If you find yourself ending a sentence with a dotcom or remixing a word or just flat out making one up to ridiculous, epic proportions, those zany Braxton sisters are likely to blame. (Like “f.a.c.a.,” which comes courtesy of Trina, but you’ll have to read down to get the definition of that word. And make sure the kids aren’t around when you read it.)
We’re now in the second part of Braxton Family Values season three, and they’ve giving us more reality realness—taking on divorces, new family additions, and possible infidelity. EBONY.com checks in with Trina and Towanda Braxton, who give the scoop on what’s to come.
EBONY: How has the reality show changed the dynamics of who you guys are as sisters?
Trina Braxton: After going back and looking at the show, we’ve noticed in our sisterhood that we didn’t really have boundaries. We could just say whatever we want to say to each other, about each other, about each other’s vices and families. So we just had to have some adult boundaries. Now we are adult women, and we need to not be those same close little girls that we always were. We can still be close, but it has to change in an adult way.
Towanda Braxton: When we were younger, we were able to say whatever we wanted to say. But now when we have our own individual families, some things have to be taboo, hands off. We never really had that adult conversation with each other to say, “Hey, this is off limits, guys.” We just went for what we knew, what was comfortable.
EBONY: The disadvantage you guys have is, you’re on a reality show. So when two sisters are having a private conversation about another sister, ultimately they’re going to find out. Do you guys give each other heads up?
Towanda: We kind of always find out! Somehow, something slips up. Trina used to call Toni “Huffingtoni Post.” Being the oldest, she always felt she had a right to say stuff. She almost wanted to be the peacemaker. She thought she was being the peacemaker, but that wasn’t so! She would say, “I had a conversation with Trina, and Trina told me yada yada ya.” And we would look at her like, “Uh, Toni, you weren’t supposed to tell her that information.”
EBONY: When you guys first started doing the reality show, you gave us identifiers as to what your roles were in the family. Has that changed as the show’s evolved?
Towanda: I don’t think that it has changed, because that’s just who we are. We wanted everybody to know a little bit of our personalities in the beginning, because no one really knew all of our personalities other than Toni. But I would have to say Traci has emerged from being a “Wannabe.” I didn’t really like the name “Wannabe” anyway.
Trina: I definitely agree with what Towanda says, but only to a certain degree. There are certain times, depending on where we are with our sisterhood, that our rules will somewhat change. Towanda and I live in Georgia together. So if there’s something going on between Towanda and I, then another sister will have to be that peacemaker or the person that steps in. And Toni and Tamar live in California, so one of us might have to step in. In that respect, the rules might tend to change.
EBONY: You ladies are entering a point in your celebrity where you don’t want to give everything away, as evidenced by the first few episodes this season. But yet you live in front of reality TV cameras. How do you balance?
Trina: It really is difficult to live in that grass hut. However, if we say we’re going to have a reality show and we’re going to be real, we’re going to be real. Now mind you, there are some things that happen between a husband and wife that everybody just doesn’t need to know. You don’t need to know how many times, and when you don’t, and when you do, and all of that. It’s personal. But when I see that something is really affecting my children, it’s a hold. But people can only use what you allow.
EBONY: Is there anything that’s completely off limits?
Towanda: Yeah. My kids are off limits. When you try to portray them in a negative way, that’s off limits. Or my nieces and nephews, my nephews or niece, that part of it is off limits. Because they’re innocent and we’re the only people to really protect them at this point. So that would be off limits for me.
EBONY: That said, what keeps you guys coming back?
Towanda: Because we’re helping other people. I have to admit, there are some times when you’re like, “Oh my gosh, I don’t feel like it today.” But then you get the encouraging email, tweet or message to say, “Oh my God, Towanda, thank you so much for talking about this situation because it helped me through my relationship.” Or, “Trina, oh my gosh, I was going through the same thing and I was shameful. I didn’t want to talk to my sisters about it.” Or “I was estranged from my sister and you guys made me want to have relationship with my sister again,” and they’ve rekindled their relationships. So we know that, even though our parents were ministers, we feel like this reality show is ministering to different relationships.
EBONY: Does it give you as much medicine as it gives the viewers of your show?
Towanda: Absolutely. When you’re in an African-American family, we tend to sweep things under the rug. So this reality show has forced us to deal with our issues. It’s being displayed on television, we have to deal with it. We can’t turn our heads, we can’t turn our backs on the situations anymore. We have to deal with the things in front of us like the elephant in the room. We have to deal with the elephant, address and move forward, and that makes our relationships stronger.
Trina: I think it also affords us the ability to look back at a situation. Because sometimes when you’re in a moment, you’re like, “I didn’t say that. I didn’t mean it like that.” But unlike other people, we get to hit rewind and say, “Oh my gosh! I did say that. Oh, I didn’t mean it the way it came out. I meant to say it, but I didn’t mean it like that or in that way,” and we can apologize.
EBONY: You guys also have fun. You’ve introduced us to some great remixed words and phrases. You’ve brought some fun stuff to pop culture.
Trina: We’re just being who we are! Let me tell you something, we all make up words and things. I’m like, “Where did you get that from?” They’re like, “I don’t know. It just flew out of my mouth. It just sounded right at the time!” Even growing up, we would make our own television shows, we would just get the video camera out and we’d make our own cooking shows, our own talk shows. We’re just creative people!
Towanda: I love that word f.a.c.a., by the way, Trina. As women, we think about the little pouch. I used to call it the Marilyn pouch women get. And Trina called it the f.a.c.a., the fat above the coochie area. That was hilarious to me.
EBONY: I envision a Braxton glossary terms book soon coming. Surely, somebody has thought of this, right?
Trina: Yes! And guys have a p.a.c.a., with a P.
EBONY: Does it surprise you that people are so invested in your lives like this?
Towanda: We’ve always been told that we were entertaining and that the chemistry happens with all five of us together. I think people wanted to watch the show because Toni—she’s the superstar of the family, and she was a bit of an aloof. She never really showed her life and talked about personal things in her life. I think in the very beginning, people just wanted to see what’s really going on with Toni Braxton and her family.
EBONY: What about this season? What are some of the things fans are going to be tweeting about in the coming weeks?
Towanda: My fabulous 40th birthday party! We’re on the road with Toni, we’re doing some things with Tamar, so it’s just going to be a lot of fun stuff. And there’s a little bit of sister drama. We don’t like each other in some of these episodes, but we love each other. There’s more drama in this season than all the seasons put together.
EBONY: But it also sounds like more fun too.
Towanda: It is! A lot of fun. We’re learning to exercise our boundaries. It’s been a little uncomfortable for some of the individuals. But hey, we’ve got to do it.
EBONY: Now that Tamar has a successful album out, and Toni is back in the studio with Babyface for a duet album, will we see the sisters finally do one together?
Trina: I would love to. Trina would absolutely love for that to happen. And I was telling my sisters, even if we just do at least one record, just to test the waters, I think it would still be a great idea.