Yandy Smith Explains How ‘Love & Hip-Hop’ Got Started
As one of the more sustainable characters on the Love & Hip-Hop franchise, Yandy Smith has literally been attached to the VH1 reality saga since its inception in 2011. Many even do not know that Yandy is partially the reason that the show exists in the first place, as she brought the idea over to Mona Scott-Young years ago and the two later developed the series. In addition to starring on the show, Yandy, a longtime vet in the entertainment industry, has her hands in as many pots as she can fit them in. Aside from her duties as a mother, as portrayed on Love & Hip-Hop, Yandy is also in the midst of creating her own TV show as well as a film.
XXL chopped it up with Yandy about all of her recent endeavors, as she just wrapped production on her new play "For Vixens Who've Considered Homicide When The Video Was Too Much" starring Melyssa Forde. Speaking on life as a mom, her thoughts on Mona Scott, and more, get caught up on all things Yandy. —Miranda Johnson
XXL: Do you feel you've had a tough time coming up in the industry?
Yandy Smith: Absolutely, there’s definitely some trials that I went through being a woman that I wouldn’t compromise certain things. Being a woman that stands for certain things, 'cause everyone doesn’t agree. Everyone doesn’t think you deserve this. Some people feel like you’re pompous or you’re better than [them]. Like, "Oh you won’t do that? Who do you think you are?"
Just standing firm is a trial within itself because people make it hard. But thank God things that were instilled in me from [when] I was young caused me to not compromise things. People compromise on their standards and their morals to get certain places and I just wouldn’t. So that made things a little more difficult for me.
You’ve linked with Mona Scott. How do you feel when people speak negatively about her because of her success?
When Mona and I got together and started thinking about Love & Hip-Hop, we thought about it in a totally different light from what it turned into today. We thought about it as something that would provide the women that are behind the scenes, behind these men, some light. We wanted to provide them [with] a job, provide them [with] an income. [A place] where they could tell their stories and tell what their struggles are, what their victories are.
It’s transformed into something more than that. But again, as women, we are multidimensional. We argue, we scream, we laugh, we dance, we party, we raise our children, we take care of our men; it’s just who we are. So if a television show captures that and some of the other crazy stuff we don’t always want out there—it's who we are. Mona does get a lot of [flack] for some of the things that occur but I can tell you guys that there is not a script. There is no, "This is when you throw the bottle, this is when you throw the punch." There is none of that. So [they] point the figure and they say Mona did this or those producers did that but there is no script that tells you when to act a damn fool. We all don’t do it.
I can’t speak [for] people that feel differently in front of the camera, but you have to make a very personal decision of who you want to be and what image you want to put out there. Do I get crazy? Absolutely. Do I feel like I want to throw a drink sometimes? Do I feel like I want to strangle people sometimes? Absolutely. Will I put that out on camera? No, because there’s a certain image that I want the world to see. There is a certain way I want to carry myself. I have businesses. I have children. I can’t do what I would do on the street in front of a camera where the world, my businesses and my children will see it.
How dare [anyone] raise a finger and say, "You made me like that"? She ain’t [their] momma. She didn’t raise anyone to punch, or to choke, or to throw bottles. Mona didn’t do that. So how dare [anyone] point their finger and say she did?
Mimi, for example, recently admitted that she did a sex tape for the show. How do you feel when people shine such a negative light on the show?
It’s a personal decision. I cannot judge Mimi for what she did. I don’t walk in her shoes. I don’t know how she feeds her daughter. I don’t know how she pays her bills. I can’t say what I won’t do to feed my son. I can’t say there is a limit to how far I would go to make sure he eats. So I can’t point a finger at her. I don’t know her reasoning. I don’t know if she did it 'cause she just likes having sex and this was fun for her. Or I don’t know if she didn’t have another way to generate income.
Personally, if my tapes got lost, I would probably sue the company instead of making other enhancements and tapes for the company. They decided to put it out, but that’s me. Again, I can’t say what her needs are or what her decision process was. For me, I just wouldn’t do that.
You mentioned that you and Mona have been working on this for a long time. How did you all get together for this idea?
Originally I got a deal with VH1 for a show and it was called Keeping Up With The Joneses. It was totally based on Chrissy, Jim [Jones] and their family. It was great. VH1 loved the idea. We shot a pilot but I really couldn’t get Jim to commit. Doing a reality show takes a lot of time. At the time, his career was booming. He wanted to be on the road. We were doing the Street Dreams Tour. It was crazy at the time and there was a lot going on.
To get him to commit to shooting five days a week sometimes, it was really too much. So I went to Mona and was like, "I really don’t want to lose my deal at VH1. I need your help." I introduced her to some of the producers and she was working on a show with another network about women behind the scenes. We kind of fused our ideas. I was able to keep Jim and his family. She infused women behind the scenes. Then Love & Hip Hop came about. She created the title Love & Hip Hop. That’s kind of what birthed Love & Hip Hop.
You’re returning for the next season. [Your fiance] Mendeecees is back. What’s going on with you in the show?
There’s a lot going on. A lot of family stuff. He’s getting readjusted with the boys. He’s getting readjusted with me and our family. It’s just a lot, you’ll see. He’s never really been there as a dad to Amir. Amir was very small when he left, he was like six months, so just seeing their interaction. He’s never really been around me as a mom with a toddler with all of these new job titles that I have. I’m producing a play, I'm producing another TV show and I’m producing a film. Then [me] having time for him, having time for the boys is a lot. So you see me kind of balancing being a mom and working, being a wife. All those kind of things.
So you’re producing a new TV show and a movie?
Yeah, I have a film that I’m working on. We actually just had a big short film exposé of some of the films that I’ve been working on under my production company. It’s called Noelle Calloway Films. Then I’m working on a TV show. It’s a cooking show, it’s called Modern Domestic. It’s me in my kitchen cooking and I have special guest come over. We talk about pop culture and things that’s going on. Then at the end of every episode, there'll be a meal.