Everything seems to be coming up Monifah Carter these days. Her role on TVOne’s successful R&B Divas Atlanta has given her name a second chance at life post her ‘90s “Touch It”-fueled stardom. After many years of addiction and tough times, she is now happy, clean, wise, and in love, and also just happens to be making history. Her marriage to her super-hot fiancee Terez, airing this Wednesday on the R&B Divas finale, will be the first ever African-American same-sex marriage to air on TV.
In addition, she’s making new music again, and her new single, “The Other Side,” hit the iTunes store this week. (Go get it, y’all!) Monifah took some time to talk to us this week about her wedding, her peace with the fact that her religious daughter decided not to attend, gay rights in the South, the future, and much more.
AfterEllen.com: First of all, congratulations on all that’s happened!
Monifah: Thank you! I’m happy.
AE: It’s been beautiful getting to watch you on R&B Divas, especially this season. And I can’t wait for the big event this week. What was the best and the worst part of the wedding?
Monifah: There were no worst parts, Jill. It was beautiful, and it was just the way it was supposed to be. And I had already made up my mind that I was not going to be crazy, and that I was going to enjoy the experience. I think people get caught up in the celebration and pleasing people. But the only people I had to please, that had to be pleased, were Terez and I. And once we made some hard lines in certain areas, we’re pretty easy going. We wanted a really natural looking theme, and we had an incredible wedding producer, Brit Bertino. So we made our minds up that we were going to have a good time, and that this is a happy occasion. Because we’d heard horror stories.
AE: Exactly! So you weren’t bridezillas.
Monifah: No, I wasn’t. They were trying to make it seem like I was. I mean, I worried. I was nervous. I had nerves, and I was a little short-fused as far as patience and stuff like that. But it wasn’t about the wedding. I was dealing with a lot of things at one time. And then the fact that there was going to be cameras at our wedding, you know what I’m saying?
AE: Yeah, I was going to ask how you felt about having such a personal event also be this kind of landmark, historic thing of the first televised African-American, same-sex wedding. That’s a lot of stuff to deal with at once. Did you have to just put that stuff to the back of your mind and just focus on yourselves?
Monifah: Well, the reason why we shared the ceremony is that we felt it was bigger than us, on a social level or a civil rights level. And of course, because Terez surprised me, asking me to marry her on national television—
Monifah: We weren’t necessarily planning it like that. We didn’t really know if we were going to have the cameras. They asked, and we were like, well, we have to think about it. We thought about it. And what it was was that it was bigger than us. We thought it was something we had to do. Because with the climate of social change and the climate of same-sex representation, and legal, political things, transgender rights—our community, period, the LGBTQ community, we thought it was really, really important.
AE: I agree. I give you serious props for doing it.
Monifah: We gotta normalize it. This is part of the new American family. Same-gendered couples are a part of America. This is nothing new, but the new part of it is that we’re able to be protected under the same laws as heterosexual couples that are married. That is what is different. But as far as being productive members of society, there’s nothing different there.
AE: Speaking of those kind of rights, do you have any hopes for those kind of rights coming to Georgia? It seems like there’s this same-sex marriage train all over, but the South…
Monifah: Yeah, what they call the Bible Belt in America? There are people that are really set in their ways on a lot of issues, not just same-gendered marriage, and not just LGBTQ issues. It’s all across the board. It’s race. It’s class. All that stuff. In this area, there needs to be some change. There has to be change. There just has to be. And if I have to be a voice, I will be. I have to be a voice, clearly. I think we’re going to have to really do some work in certain states, real footwork. You know?
AE: Yeah, for sure. I feel like it’s getting there. Even in the Bible Belt, there’s hope.
Monifah: I have hope. Absolutely, I have hope. Individually, people are way more compassionate and non-judgmental than I think the media would like to make us think. Because I think the media pushes a lot of propaganda based on thinking you have a lot of ignorance and hate. You know, we have our fair share of that. But I believe that there’s way more people that are loving and compassionate and non-judgmental than there are people that hate. I just do.