* KYM WHITLEY. Personality. Actress. Comedienne. Entrepreneur. Producer. Mother.
Being a true veteran of show business, she’s been all over the circuit. However, what interested me the most was the Kym Whitley that we don’t know much about. And that is Whitley as a mother, a kid growing up and now, as a debuting personality on the OWN Network with her new (positive and comical) docu-series, “Raising Whitley.”
I have to say that while I’ve frequently enjoyed watching Kym Whitley in her television and movie roles like, Next Friday, The Nutty Professor, Along Came Polly (one of my personal favorites), Fun with Dick and Jane (another fav), 35 and Ticking, to name a few, I didn’t know much about her — that is, until I read about her new reality series. Before meeting her, on the 2013 Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage, I envisioned her to be a firecracker on the one hand and completely comical on the other. I was right!
My first observation of Ms. Whitley was watching her host the “Dating Game” on the cruise, alongside her good friend Miguel Nunez (Jawanna Man). She was relatable, funny, and engaging. Whitley took “the funny” to the proper point and then continued on with the event. She was fun to watch and easy to relate to, like a girlfriend.
Later that evening, she granted me an interview. The goal of my interview was to talk authentic living (from a Hollywood perspective) and her new television docu-series, “Raising Whitley”.
After laughing and exchanging pleasantries, I asked how she manages to live her truth in a place like Hollywood. She said, “having a strong foundation, number one. My parents raised us to live a good life, but never to feel like we’re better than anyone, and that this is just a job (like any other). In Hollywood you have to know that all things come from God.” She went on to say, “it is difficult though, because you see people driving this and that (referring expensive cars), and you think to yourself, yeah I want that Bentley, but I also want my son to go to college. You know?”
While Ms. Whitley mentioned that she grew up well off, her parents did not spoil them. She was gravely disappointed when she was gifted with driving lessons on her 16th birthday, instead of her highly anticipated new car. “I was shocked,” she said. Whitley admits that there certainly are times when she looks around at others and envies their life. However, she quickly snaps out of it and leans on her belief that you can’t live with envy as child of God. “Carrying envy makes life more difficult,” she says. Whitley began speaking my language when she mentioned her response to people suggesting that she is rich. “Rich is relevant,” she explains.
I was honored when she mentioned that this was the first interview where she’d shared so much of her lifestyle growing up.
True to form, I talked to Whitley about the LOAT (the Land of Authenticity & Truth) & the LOMB (the Land of Make Believe). “I’m supposed to do good for others, whether it is living in the LOAT so I can show others how to live in the LOAT, or something else,” she says. I was obviously overjoyed at Ms. Whitley’s shout out to the LOAT. We know that it is easy to assign general labels to what we perceive; however, the more difficult task is to stick with the truth as a basis for our next move.
In further response to the difficulty she finds in living true in her profession, Whitley says, ” for instance, I want a Ford Flex, but I also want a Range Rover. The problem is society and the pressure. People telling me I need to drive a Range Rover because of the lifestyle I lead. It’s been four months that I’ve been trying to make this decision. It is a challenge trying not to give in to pleasing other people.” I appreciated Whitley’s honesty and willingness to share the all too common struggle that we face here in these United States. While Kym Whitley admits that she’s not an avid church goer, she is fully aware that God has His hand on her and places her where she needs to be, when she needs to be there.
The challenging question is, to live true or not to live true?
When asked why she decided to do the show, “Raising Whitley”, this is what Whitley had to say. “If I can do something that brings laughter and teaches someone, I want to do it. I hope this show inspires and enlightens single women and gets rid of the stigma of adoption. I want adopted people to know they were chosen. And, I felt safe on OWN because they are a network that shares my goals of enlightening and inspiring.” She giggles and goes on to say that she hopes people support the show even they don’t see women fighting and glass breaking over people’s heads.
I have an incredible amount of respect for Ms. Oprah Winfrey. However, I have been a bit disappointed with the lack of new talent development on OWN. “Raising Whitley” is a refreshing departure that I am pleased to support.
Whitley believes that women, particularly Black women don’t know how to ask for help because we’ve always been expected to do it all. She has built the proverbial village to raise Joshua. She literally selected friends to sign a contract of responsibility for various areas of his life. What an amazing idea!! I was blown away and will be sending my village contracts shortly.
Just in case you haven’t heard about www.dontfeedme.org, it is Kym Whitley’s very serious answer to her son’s major food allergies. Kym and a friend created a shirt that says, “Don’t feed me.” The shirt has a list of allergies that you can check off for reference. The shirt has gone viral and now children around the globe are being protected from potential mishaps when they are away from their parents. Isn’t this a simple and fantastic solution to ensure that less health risks are created? Please visit www.dontfeedme.org to learn more.
Kym Whitley’s new docu-series will air on Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 10pm EST on OWN. At a minimum and for the sake of our TV future, we should give it a chance. I for one plan to set my DVR for the “Raising Whitley” premier season.
Whether it’s producing, or providing sidesplitting laughter or educating people on food allergies, you can count on Kym Whitley to truly hold her OWN.
Monica Cost is a Brand Strategist for Evidently Assured & the Live Your Truth Experience (L.Y.T.E.). She is the Author of the new life changing book on living an authentic life called, “The Things I Used to do to Sneeze!: How to live an authentic life with awesome sensations” (found at www.monicacost.com) Email her at: [email protected] Follow her via Twitter: @monicacost and Facebook.com/monicahairstoncost. www.monicacost.com. Live true!