With their hit reality show “Braxton Family Values” back on the air and the spotlight on her sisters these days, a lot of people have been wondering where Toni’s been. Constant rumors of sibling rivalry and family squabbles have the world tuning in each week to find out what’s really going on with the Braxtons.
Curious and determined to set the record straight, we sat down with Toni to talk about her bond with her sisters, her ex-husband, the cost of success and more. Read on while Toni Braxton sets the record straight.
ESSENCE.com: What do you think of the rumors that there’s a sibling rivalry between you and your sisters?
TONI BRAXTON: I’m a little disappointed about what’s on the blogs, and people thinking that I don’t want to help my sisters, or that I want to make them perpetual backup singers. People have to remember that this is a reality show and some things are done for entertainment. I love my family, I’ll do anything for them. It makes me not want to do reality show anymore because I wouldn’t want anyone to look at my family and me in a negative light.
ESSENCE.com: Why haven’t we seen you out and about promoting the show with your sisters?
TONI: Because I was sick. I don’t want to have to always tell people I’m sick because then they’ll relate it to Lupus. I had a terrible flu, but I still did ‘The Wendy Williams Show.’ After that I had to go to Russia. So that was the situation — I wasn’t feeling well.
ESSENCE.com: How are you and your sisters getting along?
TONI: My sisters, and me, we’re like peas and carrots, but I have to be honest, sometimes the stress of the show does cause feathers to ruffle. But I’ve been warned about reality shows — that these things happen. At the end of the day we do love each other. We may fuss and fight but five hours later we’re on the phone talking to. We probably talk everyday. If not, then every other day. I talk to Towanda and Tamar the most.
ESSENCE.com: The biggest rumor is that you and Tamar have the most issues?
TONI: I’ve been hearing that and it doesn’t make me feel good. I think some members of my family are more eager than others; I think Tamar, because she’s so talented, is like, ‘this is my moment, I have to make it happen, and however I have to make it happen.’ And I’m not mad at her for that. I think because she’s so talented she’s like, ‘when is it gonna be my moment?’
ESSENCE.com: So basically, there’s no sibling rivalry?
TONI: [Laughs] I’m the oldest so I can never have it. I do have height envy. I’m 5’1” and my sisters are giants so I do have height envy.
ESSENCE.com: You and Tamar’s husband Vince Herbert have parted ways. What happened?
TONI: I love Vince, he’s great, but I thought it was a conflict of interest. He manages everyone in my family. I do think Tamar was disappointed because it became this public thing, and people thought her husband wasn’t capable. Its nothing like that, Vince is great for other people, for me as a family member, way too much. There’s a little bit of truth to the idea that you shouldn’t mix business with family. You can’t separate when it’s family or business. If something goes wrong, I can call my manager and yell and cuss. I can’t do that to my brother-in-law, that’s not cool.
ESSENCE.com: On the first show you said you thought Tamar couldn’t handle success. What did you mean?
TONI: I do think success has changed some people. My sisters want to go the Ivy [restaurant in L.A.], and all those places with the paparazzi, whereas I’m like, ‘okay, I’ve done that. I don’t want to get dressed up to go eat.’ But I understand them because I was the same way when I first got into the business. I wanted to be seen, so I get that, because when you’re new in something you’re supposed to relish in it. But I don’t want to be out there anymore; I don’t people asking me about my health issues, about my kids. I choose not to be a public paparazzi girl on purpose.
ESSENCE.com: So what’s really going on with you and your ex-husband, Keri Lewis?
TONI: We’ve gone out on a few dates, I’m not gonna deny that. When you have kids with a person, and you really love a person, but you realize that being together is not an option right now. It makes it tough because our situation was solely monetary and it makes me feel shallow. We were in a family business, and when the family’s not working then there’s no other business. It got too challenging. We started to fuss and fight, and we were never that type of couple before. Our personalities were changing so we decided we had to change things — it wasn’t working. I felt terrible. In the end, we definitely still love each other, and we go on dates. He’s a great dad, a great friend, very sexy, we’re doing good. It’s difficult to talk about it though.
ESSENCE.com: We hear you’re playing in the snow, and dating a White guy.
TONI: I went on a few dates with a Caucasian guy, super nice, super cute, super sexy. [laughs] We’ve just been on a few dates, he’s not my man, we’re not gonna get married. I’m just trying something different. He’s yummy. Who knew vanilla tasted so good? I would definitely date another Caucasian guy. I think Matthew McConaughey is yummy. My ideal kinda guy, if I was really gonna go there even though he’s married, is Mark Wahlberg. To me he’s a little Black and White, the kinda guy who would understand if I pull my weave out. He wouldn’t say, ‘What a weave?’ I feel like he would understand my culture, that’s important to me.
ESSENCE.com: Would you ever get married again?
TONI: It’s not the first thing on my list. It’s not too bad being in my 40s and dating.
ESSENCE.com: You’re also taking acting lessons at the moment?
TONI: Yes I’m taking classes with [ESSENCE December cover girl] Tasha Smith. I have to be honest, because of my illness I’ve had to slow down with my performances so I’m doing shows here and there. The most shows I’ve done are three in a row, one time in a month. I haven’t toured consecutively in a long time, so I’m like, ‘you know what, I’m gonna have to come up with another plan, a new job.’ I have to try new things to keep my options open.
Log on to ESSENCE.com next week to read more of our interview with Toni Braxton.