One-On-One With Kym Whitley
With a new season of her reality show, Raising Whitley, debuting on OWN in January, upcoming film projects, including A Haunted House 2 and Anything is Possible, and a newly launched web series, It’s Kymplicated, comedian Kym Whitley is definitely keeping busy.
JET chatted with her about how motherhood has changed her life, what one career she would choose to have forever and her response to Kenan Thompson’s comment about Black women on Saturday Night Live. The fun and lively Kym did what she does best—keep it real.
JET: So can you tell us what’s in store for the second season of your reality show, Raising Whitley?
Kym Whitley: We are coming back with 10 new episodes in January. It used to be 30 minutes, but they’ve asked for it to be an hour now, so it’s a whole lot of work. But hopefully people see more content; they can still laugh and learn, so fans can be excited about that.
JET: Is there anything viewers will be surprised to see this season?
KW: I think fans are going to realize that I put the capital “F” in fool. I’ve lost my mind! If they thought I was silly before, now they’ll think I need to be on medication. There are a couple of surprises I don’t want to give away. So far, I know the first and second episodes are great. The first episode we have some celebrities, so I can tell you that. It’s just fun. They’ll see Joshua progressing, of course, still not potty trained. He’s going to be 7 years old when he’s potty trained (laughs).
JET: What has the reality TV experience been like for you?
KW: I’ve always been an open book. I have nothing to hide really. So showing the world who I am and how I live… it’s not bad. What you worry about is people passing judgment. I’ve always been like “whatever.” People try to live like who they’re not. People try to say, “celebrities are this and they’re neat and they have this and that.” I am sloppy, I am. No, I don’t have a cook and I ain’t got a maid. I don’t have a chauffeur. They say, “Kym needs those things.” But I’m regular. I have problems; I have issues.
The hardest thing is living your authentic life and having people in your house—extra people, cameras and lights. Also making sure that you’re putting out the right message and that you’re true. I am approachable, I love people and I deal with situations just like everyone else. They have a job. I have a job.
They’re like, “Well, Kym, let’s get you a car. We’re going to rent the Bentley for the season.” No, I’m going to be in my dirty, dusty, too small old Mercedes because that’s what I’m driving right now. This is what viewers are going to see. I make sure that if we’re going to say reality, that’s it. So it’s not hard; I’ve enjoyed it.
JET: What challenges have you come across regarding motherhood?
KW: Well one challenge is discipline. It’s a huge challenge. My mama used to hit us with a spoon or a switch. You know you can’t do that now. You have time out and take away, but he’s 2! What am I taking away really? His Ferrari? His pop-pop toy? So discipline is very difficult.
This is going to sound wrong, but does he have to eat three times a day? Cooking for my son is a challenge. I have to feed him right. He can’t eat French fries and candy every day. So now the challenge is how can I feed my child with nutrients? Back in the day we ate fresh; our parents cooked. Now, we’re starting to think things are fresh because they’re in a can, they’re in a box or they’re frozen. That’s not fresh. It’s difficult to get real fresh. I damn near have to grow vegetables and have a cow in the back!
JET: On the flip side, what would you say is the most rewarding?
KW: The most rewarding is to see a human being that you are building a foundation for and molding. It’s great to hear someone give you unconditional love like, “I love you, Mommy.” It’s almost narcissistic; it is a little creepy because you’re like, “It’s all about me. He loves me.” It is my peace. He is the reason I slow down. He makes me sit down and read a story to him. He could care less about my stand-up. He says, “Mommy, come play this toy with me. Mommy, come read this book. Now.” So he is what brings me back to reality. When we really say a sense of centering.., that’s what he does. Those are the joys of life; what life is really about—it’s not about the superficial stuff.
JET: Is it what you thought motherhood would be?
KW: What I thought motherhood would be, would be with a husband! That’s what I thought. Let’s start there. I thought motherhood came with a man (laughs)!
It is what everyone told me—the good and the bad. I didn’t know it was going to be this hard. Because a child depends on you for breath, to eat, to move. As a little bitty baby, if a pillow falls on them, they can’t get it off. That’s what makes it hard. They rely on you to live, to survive. You have to make sure you are giving them everything.
JET: Would you have more kids?
KW: I don’t want to curse you out right now (laughs). You know they say it’s easier with two. And I’ve always thought that, but I have to hurry up if I’m going to do it because I can’t wait until he’s 10. I would love for him [to have a sibling], because I grew up with brothers and I had cousins. All his friends are over 40! He’s going to know about stuff he shouldn’t know about at 7. So yes, I might have to get another baby or something. Absolutely.
JET: You’ve done a lot in your career, from voiceovers to scripted shows to reality to stand-up. If you could only choose one of those, what would it be?
KW: That is the hardest question ever! It’s hard because I love the instant gratification of an audience; I love that you can hear instant laughter. I would choose a talk show, one that I haven’t done, because then I get to talk to regular people. I get to be funny. I get to do voiceovers because I get to do commercials (laughs). Some kind of something that I can deal with everyday people and still be funny or voiceovers because you don’t have to dress up to go to work or put on make-up.
JET: Lastly, can you share your response to Kenan Thompson’s statement that Saturday Night Live doesn’t have Black women because the producers can’t find any who are ready?
KW: Let me tell you why there aren’t any Black women on SNL—because [producers] feel like they are not diverse enough. Because Maya Rudolph is Black, are we forgetting that, Kenan? Maya is Minnie Riperton’s daughter who is Black and her father is White; she is Black! She’s a light-skinned Black woman. She’s played Oprah, she’s played all kinds of people on the show. And she can switch and go back and forth—she can play a White woman, she can play a Black woman. The problem is society is not ready to see a Black woman play a White woman on TV. I think for Saturday Night Live they just use the best that they can. If I can get a Black man and I can get him to play a Black woman also, I kill two birds with one stone for my Black characters.
I look at Mad TV and Debra Wilson, who was a genius character actor. There is no way that Debra Wilson would not go on Saturday Night Live and kill it ’cause she was on Mad TV, killin’ the game! So my statement to that is, “Kenan shame on you and I’ma call your momma!” I know his mother. Kenan and I were on All That together on Nickelodeon; that’s where he started. So tell him that Kym Whitley said, “I’mma call your momma, shame on you.” I want him to hold the auditions and I’m going to line up a hundred Black women who are ready, you just don’t know them. I see them in stand-up clubs every day, with characters. Call Debra Wilson, she’s ready.
Want to keep up with Kym? Follow her on Twitter at @kymwhitley!