In More Than A [Stereotype] HALIE asks celebrities questions they wouldn’t normally get to answer. More Than A [Stereotype] is not here to change your opinion of the our interviewees but perhaps get you thinking about them in a different way.
This month HALIE sits down with Crystal Renay Smith an entrepreneur and TV star who is also married to R&B superstar Ne-Yo.
We talk about the politics of race, gender and television.
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How would you define yourself?
A realist, what you see is what you get. A work in progress is exactly what I am. I’m not perfect but i’m also not horrible. I love me family, I love my husband, I love my children and my biggest passion is I just wanna feed the world! (Crystal is an excellent gourmet chef!)
I think that sense of you is what I got when I watched your show All About The Business. Now, I don’t like reality reality TV, I just don’t get it – but I really did enjoy that programme! I think it was because the underlying current was just one of love. You fought and argued with each other, but no matter what at the end of the day you were all friends.
Yet, in previous interviews you’ve also said you think reality TV is disrespectful to black women – can you elaborate on what you meant?
I absolutely feel that it’s disrespectful to African American women because they try to portray us in a way that makes us angry. it’s not that we’re angry, we’re put in situations where you provoke us. It really is the personality of ‘don’t play with me’ you know, but we also have so many other layers to ourselves and I don’t think it’s fair that they portray us in a way of just being angry. We’re angry just like the white woman is angry, just like the Brazilian woman is angry, just like any woman of any race. But we also are loving we also are cherishing and affectionate and giving, you know we’re all of these things just like any other woman so it’s not right.
That really does hurt me looking at American TV, in the UK black women aren’t really represented at all, but in the US they’re represented in a fetishised way and it really does grate on me. It goes back to that history of minstrel shows and black people being lazy, and disrespectful and violent…
…and it’s not true, it’s not true because every culture every race you have that type of person. it doesn’t mean that because they’re black or because they’re white or because they’re this that they’re that way/ No, that’s the same thing in every group and its unfair.
Absolutely, but following on from that.
Now you’re a new mother to an African American boy, how has this impacted the sort of roles you’re going to choose from now on and mindset?
For me, my mindset has completely changed. I don’t engage with altercations that I maybe would have before my son was born because they’re not worth it. I never want him to look up and see me acting as the ‘angry black woman’ that they try to portray because no matter what we instill in [our children] they still get outside influence. I want him to look at me and say i’m proud, ‘I wanna marry a woman like my mother’ and I also want to raise him to be a strong black man because that’s what he is. And to not take any shit, but not to give any shit you know to stand up for what’s right and to do right by people. To be a good man to the woman that he will marry, to his sister, to his brother, to his grandmother, to his father – to everyone. I wanna raise him for him to one day say “I’m proud of the man that my mother made me”.
Zooming in on your role as a mother slightly it seems to me the world doesn’t can’t equate that a woman can be sexy, be beautiful, be a mother and a successful entrepreneur (like Kim Kardashian for example) – why is this?
I don’t live by what the world says, I don’t live by society’s standards. I do what I want I have the support of my husband of my family – of everyone, so if I wanna walk around in a fishnet and still go and say I’m gonna cook this meal and I want that respect – as long as I have respect from my husband that’s what matters. i’m not going to be ashamed of my sexuality. I’m not going to be ashamed of the way that God made me, if he didn’t want me to look like this he wouldn’t have made me like this. So who are you to make me feel bad, because if you looked liked this, you may wanna show a little booty too. And I just feel it’s hurtful to us and damaging to us as women to put us down because we’re secure in who we are.
The new reality show you star in The Platinum Life is interesting yes because it follows women in the music industry but also because you’re all Women of Colour.
How do you think being a woman of Colour in the music industry is different in rising up the ranks and distinguishing yourselves from your partners?
It’s harder because we get the stigma of ‘we’re with them for the money’, it’s degrading and disrespectful because what a lot of people don’t know – before I met my husband and I wasn’t doing bad at all – he actually asked me to stop working. We get that stigma because we’re with someone that has money and then they see us and we have the bodies that we have, we look the way that we look and they think ‘Oh that’s just a groupie trying to come up’. But no honey he wouldn’t marry me and be with me if there wasn’t something about me that made him say ‘i wanna bring this woman before God and before my family and make her my wife, make her the mother of my children’. So I feel that we are due respect and we’re not gonna give it until we demand it and I’m that woman.
And with that quote, I’m going to leave it there.
It’s not often that you get to talk about deeper issues that impact women in the media’s critical eye. I hope More Than A [Stereotype] has shown you another side to Crystal Renay Smith. Crystal has thoughts and dreams we can all empathise with. Speaking with her for the short time we did was lovely and I wish her all the best in her future endeavours.
The Platinum life premiers Sunday 22nd October at 10pm on E!
This has been More Than A [STEREOTYPE] hit me up on social media with the hashtag #MoreThanA with your thoughts @halievocalist