Kenya Moore Spills the Tea on Phaedra
Kenya Moore Spills the Tea on Phaedra
By Joshua Eferighe
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because reality TV is as close to reality as many of us are going to get for a while.
By Joshua Eferighe
Actress, producer, entrepreneur and reality TV star Kenya Moore has enjoyed success on The Real Housewives of Atlanta. She recently sat down with OZY’s CEO and co-founder on The Carlos Watson Show to talk about her journey. You can find some of the best cuts from the conversation below, and the full interview can be found on the show’s podcast feed.
Carlos Watson: What were you like as a teenager? Were you quiet? Were you loud? What were you like growing up?
Kenya Moore: Oh, no. I was a hell-raiser because I had such a difficult childhood. When I hit my teenage years, I acted out. So I was one of those teenagers that just, teenager from hell. Sneaking out of the house, stealing the family car to go places I wasn’t supposed to be going. You name it, I did it. The one thing, though, I never did was drugs and alcohol and cigarettes. I tried to smoke a cigarette once. It was horrible. I was like, “Yuck. Who wants this taste in their mouth? This is disgusting. This is not cool.”
And then, the other time, friends would be doing weed and stuff. I just never had that desire. So even though I was not obedient in one way, I never went off the deep end and like really crossed the line to do stuff that was illegal or drugs, things like that.
Watson: Say more, though, about your tough upbringing. Where did you grow up? You did not grow up in Atlanta.
Moore: I grew up in Detroit. I’m a Detroit native. Born and raised in Detroit. This is my second home. I do have family here, which is why I wanted to be here. I grew up in the ’70s to teenage parents that did not want to have a child at the time, and it was just very shameful. It’s hard to imagine that with all of the people now that have kids out of wedlock and it’s just like, “Oh, this is my baby daddy.” That term was born because of all of the people that were having children and not being married. So “baby daddy” and “baby mother” exist now.
But in my day, 50 years ago, it was so shameful to have a child out of wedlock. And so for that, I just think that, well, my mother made a decision that to acknowledge the fact that she had a child … and then it just got really, in another way, very sad. My upbringing and my treatment was just not very humane. And I struggled through a lot even in my adult years to be even just remotely acknowledged by my mother, and it just never happened for me.
Watson: I don’t even want to say, but was your grandmother able to give you some of that love that maybe your mom wasn’t in a position yet to give you?
Moore: Absolutely. Yes, 100 percent. She’s just my angel. I mean, she was my angel. She’s the only mother that I ever knew, and she was an incredible woman and I just lost her in 2017.
From Miss USA to Actress
Watson: What do you think would have happened to you if you had not been named Miss USA? I mean, I’m assuming that that was a big break and that that created a lot of additional opportunities. But if you play that sliding-doors game for a second, what would have happened to you if you had not been selected?
Moore: Well, I had been modeling before that, just locally in Detroit, and then I started to get some large national campaigns. So I probably would have just modeled and then just to see where that would have led me. I had gone to college. I wanted to be a child psychologist. I don’t know if that would have panned out or not. I think I had to make a hard decision between psychology and performing arts, which I think all of this is anyway. I think being onstage, whether it’s television or reality, or whether it’s movies, or a play, dance, I just think it’s all a performing arts situation. So half of my heart is most definitely fulfilled in that area.
Watson: Interesting. So do you see yourself as an actress, as someone whether you call it reality TV or not, do you think of what you’re asked to do is to be an outstanding actress?
Moore: Well, I acted. After my reign was over from Miss USA, I acted in Hollywood for over 25 years. I mean, I’ve been on shows with huge celebrities, your Angela Bassetts, I don’t know, your LL Cool J’s, TV shows, your Loretta Devines. I mean, a lot of huge actors that I tremendously respect, and some that I’ve hired as a producer. So, for me, it’s just, that was my path, and when it comes to reality, I think, yeah, you do make situations bigger than they are. You’re not acting, because it’s not a scripted show, but you certainly are put in situations that are not organic. You’re not going to go on a trip with people that you don’t like, you know what I mean, every year?
Tea on Phaedra
Watson: So do you really, truly not like [former co-star] Phaedra [Parks]?
Moore: Phaedra hasn’t been on our show for, is it three or four seasons now? I mean, yeah, it’s been awhile. And, listen, for me, time forgives and heals all wounds. I think when things don’t happen, sometimes it’s just born from being hurt, and I think that those wounds can heal with anyone.
Watson: Tell me a little bit more about reality TV, because it’s interesting. When I think about it now, I think it’s been one of the most interesting business inventions of the last decade or two. I mean, I think they’re incredibly successful as TV franchises. I feel like they make each of you, and each of you make yourselves really significant stars even beyond that. I feel like all of you.
Moore: On our show?
Watson: Yeah. Oh, you think Atlanta is particularly distinctive?
Moore: Yeah, because the Real Housewives franchise I believe made stars. If you think of other franchises, they came after. They’re like facsimiles of our show, even the formatting, the casting, all women as the cast of the show, having reunions. They’re all facsimiles of Real Housewives, and in that broad series, whether it’s New York or whether it’s OC or whether it’s Atlanta, we’ve had the ability to showcase our businesses because we are Housewives, and I don’t think any other show did that before us. And you have millionaires being born from being on our shows. You have Bethenny Frankel, who became a millionaire overnight. I think she made something like a $70 million deal and ended up on the cover of Forbes from Real Housewives of New York.
So with that being said, it’s an amazing platform if you have a successful business to launch, promote, manage, grow. And I think that I fit in, seeing that I’ve launched a multimillion-dollar brand from this show. Kenya Moore Haircare is in over 2,200 stores. We’re expanding to Walmart next year, and another huge retailer. And that’s all within three years of me launching the brand.