving the opposite].
MN: You’ve been with your husband former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete for over 20 years, what makes a successful marriage, especially in the entertainment industry?
HPR: Scheduled “fun time.” You fill in the blank. [Laughs] You got to schedule “fun time” because if you don’t schedule fun, it ain’t going to happen. Whatever your fun is: play dates, hangouts, sex, whatever it is. And then [there is] same page love, that’s what I call it. You have to be on the same page because I know when Rodney and I are not on the same page, that’s when the conflict comes. Whether it’s a situation with the kids or an issue we are having with each other, we figure out how to get back on the same page. Rodney’s favorite thing to do is 20-second hugs—it sounds like a really stupid thing but instead of the little fake hugs you may do in passing, you have to hug each other for 20 full seconds. Sometimes you’ll be like, “I really want to let go at 10” but with 20, it takes you to another place of connection. And you let go of any little issues that you’re feeling. I feel like that works very well.
MN: What advice do you have for women who work with their husbands?
HPR: I don’t necessarily recommend it. I think you should have separate businesses or maybe do part-time work. The show was part-time for us and we only shot eight episodes. I liked it but I wouldn’t recommend it full time. Some people really make it work but I really like being a consultant for him and vice versa. We work better in moderation.
MN: Netflix recently debuted Fuller House, would you want there to be a reboot of Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper?
HPR: Yeah! Mr. Cooper’s (Mark Curry) daughter and my youngest son are in fifth grade together. So, I am still “hangin’ with Mr. Cooper,” 20 years later. I see him all the time and we are still great friends. We’ve been having this conversation for the last 10 years, so I would do it in a heartbeat.