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Summer Issue of Conversations Magazine

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Conversations with the Real Moms of TV

by Cyrus Webb

I, like many of you, have found that there are some reality televisions that I just can't seem to turn away from. Part of their popularity (I believe) is that they show us that no matter where you are from or what your economic status we all have problems and difficulties to contend with.

Over the years of hosting Conversations LIVE and publishing Conversations Magazine I have been able to share the stories of some of those individuals that we've gotten to know better because of reality television. In this issue thanks to Tara Thomas and the Tara Thomas Agency I am able to share the stories of some of the mothers of those stars. I think you will find their stories not just inspiring but motivating as we think about how to better live our own reality.

Known to many as one of the stars of Love & Hip Hop Atlanta and mother of music star Rasheeda, Ms. Shirleen aka Mama Shirleen has no problem speaking her mind. We chatted about the experience of not just being in the spotlight but what it's been like to share her life on camera for the world to see.

"It been a real good transition," she told me, saying that being on a reality show has been "easy and comfortable." "Everyday I run into people who want to share their stories about their boyfriends and husbands. It's really amazing." When talking about her relationship with Rasheeda, Mama Shirleen says it has a lot to do with their being able to respect each other. "I let Rasheeda do what she wanted to do in life," she says. "I let her play her life through, but I tried to teach her about respect. All the good things I taught her she remembered." Many focus on her exchanges with her son-in-law on the show, but Mama Shirleen says that was no act. "I was just being me. I was just being Rasheeda's mom and a mother-in-law. People are going to think what they want to think and feel what they want to feel. Everybody is not going to say and do the same thing. I've always been like that." When it comes to family, Mama Shirleen says there's one thing she knows. "In the back of your head you know there is one person you can always go to. Keep that relationship going. Keep the peace with somebody in your life."

***

When Platinum-selling recording artist Kandi joined the cast of The Real Housewives of Atlanta we were also introduced to her mother who we've gotten to know as Mama Joyce--and from the very beginning she has made her presence known. When I talked with her, however, about being a part of the show's success she seemed really matter-of-fact about it. "Kandi was coming on as a housewife," she told me,"and I was a mother, there to support her."

Not only was Mama Joyce a support for her daughter, she was not afraid to speak her mind. "I think for one thing I'm honest." she says. "I speak from my heart, and I don't sugarcoat anything. When the cameras are rolling I forget we are on TV. Nothing that you see is staged or rehearsed. It's all real. It's just me."

Being herself has definitely caused many to have their own perception of her, but Mama Joyce isn't phased by that. "What you see is me, whether you like me or you don't." At her core she is just a mother. "I love my children," she says. "I worked hard to give them the best, and I wanted the best for them. [Kandi] knows that I've always been there for her. A lot of people don't have that now. A lot of children are having children. I just try to be the best mother that I could be."

One of the things Mama Joyce shared with Kandi early on in her career is something we can all benefit from: "People only treat you different if you act different. I feel like I'm no better than anybody. We are here to help one another make it."

***

We've all heard the saying that behind every good man is a great woman, and for Hip Hop recording artist K. Camp that woman is his mother, affectionately known as Mama Camp. The week after her son's new album IN DUE TIME released I had a chance to talk with her not just about his success but how by being in his corner she helped to propel him forward.

"It's surreal," she told me. "It definitely puts dreams back into perspective. I put everything aside to get on board and support him, and I know that dreams do come true."

And when Mama Camp says she put "everything aside" she does mean EVERYTHING, becoming his biggest supporter and doing whatever was necessary to see that he was able to fulfill his potential. "It validates that this is real," she says. "I can't put into words the joy that I feel. I know that this is his passion. He told me he didn't want the fame. He just wanted the world to hear his music, but the fame has just come along with it." One of the lessons she instilled in K. Camp was that "what's meant for you is for you." This has led her to share with other parents the importance of encouraging their child in pursuing their own dreams and ambitions. "If your child has any type of passion for anything hop on board. You have to encourage them, and let them know that they can do anything. Anything is possible."

***

Music is something that has been a part of Dianne Pope's life for decades. As the wife of the late Charles Pope of the legendary group The Tams and mother of recording artist Tiny, she has lived her life in front of the cameras for quite some time.

Outside of her connection to music Mama Dianne has also become a vocal spokesperson for Alzheimer's Disease awareness. She talked with me this year about being recognized in 2013 for her commitment to supporting others and what it has been like for her since her husband passed away in 2013 of the disease.

We also discussed what it was like for her to grow up in China Grove, North Carolina and what it was like to be an interracial couple in Georgia during the sixties. "It made me strong," she told me during our conversation, and it is that strength that she has been able to pass on to her children and others. "I had a lot of support," she says, and that support is something she is now able to pass on. The work she is doing really helps us all to see the importance of using your individual platform for good. Mama Dianne is doing it, and through her example others can find the courage to do the same.

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