Sunday, September 21, 2014

Exclusive Interview with Tameka J. Raymond (Atlanta Exes)

The Journey Of Letting Go And Giving Back

By Belinda Trotter-James

If you are a fan of the show Hollywood Exes, then you may have seen a familiar face from Atlanta Exes on the show. Tameka Raymond was initially asked to be a part of Hollywood Exes.  She declined to do the show because she didn't live in LA anymore. "I can't hang out with those girls. They are settled and established in LA", says Tameka. "I didn't want to come in and pretend I live in LA when I really don't. My life and children are set up here in Atlanta".   For a couple of years the producers, Vernan and Jeff were very determined to have her join their franchise one way or another. "They asked me if I would agree to be a part of an Atlanta cast.  They said, 'If we bring it to Atlanta, would you do it'? and I said,  "Absolutely".  Tameka signed on to do the show and the rest is history.

On the show the girls get to do fun and adventurous things. Tameka conquered one of her fears by getting in the water to swim with dolphins.  "That was really an awesome experience because I am scared of large breathing mammals", laughs Tameka.

Let's face it the only reason we get to peek into the lives of the wonderful cast of women on the show is because they are the 'exe' wives of very famous celebrities. Their private and public lives, whether it's good or bad are showcased in front of millions. This is the time when you need a very strong support group around you. Even the strongest person can mentally be paralyzed at the thought of not having a relationship with the person who you thought you would spend the rest of your life with.

The Hollywood Exes and Atlanta Exes franchise is a good thing because it will show all women who are traveling along the same journey that you can move forward. Just watch Tameka's story line to see how she moves forward with her life. "You have to maintain your identity and you have to know your purpose", advises Tameka.  "One thing I think we lose in marrying very popular, very wealthy or very dominant type of men is our identity.  We as women had big dreams and goals before marrying that man. We had dreams before people had their opinions. Therefore, I think if you just stay focused and think about what your destiny is, you will be alright without them. It will hurt and the hardest part is the emotional part of getting over a failed relationship. That's probably the hardest part, but once you realize that it's life and sometimes things just don't work out, you will have to pick up the pieces and keep moving. You really do."

Along with the emotional pain of trying to move forward you also have to physically start getting rid of stuff as well. We had a chance to peek into Tameka's closet on an episode of Atlanta Exes to see that she could not or did not want to get rid of anything. "I am a self proclaimed hoarder", admits Tameka.  "I keep a lot of stuff.  I have things from 20 years ago", she laughs. "I've got stuff from any time you can imagine however, it's going pretty well".  Actually at the time of this interview she was doing a photo shoot at her house to capture all her stuff on film to be sold online at   Fans will be delighted to know that they can have their own little piece of Tameka Raymond. It will be an e-commerce site where she will sell looks from the show.

I confided in Tameka that I went to Fashion Industries high school, but couldn't get into Fashion Institute college because I couldn't draw well enough to design clothes.  I knew we had something in common because she went to The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. I definitely wanted to know if this was the beginning of her career as a stylist. "Actually I wanted to be a buyer.  I did not desire to be a fashion designer", says Tameka. "I wanted to do merchandising and buying. My goal was to go all over the world and shop for department stores.  I wanted to be the type of person that selects and forecast trends".

 Hmmmm.... We discover that Tameka went to school for merchandising however, fate had something else in mind for Ms Raymond. While in school she would hang out, socialize and go to parties; it's what young girls do.  Some of the people she would see were from the music industry.  Everyone would admire the way she put her outfits together.  "They would say, 'Oh we love your style. You got flavor girl'.  Todd Russaw approached me about styling his groups Subway and 702," remembers Tameka.  Some of you may remember a girl group called 702 which was the area code of Las Vegas, Nevada their hometown. The girl group had a lot of style and always looked fabulous on the red carpet, during their performances and at events.  Now we know it was Tameka Raymond who was the genius behind the sexy yet classic looks.  "I started with the group who was signed to Michael Bivins at the time. I was asked to help style the group and create the looks. That began a long, long lasting career  for me", remembers Tameka.  Her long list of celebrity clients include Lauryn Hill, Toni Braxton, Usher, Patti LaBelle and Nas just to name a few.

