Exclusive: Surviving Reality With Tina Campbell

Tina Campbell has always lived out loud and praised God and, to borrow the words of most Christians, “given God the glory” for her career, life and children. Then, everything came to an abrupt halt when the Grammy winner and mother of five discovered that her husband cheated on her with a family friend. The original interview was my cover story for the May 2013 issue of Ebony magazine and launched an exciting to some, yet bitter to many season of the “Mary Mary” reality show.

Since then, more infidelity secrets were exposed, Tina’s father passed away, vows were renewed and the Campbells have been working on their love, marriage and faith. The journey was recorded in Tina’s prayer journal, which was recently turned into the book “I Need A Day to Pray” and published by her new company GeeTee Creative.

Like her sister, Erica Campbell, Tina is now a solo artist with a new album, titled “It’s Personal”. Her latest offering features the hit song “Love, Love, Love,” where she is accompanied by Stevie Wonder. She’s currently on tour with her husband, Teddy, to promote the album and the book. Meanwhile, the reality show cameras are still rolling.

In this JET interview, Mrs. Tina gets candid about the past and the present.

JET: When we had our last sit down, we were in an L.A. breakfast spot, noshing on waffles and coffee when you suddenly said you found out that Teddy was cheating. Now you’re renewed in faith, marriage and career when many others would throw in the towel. How did you get here?

Tina Campbell: Girl, that was a mess I was in. But you can’t figure Jesus out. My life ain’t nothing but the orchestration of Jesus.  I had no idea I was writing a prayer book when I was writing a prayer to God to be free. When all these songs were coming to me, I wasn’t going to be solo. I wasn’t trying to do an album, but I just kind of went with it and stopped resisting it. I’d wake up in the middle of the night and had a head full of songs. He’s given me a book, an album and a charge to do things creatively together with my husband. He turned our creative movement of grace into a tour called “An Evening with Tina Campbell”… [In terms of forgiveness,] some people move on but they don’t really let go. God had us let go of everything we were [in order] to be everything we could be.

JET: So your show is kind of a tutorial on forgiveness, right?

Tina Campbell: All we’re doing is literally showing people what the process of forgiveness looks like — not just in marriage but in everything in our life.

JET: What’s it like being solo? Easier? More time for yourself?

Tina Campbell:  Oh girl I had way more time when I was with Erica. Of course, I’m gonna be honest. I spent a lot of my time wasting my time before. When it was me and Erica it was Mary Mary, and yes we were very involved in our affairs but they ran it. This time? I run it all. It’s by choice mainly because we made a lot of mistakes in the past with management choices and administration choices and letting people handle our affairs. Now, I don’t have any [other] agenda. I’m not going to use what saved my life as an agenda to make more money. It takes a tremendous amount of time to be your own manager and promoter and your own facilitator and writing out all the new contracts. Now I’m at the helm of all things me.

JET: Your journey could save lives. Tell me about how you came out of depression and suicidal thoughts.

Tina Campbell:  I contemplated killing myself and other people, regularly. The motivation for me to stay here was my kids. I had a plan, but it hurt me to hurt my kids. While I was struggling, God changed my mind. You think you’re weak and can’t go no more, but yes you can. Greater is he that is in thee than he that is in the world. I didn’t realize I had this great strong God inside of me who could carry me through. That’s why I gotta open up my mouth to tell people, “yes you are good enough and it will get better. The same God that saved me can change your life too.” So, as a mind thinks, so is he. Get your mind off the crazy. Here I am two years later with all this amazing stuff I wasn’t looking for. God gave me back my life better than it was before.

 JET: Will we see a season five of the Mary Mary show? If so, is all this on camera?

Tina Campbell: There has not been an official announcement of a season five. However, we are in the process of taping a season five. For me? I’m not what TV likes. TV likes drama and I have a very big personality, [and] I think TV likes that kind of person, but, they’re looking for fear and problems. I ain’t that. So it’s challenging for me at times. They’ve got to be creative when they’re taping my life and things. I’m contractually committed, yet I want to reflect my God even with these executives and behind the scenes people.  I’m not compromising my faith by no stretch of the imagination.

Adrienne Samuels Gibbs is a Chicago-based independent journalist. Follow her @adriennewrites.