Seven episodes into Bravo’s “Southern Charm New Orleans,” Tamica Lee has emerged as the reality show’s unlikely drama queen.
Better known locally for her cool newsroom poise and charity work, in the show Lee's feisty catchphrases include “I speak truth!” and “I don’t apologize.”
It's too soon to say whether "Southern Charm New Orleans" will return next season, Bravo says. For now, as this season winds down with its last episode Sunday, Lee weighed in on everything from the state of her fame to the state of her marriage.
As a local news co-host, you were a public figure before “Southern Charm New Orleans” launched. Have peoples’ attitudes toward you changed after seeing the show?
Tamica Lee: People now know me personally — my friendship, marriage and parenting sides, not just my work and community involvement sides. Now that they’re in my personal life, the conversation isn’t, “Can you take a picture?” They want to sit down and ask, “How are you guys doing?” And it’s been different for my family when we go out places, because now people know (my husband) Barry, (my son) Hunter and (my daughter Raini).
You present an unvarnished front on the show — you get drunk, fight with your husband and start drama at parties. How do people take that?
Some people say, “I’m concerned about you now.” Some people are like, “You’re a boss bitch,” and it’s just because I’m showing them another side. I can’t be Positive Polly every day of my life. I might seem like a complete bitch for an entire episode, but that’s how I was feeling that week. I don’t have anything to hide. We’re all struggling, we aren’t perfect, and we all make mistakes — it’s about learning and growing from them.
Have any scenes been difficult for you to watch?
The last episode with my daughter (Raini), because I was yelling at her. Of course, we hugged it out, but that was hard for me to watch. And Raini watched with me. She actually laughed, and she said, “Mom, it’s so funny, because you haven’t been like that since that day.” I learned something. I haven’t yelled at this child since then. Raini is so sensitive; she doesn’t work well with yelling. My son does. It’s so interesting, as a parent, how you have to treat your children differently.
What questions do you encounter most often?
The biggest question is, did Barry know I couldn’t cook when he met me? And he’s like, “Of course I knew.” It wasn’t a big deal. People want to know about my marriage — we can weather any storm, and we’re fine. And people are like, “Is your job going to fire you because you’re so out there?” Yeah, no. (My employers) know this side — (and that if) Tamica is having a bad day, she might come at you a little sideways. That’s life.
Speaking of your job, what are you up to these days?
I’m with (WGNO’s) “News With a Twist” weekdays from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. I’m ambassador and cofounder of Son of a Saint (a mentorship program for fatherless boys), a coach for the New Orleans Saintsations — our season is starting now, which is fun — a wife and mother, and I decided to be an entrepreneur. I launched my lash line (last month).
Why did you decide to create a false eyelash line?
Because I’m on TV, I always say, “Throw a pair of lashes on — you’ll be fine! Lipstick and lashes.” So that was me always trying to find the right lash that I could wear over and over again. I collaborated with my makeup artist, Tracie Turner of Face by Trace. I wear these on air every day and when I go out. They’re faux mink, so it’s like real hair. You can wash and re-wear them, and they don’t lose their style or the hair.
Sounds like you’re still juggling a lot. How do you balance it all?
I have a lot of help — my mother-in-law, my mom, my friends. Barry is amazing. I don’t do it all by myself. I have help, and it makes it better. That’s all it is: communication, communication, communication. It makes life easier.
I’m like everybody else. The struggle is real every day. I’m trying to figure out how to be the best parent, wife and friend — and sometimes I’m not the best, but that’s OK. I’m not coldhearted or soulless, and it’s fine if you think that. The biggest thing is learning through my experiences how to be a better person and be all the things I want to be.