By RODNEY HO/ firstname.lastname@example.org, originally filed Thursday, June 16, 2016
Boutique owner Toya Wright has managed to make a mini-career out of reality television. She's been on BET's "Tiny & Toya" and "Toya: A Family Affair." Her daughter's party on MTV's"My Super Sweet 16" is one of the more memorable episodes.
Then she decided in 2015 to try to save her faltering marriage with producer Mickey "Memphitz" Wright by going on WE-TV's "Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars." Taped last year, the current season is airing now on Fridays at 9 p.m. The third episode aired last Friday.
The issues between her and Memphitz are hardly unusual. In his mind, she is too controlling and treats him like she's his mom. She believes he's a child and needs to be watched over due to his womanizing.
"He constantly blames me for everything that is going on in his life," she said on the show.
Wright said in my interview with her last week at the AJC that the show's relationship experts Jim and Elizabeth Carroll was helpful to her. She said they learned she needs to be more assertive about her own needs and not be such a people pleaser. "I don't always follow my heart," she said. "It starts with being real with yourself. I get caught up with saying this because I don't want to hurt you But I don't feel that way... Else, it would be unbalanced. I am telling you something I don't feel."
She said her husband would accuse her of being selfish: "I don't feel I am so selfish I don't care about others. I consider other people's feelings."
In the end, the show was no panacea. Wright and Memphitz had been separated six months when they taped this show last year. Today, they remain apart but are not officially divorced.
Here is a segment of the interview I did with Wright about the show earlier this week at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The first episode features a reveal that she "allowed" Memphitz a "hall pass" to cheat. And he did.
"It started out as a bedroom joke," she said to me. "He knows me. I'm not that girl. It spiraled out of control."
Ultimately, she said the show is "very emotional to watch," Wright said. "Filming that show was emotionally draining. You dig really deep with issues with your family and your relationship."
One of the more amusing exercises is when they have people in the house" purposely date people who are very different from their mates. The producers paired Wright with Adam Friedman, an overly cautious doomsday prepper who dates a former "America's Next Top Model" contestant Lisa D'Amato.
"Me and Adam were so boring together," she said with a laugh. "It's almost like I was starting to miss the crazy man! Snoozefest!" (She had no idea even what he did for a living. "I'd be making it up if I say it," she said.)
She said she needs a man between Adam and Memphitz. "They're either too wild or too boring!"
Wright said she was also flummoxed why actress Tara Reid showed up with her boyfriend Dean May because she was totally unwilling to talk about anything of substance the first couple of episodes.
"She's actually a really sweet girl," Wright said. "I enjoyed her in the house. But there were moments I was thinking, 'Why are you here? I don't understand. You don't want to open up. You don't want to talk about anything. Why did you sign up on this show?' It's only going to get more confusing."
She said she has a hard time to read people and figure out their ulterior motives when dating. "I'm over with the marriage repair shows or dating shows," she said. She'd love to do a reality show focused on her building her business but not a "Real Housewives"-style show.
Of course "Housewives" approached her at one time. (Creator Carlos King worked on her "Super Sweet Sixteen" episode.)
“I love the housewives," Wright said. "I love all the girls on it. I love the franchise. At the time, they were looking for something from me I wasn't willing to do." (She didn't say what that actually was but given how these shows often "encourage" particular storylines, that's not a surprise.)
Wright, off camera, hustles. She sells wig products and a fancy bonnet to prevent bedhead but still look fashionable (Before Bed Headz.). She's written a couple of books and is on her third one, where she and her 17-year-old daughter Reginae (from her previous marriage with Lil Wayne) focus on their own relationship as mom and daughter. The self-published book should be out this fall, she said.
"Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars," 9 p.m. Fridays, WE-TV