Interview with Tommie Lee on 'Love & Hip Hop Atlanta': not quitting, not fired

This was posted Friday, June 9, 2017 by Rodney Ho/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Tommie Lee, the newest full-time cast member of "Love and Hip Hop Atlanta" this season, is not quitting the show nor has she been fired.

In an interview earlier this week at the AJC, the fiery Atlantan walked back on her May 23 Facebook Live video posting saying she didn't plan to come back for season seven in 2018.

"I'm really up in the air," she said this past Tuesday. "We're discussing it." In fact, nobody has to make a firm commitment on either side, she said, until September.

Tommie, who has been imprisoned many times over the years for various charges such as battery and shoplifting, said thanks to the TV show, this is the first time she's ever had a regular paycheck, a regular salary. She has found stability for her and two daughters Havalli (10) and Samaria (13).  (She has four other children of which she does not have custody.) She is living in a place that she can decorate because she feels like she can. So she clearly has an incentive to stay on the show if VH1 still wants her.

"I used to barely have enough money to pay the bills," Tommie said. "I'd steal and sell stuff. I now feel so blessed beyond measure."

(Her absence from the Jamaica trip airing now has to do with her not having a passport, she said, not because she was fired, as some gossip sites noted.)

She joined the cast in a recurring role in 2016 as the girlfriend of Scrapp De Leon but he was sent to prison last year for marijuana trafficking. You'd think this would have been the end for Tommie as well on the show, but the producers liked her and rewarded her a coveted spot in the main credits, replacing K. Michelle. (She joined existing cast members Joseline Hernandez, Karlie Redd, Mimi Faust, Tammy Rivera, Rasheeda Frost and Stevie J with top billing.)

Tommie said she enjoys the fame and exposure from the television show. "I love television," she said. "I love being able to show my life and getting paid for me being me." The downside is the mirror image of the upside: "Everyone knows your business. And they can be very judgmental."

She did hate seeing the disputes between her mom Samantha and her get played up so much on the show because she truly does loves her. "That part bothers me," she said. "She's not as strong as me. I don't want my mom to go through what I'm going through. It's a natural mechanism to be defensive of your parents as well as their children. I don't want to see her hurt."

Bottom line: "It's ratings for them. It's real to me."

Tommie and Tresure work out their anger issues in an earlier season 6 episode.

Tommie (real name: Atasha Jefferson) admits she is no saint but said she grew up under rough circumstances. Her mom never held a job, was always a hustler and that's where Lee learned her own bad habits. Life was better when she grew up in New Jersey where she had a backyard and played in a cemetery across the street. She said she was known as "Tomboy Tash" as a kid and that eventually became Tommie.

But her life got significantly worse as a teen when her family moved to Atlanta. Her stepdad was a crackhead. She and her siblings spent time in and out of shelters. She didn't graduate high school, had to get a GED.

Tommie is both upfront and defensive about her checkered past, which was revealed on the show. "I f**ked up a lot. I've been in jail. I wasn't dishonest going in. But it's none of your business. I paid my time. I did what I had to do."

She added, "I had a rough life.  I’m not making excuses. I was wrong for stealing."

A big focal point on "Love and Hip Hop" has been Lee's drinking, which exacerbates her volatile temper. She has gotten into a few fights with other women on the show. But she insists she is not an alcoholic. "I think an alcoholic is someone who depends on alcohol to function," she said. "I don't depend on alcohol. I can do whatever I want when I drink and still get up and handle my business."

But what chafes her the most is how Joseline got her arrested after Tommie allegedly made violent threats toward her, something she vehemently denied. Joseline had placed a restraining order against her and she supposedly violated it.

Many of the women on the cast, Tommie said, "take my weaknesses and used them against me. It's inhumane. It's inhumane to want someone arrested when they're trying to do the right thing now."

Her hatred for Joseline is almost as strong as that of Mimi. "I feel for Mimi," she said. "I get why she doesn't want her kid anywhere near her. Joseline sent me to jail. There's no coming back from that."

Tommie likes Mimi: "She's really cool. She's really funny. And intense. I feel like she can beat you up with her words!"

As for someone like Karlie, Tommie rolls her eyes: "she acts like a teen-age girl."

Tommie said some long-time part-time cast members were jealous when she was given full-time credit this season, specifically referencing Scrappy, who has been around since season one. But this is a female-oriented show and Stevie J is the only male in the main credits. He was only added to the main credits season four despite being a breakout star from day one in 2012.

The show recently shot its reunion shows, which will be airing next month. (The series has shown 12 episodes so far this season and usually airs 15 to 17 non-reunion shows per season.) She couldn't say how it all played out but confirmed that Joseline supposedly quit in a huff. Whether that means she's truly gone is a whole different story.

Obviously, reality shows don't last forever. Tommie has aspirations to act and to rap. "I'm dropping an EP," she said. "Music is my world. I eat sleep and s*** music." (Her hero: Tupac. "I'm such a guy," she said. "I'm hood." She fell over herself meeting Future recently in Cleveland.)

She is also seeking a mate. She's single. She admits she gets easily bored in relationships. But she still believes someone right is for her out there. "I want one man I could really love," she said. "I crave monogamy." But she wants loyalty, open communication and no surprises. 

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.