Actress and mother Malinda Williams is ready to exhale, and she is doing it in a big way with her latest show "Exhale" on *Aspire TV. Many remember Malinda from the 'Bill Cosby Show' and 'Moesha', as well as her acting role as young Alicia in the film “The Wood” and her portrayal of 'Bird' in the TV spin-off of 'Soul Food.'
Switching to talk show format, Malinda joins a panel of successful African American women: former editor-in-chief of Essence Angela Burt-Murray, actress Erin Jackson, news anchor Rene Syler and Issa Rae, creator and star of the hit web series "The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl." The weekly show format will cover topics that black women truly care about, including; hair, beauty, style, wellness and sexuality. The women explore each topic with a panel of guests which creates the feeling of sitting in someone’s living room enjoying a very intimate conversation.
Mommynoire caught up with Malinda Williams to get the dish on Exhale, mommyhood, and why she wants to address topics that most black women don't talk about.
How did the opportunity to be a panelist on "Exhale" present itself?
It’s interesting because I was actually befriended by a young woman on Twitter who was aspiring to be a producer in television. She wanted advice. I feel like I’m in this space in life where I understand the power of giving back; I've gained enough experience and confidence to share with others. I know what it means coming up because when I was entering into this business people reached back to help me move forward. Long story short, we developed a mentor/mentee relationship and became personal champions to each other. Then one day she texted me about a new talk show series she was working on and that they we’re looking for their fifth panelist, an actress and could she give them my name. I was like, really God? I don’t believe in coincidences, so amazing how I was trying to help her and she helped me.
What dynamic do you bring to the group?
There are five panelists and we are all very different. People typically look at me and think Malinda Williams, “the actress”. Yes, I’m an actress but I’m also a mother and a woman with the same trials and tribulations as any other woman on the planet. There is a common thread that Black women share across the country, if not globally and it runs through the entire panel. We each bring our individual experiences; married, divorced or single. And I add my unique perspective.
What makes your perspective different?
What people come to understand is that celebrities are really just like us. They’re just doing their job in front of everyone. So when I’m interviewing a guest, for instance, I don’t do research like a journalist. My questions are based on me as a mother and actress. I interviewed Todd Bridges and I don’t think anyone has ever heard the information he’s given to me because my perspective is different than a journalist's. I relate to our guests as a performer and how they inspire me. And from there, we just have a conversation.
I love that you are addressing topics in the minds of black women today that are not often spoken of. Which topics do you think are least explored in our community?
The number one topic is health and wellness. As black women, things affect us disproportionately. There’s not a lot of data for African American women in general because we haven’t gone to the doctor the way we should. I had fibroids and it took a year to diagnose. I was very close to organ failure because it wasn’t on their radar. I later found out that my aunt had it as well and that it was something that ran in my family.
We have to have open conversations and have discussions with other women. Sometimes we think we don’t know anyone who has a situation because we don’t open the conversation.
How do you juggle mommyhood and career?
You know, I don’t know. You do what you have to do; your children are priority. I’ve made a decision in my career that my number one priority is my child. I’m not leaving the country for seven months to go on a project because I can’t get seven months back with my son. I’m a mother first and every mother makes arrangements and makes provision for the health and well-being of her children first. It does not feel like a a juggle. Parenthood naturally becomes part of your lifestyle. You juggle the other stuff into it.
How do you maitain a positive relationship with ex-husband and father of your son Mekhi Phifer?
You know how they say when you’re in relationship therapy and you’re having issues in a relationship to remember what it is that you love about that person? I think the same thing goes with someone you are no longer in relationship with. It was important to get past issues because what we have in common is greater than what we could ever fight or bicker about and that’s our child. We both have 100 percent love for our child because our son is 50 percent of me and 50 percentof his father. If there was a portion of [Mekhi] that I didn’t love, that is a reflection of a portion of my child that I didn’t love. I had to decide no matter who he is or what he does I can have 100 percent love for him because that’s how much I love my child. We can be healthy parents and do 100 percent of what we have to do for our son because it fosters an environment to be good friends and no longer about us.
Check your local listings for "Exhale" on Aspire TV, Thursdays at 8PM.
Aspire TV is a new network launched by former athlete and entrepreneur Magic Johnson.