Some celebrities  can be very picky and may or may not like some of the things their stylist selects for them to wear. Celebrities totally rely on their stylist to make them look good. I wanted to know which of  her clients took a chance wearing creative outfits.  "I think that Lauryn Hill and I were very creative together. We created a revolution of vintage denim and we did a lot bangle stacking", recalls Tameka. "Lauryn was the one that I was really able to do a lot with".

Tameka was so skilled at her craft that MTV, E! and Access Hollywood would ask her to do makeover shows.  "Harpers Bazaar would ask me what was my take on various award shows like the Emmys or my commentary on the Oscars in relation to fashion and fashion advice", says Tameka. "Sometimes I would just accompany clients who would appear on various networks to style them".   If you are reading this in hopes of getting tips for a styling career, Ms. Raymond is your girl.  Tameka advises, "They should learn as much as they can about fabrics, textures and which things are okay to put together.  One should also stay true to themselves and not always try to follow trends. I don't consider myself to be very trendy.  I do think it's important to stay current however, you don't always have to follow trends." Nowadays the trends are half shaved heads, black lipstick and jeggins.  If it does not look right on you, don't fall victim to the trends and follow Tameka's expert advice... "I think you should stay true to what is classic and what looks good other than what's the hottest trend".

Tameka's schedule is full with her career and being a mom however, she does take the time to mentor girls between the ages of 10 and 17. "I felt that as a mother who has all sons, I wanted to focused on the girls.  If I can straighten them out then the boys will follow", says Tameka.  "I think the boys do a lot to impress the girls and men do a lot to impress women. So, I feel if we clean up the girls and teach them class and poise without revealing all their body, it would help guide young ladies into becoming women."

Life is good even when it looks like things are tragic. Tameka has gone through a season that no mother wants to face and that's the loss of a child. Her son Kile, who was only 11 years old passed away in the tragic accident.  In honor of her son she started the Kile's World Foundation. "Kile was very artistic", remembers Tameka. "He was into performing arts, he loved to sing and dance, he did fine arts and graphics. He was smart and a computer genius. So I decided to do a performing arts camp every summer. This is our second summer because it's only been two years since Kile past and that's the focus for Kile's World."

As I looked at the foundation's site, there was a caricature of Kile with angel wings. It was perfect because on the site there is a photo with Tameka standing around a group of beautiful, happy faces of children who will benefit from Kile's World who may have never gotten a chance to explore the arts.  In Kile's World children can participate in fine arts, theater, dance and vocal classes. This is definitely needed because in some areas our  public school systems has failed our children in keeping arts in the schools. When children have something to do, they don't get in trouble with police or get shot for just being.  As humans we often question God as to why tragic things happen in order for good things to take place.  Kile was a very integral part of Tameka's world. They were very, very close like kindred spirits. Through Kile's World his spirit will live on in many children for years to come and Tameka has been blessed with a gift to help children tap into their artistic talent.  "I really just want to help other children who are interested in the arts and lead them in that direction", says Tameka.

In addition to Kile's World Tameka has a foundation in Oakland called 'The Oakland Natives Gives Back Foundation which started seven years ago with co founders Dr. Nyeisha Dewitt and Delicia Abdur-Rahim. Tameka and her friends are all from Oakland, California and they give away backpacks, bus passes and school supplies to children in need.  "We also give away shoes to the children in the underserved communities in Oakland", reveals Tameka.  "We do it every year as a back-to-school rally at City Hall in Oakland.  A lot of parents can't afford to buy shoes or get transportation for their kids to get to and from school. We furnish them with all of that".

 Tamika has been through a lot but she is not bitter and she is not scorned as a result it. On Atlanta Exes she is depicted as being an aggressive character, but it's television and the purpose of television is to entertain. As you can see, the people in the editing department do their jobs very well.  Tameka adds, "You want to show people that they have to see controversy and problems get resolved. It would be pretty monotonous watching us sitting around having lunch talking about our exes all day.  You have to see a little bit of drama, a little bit of tears and a wide range of emotions".

You can keep up with Tameka on Twitter own a piece of her at and visit Kile's World to see how your child can participate or give a donation at

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