TLC takes a closer look at the lives of some of Atlanta's most unique and revered preacher wives in its newest series, The Sisterhood. Tara, Domonique and Ivy are three women who simply love God but refuse to be judged and held to unfair standards because of their positions in the church. ESSENCE.com caught up with the ladies to get the scoop on how they really feel about putting their lives on reality TV, why they decided to be so open about their (sometimes troubled) marriages and their sex lives, and what fans will learn from them as First Ladies and women of God.
ESSENCE.com: As First Ladies, are you unfairly held to a higher standard?
TARA: Of course. As a First Lady, as a pastor, as a woman of God. All of those. One should exemplify a character in nature that is appropriate to the word of God. The scriptures tell us we are held accountable.
IVY: One of things I live by is "To whom much is given, much is required." So there is a lot of pressure when you have a large assignment or calling on your life. Although I had to grow in my two and half years of being a First Lady, you do start off feeling this immense pressure. People come up to you and say you can't do this and that. They also scrutinize over every little thing. You have this coming-to-Jesus moment with yourself and God, and you realize, I can't be held captive by this pressure. I've learned to walk and talk with integrity and be accountable to myself with what I do and what I say. But I'm not held captive by people's opinions and their judgment.
DOMONIQUE: On the ministry side, unlike Pastor Tara, it doesn't matter to me whether you have a church or you're in television ministry or you're witnessing out the back seat of your car. When we don't assume the totality of the calling we try to pick what roles we're going to play. From a people's standpoint, I love God, you love God. You can't go to the strip club, I can't go to the strip club. You can't sleep around, I can't sleep around. The same ordinance and the same word of God I'm living by, guess what boo-boo, you are too. We are all called to be children of God, so therefore the rules apply to all of us. We deal with baby-mama drama, bad marriages — some of us are on our second marriage — children out of wedlock. We deal with bankruptcies, drug addiction, bad children in and out of jail. We deal with it all. It's how do we deal with it as women of God that will set the standard and give young women and young people an example of how they can go through it.
ESSENCE.com: Tara, Ivy and Dominique, you all have children. Are you worried about how their lives will be affected by putting them on TV?
TARA: I'm not. I know that the position we put them in, meaning the scenes and things they are part of, are appropriate for them. I think that the audience will be able to appreciate what they see comes from my children.
IVY: My son is only 16 months old. Of course he's sheltered from understanding anything that goes on at this point. I am protective of him. But it's a different dynamic for me.
DOMONIQUE: I have grown children. From ages 27 to 4. It is my sincere conviction that my children won't go through anything else that no one else's kids haven't experienced. They are not exempt from it. A lot of times, church people hold their kids to a higher accountability than normal kids. But they are all children. They are all going to experience and be exposed to different things in their lives.
ESSENCE.com: Ivy, we're going to see you have a vibrant sex life, and you aren't ashamed. Domonique, we're going to see you have a dark past with drugs and more that comes back. And Tara, we're going to learn more about your Jewish roots. Tell us more about those storylines.
IVY: It's interesting. There are two reasons why we're open enough to talk about [sex]. One, I don't think that sex is talked about in a healthy way enough. That's why you have so many broken marriages. That's why you have so many children being born out of wedlock from the pulpit. You have all these issues because church folks don't want to talk about sex. Number one, I'm married. So I don't have any shame. I'm in a newlywed situation. We are faced with some very difficult situations as the season unfolds.
DOMONIQUE: They will be shocked to know I really don't care. [Laughs] I don't have a heaven or hell to put you in and you don't have one to put me in. The truth is the truth so help me God. If you love me, I love you. If you don't love me, I still love you. It doesn't matter to me.
TARA: I think most people will be shocked to know how attached I am to my Jewish roots — my Messiah and Hebrew roots. It's part of my life and my marriage. I think it's always intriguing to see how I've incorporated it in our day-to-day lives.
Will you be watching the first episode of TLC's "The Sisterhood' tonight at 9 p.m.?