The Charmaine you met on VH1’s Black Ink Crew Chicago 2015 is not Charmaine Bey today. Her spice is still there, but she’s changed since becoming a mother–or at least her life has.
She left the popular show in 2022, after having had to deal with many clashes with former friends and co-workers. She also left behind a career in radio at Chicago’s WGCI, and anything and anyone that didn’t serve her for the better. With the help of her husband Neek, she has moved west to Los Angeles with her family. These days, Charmaine’s focus is on her family, who just so happen to be one of the most entertaining broods on the Internet. “We’re the modern day Huxtables,” she boasts to ESSENCE.
She is a TV and radio personality and mother to adorable, lookalike daughters Charli and Nola. She’s found that among her one million Instagram followers, so many love to see her family of four. So she’s starting over in LA, focused on building the Bey family brand. Neek and her have started a podcast on relationships called Marriage or mirage, and she recently published a children’s book inspired by her daughters, called Nubians come in all shades. Because her girls are of a lighter complexion, with sandy reddish hair and colored eyes, she’s heard all sorts of “jokes” and comments about her kids. Some haven’t been the nicest. To address the comments, she wrote the book in order to encourage her daughters and all Black kids of different shades and features.
“My girls are obviously Black and I want them to appreciate their Blackness,” she says. “I want them to be proud of their Blackness and not feel like people are trying to be divisive,” she says.
ESSENCE chatted with Charmaine about how her new book came to life, this next chapter for her family, and how she’s managed to find joy in being a parent in the midst of losing both her mother and father.
ESSENCE Black Ink Crew Chicago. You’ve since left the series, and have devoted your time and effort to encouraging positive images of family members on social media. It is important to be different in your life and yourself.
Charmaine Bey It’s important for me to show not only just a positive Black family but to actually have one. You can show something and it not be what’s really going down. But it’s important for me to have a positive Black family because I’m sure many of us have grown up in situations that maybe weren’t so positive in the household. And when it comes to our generation and all generations, you have to make a change or it’s going to keep happening. Neek is a perfect example of what I was looking for in a man. My girls should be able to decide what they will accept from their father and a man. I’m glad Neek and I chose each other. What you see is what we exude in real life and it’s important to show that. I want people to see that it is possible.
How did you find yourself inspired to write your children’s book, Nubians come in all shades?
It was very distressing to see the comments about my children on the internet. You can choose for it to not be that serious but because of the way my kids look, people will ask if Neek is the daddy or say, “These kids look like Steph Curry. Where’s the paternity test?” I just think that’s beyond ignorant. Why is that necessary?
I see that’s going to be a thing when it comes to my children because of their eyes and hair color. We’re all Nubians no matter your skin color, your features, we are all Nubians and we come in all shades. Let’s be proud of that. Let’s focus on being Black and proud.
How do you deal with these types of criticisms and comments as someone who shares your most precious gift, your children?
It doesn’t make me feel happy. Because those are my children, it really bothers me. Even if you’re joking, questioning who the father is, I don’t like that. This bothers my soul. They are just like their father. I don’t want to consider taking my kids off the Internet or not showing them because I enjoy connecting with the people who love my family. That’s what I use social media for, to show you something you might enjoy when it comes to my kids. Rice Krispies Treats made by Nola Charli dressed up as a mop, and I made a funny video about it. There’s a lot of people who love and support my family. These are the things they would love. So I wouldn’t want to consider removing them from the Internet by any means. That’s why I wrote the book. Since this is a topic, let’s talk about it. This book is now in their hands. I read it to them every night and as they grow, I’m hoping they can combat whatever comments come their way if people are still Talking about this. “I’m a Nubian queen and what you’re saying is irrelevant. We’re all Black.”
How has being a mom to two girls changed your life?
It’s changed me for the better. But I think losing my mom and my dad, I think that’s really what changed me. My mom died when I was pregnant, and I felt a stronger connection to motherhood from that time on. My mom would always tell me, “You’re not going to understand how I feel until you’re a mom.” And there’s so many times where I’ve wanted to say, “I totally get it.” I think losing my mom is what really determined how I was going to be as a mother. I just want to set the best example for my children, but I also want them to be their true selves. Whatever they choose to do in life, I support them just as my mom supported me from Howard University to Black Ink twerking [Crew]! She supported me through every step.
With that in mind how have you learned to be a parent even though you are going through the loss of your parents. How do you manage grief while still being there for your daughters?
There’s different stages in mourning and having something in your face that reminds you of something you don’t have is really tough. It made me appreciate my life and my job so much more. Even my health! I’m It is really trying to do whatever I can to be here as long as I can and to be in my children’s lives. I don’t want to have the same issues and illnesses my parents had. I don’t want to miss any moments, because I really I miss my parents. I hate that they’re not here to see the things I’ve accomplished and where we are in life. They would have struggled to accept some of my choices, I’m not going to lie. I’m glad we didn’t have to have those conversations [laughs].
So what’s next? Since you left, it seems like you are focusing on promoting Bey’s family brand with the podcast and this book. Black Ink Crew And quitting radio in Chicago.
With resigning from my jobs in Chicago, my family and I moved to LA and we’re producing content that we’re hoping turns into TV shows, movies, etc. That’s the direction the Bey family is going. We have a production company, The Bey’s TV. We’re constantly having meetings to go the next level with our creativity. Our podcast is just starting. Marriage or mirageThis was two months ago. These videos have been viewed over 100,000 times. Over 20,000 subscribers have joined us. We are continuing to create great content for people and hope to translate it to TV. I’m hoping to come back to TV, whether I’m creating or producing behind the scenes or I’m in front of the camera hosting, that’s where I’m trying to go in my life. Neek and I, we’re constantly coming up with new ideas that our followers like, things they want to see. They love our family and miss me on TV so I’m trying to give them the best of both worlds [laughs]. I just want to level up in the game, that’s what it’s time for.
The podcast is only the beginning. We’re definitely in beginner stages when it comes to pushing our brand as husband and wife and as a family.
Amazon.com: Nubians come in all shades
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