LaShawn and April Daniels make their love, faith a reality on TV
Utter the words “reality TV star,” and it doesn't take long for the requisite eye rolling to begin. Rarely, if ever, are audiences exposed to a couple who wants to use their turn in the spotlight as a platform for positive imagery — especially where marriage is concerned.
But for breakout stars of the WE Channel's reality show, “Tamar and Vince,” LaShawn and April Daniels' salt-of-the-earth personalities and faith-based approach to a candidly honest marriage have captivated viewers who've dubbed them a modern-day “Fred and Ethel.”
No strangers to the entertainment biz, LaShawn is a Grammy Award-winning songwriter whose pen has produced multi-platinum songs like “It's Not Right (But It's OK)” by Whitney Houston, “The Boy Is Mine” by Monica & Brandy, “You Rock My World” by Michael Jackson and “Telephone” by Lady Gaga. April , a hair stylist and clothing designer, epitomizes the voice of reason for the feisty, headlining whirlwind known as Tamar and Vince, serving as soundboard and confidant.
Together, LaShawn and April's union has become one of atypical standards in an industry that, by its very, nature encourages a derailing of self, senseand sensibility. Their hope is that by putting forth a positive example, other couples come to understand that a “perfect marriage” is about growing together through the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Question: Talk to me about the realities of reality television, because it's very nature can open up a huge can of worms — do you ever regret signing up for this?
LaShawn: No, I don't think we do at all, because in this case of reality TV, it's exactly that — reality television. This is not something that we have to clean up or make something look good for TV. And I think that's how it can become a curse — when it's just so scripted and made up — (the stars) just run into problems.
Q: Do you watch the episodes as they air?
LaShawn: We do!
April: Well, we keep it on TiVo so we can always watch it. When you're actually recording it, it's a little different because sometimes we forget what we shot.
Q: Are there ever uncomfortable discussions following a viewing?
April: No, mostly not.
Q: Professional exposure is one thing. Are you ever uncomfortable with the fact that complete strangers are getting an unfiltered look at your personal lives?
April: No, not at all, and we both say this: The whole purpose in doing the show was to have fun and to really give light to some situations that couples go through that they think are the end of the world. Going into it, we knew what it was, and we were all on aboard, and we were hoping to give a positive light to relationships and how you can work through it when you think you can't. When (married) people are faced with problems, they think, “Where's the white picket fence? We're the only people going through this!” The important thing is that when you're faced with that moment, just get through it. Don't think it's the breaking point. And we only know this through experience. We found our rhythm, and we found what works for us. What used to be really heightened emotional disagreements (is) not the end of us.
Q: Does it make you more aware of your words and actions, or do you tend to forget the cameras are even there?
LaShawn: I think after awhile you don't see them anymore. But with us, they can be there or they can not. When you're creating a front, then you have to watch what you're saying or doing. But we're really just being who we are. Once you know that all women are crazy, you can really get through it.
April: It kills me that (men) never notice the crazy when they're dating.
Q: You've both been very open about the fact that keeping God first has been a top priority in your marriage. How are you able to maintain such a strong faith in an industry that, by its very nature, contradicts morals and values?
LaShawn: Well, I think the beautiful thing about it is the very fact that the industry does contradict (Christianity). But we are able to see the hand of God — a light in dark places (is) just a beautiful thing. We think about all the things we do wrong — but God never gives up on us. We apply it back to us. We're not perfect, but we've just got to love. Once love is the priority, you can get through anything. We're not running around trying to recruit you, but we're just letting our light shine. It's just sad to see some people, once they go through the whole reality phase, that a few months later they separated. But if people would just be honest and truthful in relationships, you have no idea of who you will be helping.