Claudette Ortiz Talks Music, Love & Money

Can’t get enough of the curly haired songstress from R&B Divas: LA?  JET caught up with R&B Divas star Claudette Ortiz and got her to dish about her controversial reality show, making moves in the business and more.

JET: You’ve been MIA in the industry for some time. How did you end up on R&B Divas?

CO: I received a call from one of the producers. I had offers before to be on TV and I didn’t want to expose my kids, but this opportunity was a little different. I was at a crossroad in my life, and I consulted with some friends and they suggested to see what the producers are talking about. When I saw the first season of the Atlanta show, I really liked it, and I continued to go forward with it. I had one demand. I told them that I couldn’t participate if I couldn’t bring my kids.

JET: How was it moving to LA?

CO: We filmed in Los Angeles, but we moved back after filming stopped. I’m getting my kids (ages 10, 8 and 5) back in school on the East Coast, but if we do another season, then I will have to move them again.  I really don’t want to shift them back and forth, but they know that this is mommy’s work.

JET: Many viewers commented on what a hard time you were experiencing while the show was filming. What was it like for you to watch it?

CO: When the show began taping, I was trying to rebuild my life. I went through a divorce and lost my home, and that was a really rough time for me. I also had to go to social services, and that was a true struggle. Also, I felt horrible that I couldn’t do simple things for my kids, like taking them to Chuck E. Cheese. I had to remind myself that my kids were healthy and beautiful, and that kept me from not losing hope.

JET: The show’s popularity surged due to the combustible relationships between the cast (Kelly Price, Dawn Lewis, Lil Mo, Miche’le and Chante Moore). What is your relationship like with each one?

CO: Before filming I didn’t know the ladies at all, so everything is based on my experience.When I met Kelly she was very sweet and I just wanted to hug her. She has always treated me well. I cannot judge her for the way she chooses to handle disputes, because everyone makes the best decision for them. I love Lil Mo, she makes me laugh so much and she is a great mother. Dawn is very sweet and soft spoken— and I never viewed her as weak. Miche’le is really deep, but she’s funny, too. Chante and I really connected! Physically, that woman’s body is crazy. TV doesn’t do her justice. Even her gums are beautiful! She has this huge personality and wisdom to share. That’s my heart.

JET: Most people expect the show to get picked up again since it was a ratings hit. You’ve commented on the show not capturing all of you. What would you like viewers to see in season two?

CO: Next season, I hope they capture my “bubbliness” and the happier side of me. I was just meeting all the ladies and now I know them. I want us to become closer next season.

JET: What opportunities are you exploring outside of the show now that you’re back on the scene?

CO: I have been approached by Broadway and some other exciting things, but they are all for 2014. I am entertaining all new offers. Because people are just catching wind of the show, things are flowing in a lot. I would like to do more endorsements that are health related. I love hair care as well. I also love cooking and I’ve been an executive chef in the past, so I’m open to opportunities related to that.

JET: You’re 32 now, but you signed your first contract as a teen. What have you learned about the business side of this industry?

CO: Regarding contracts, when I first signed my first one I was a minor and I put it in the hands of lawyers. Since then, I’ve learned an artist’s success is not based on their talent; it is truly based on the team that is behind you. You do what you do and they help you to get to the masses. People will rob you, so you need to trust your team.

JET: You also mixed business with pleasure. Your ex-husband, Ryan Toby, was a member of your group City High. How does your he feel about the show and your new found fame?

CO: He was supportive of the show in the beginning. I do not know how he feels about it now because the show has been edited and I am not sure if it offended him. He is a great dad and I would never want to take that away from him. We were together for 11 years.

JET: Well, you’re single, beautiful and successful. There’s only one question left—are you dating?

CO: I wish I could date — especially since I am over my divorce now.  I really want to connect with someone new. But I barely have any time because I’m busy being a single mother!