From the moment she said hello and our phone conversation started I knew that this was going to be a candid, raw, upfront and totally empowering conversation with one of American reality TV’s most beguiling women , Mimi Faust.
On the cusp of filming Season 4 of the famed Love and Hip Hop Atlanta franchise, Mimi graciously made time in her busy schedule of filming, writing her book, running her side businesses and raised her gorgeous daughter Eva, to talk to me and offer an insight into her world. Gracious would be the key word used to describe Faust, who has gone through her fair share of drama over the last few years, as she navigates her way through the personal tragedies to emerge on the other end a true survivor. Her appearance on the show, which first aired on 18th June 2012, has seen her relationship with Hip Hop producer and musician Stevie J secure its position as one of reality TV’s most polarising couples since the show’s inception and has been the vocal and focal point for most of the series fans to date. What we see is 100% real and according to Mimi, is her life as it unfolds on the daily, in all its glory. From humiliation and heartbreak as her relationship with Stevie crumbled under the pain of public infidelity and scandal to powerful redemption and re-invention of self, Mimi has bared her soul for the world to see and walks with her head and heart intact as she tackles the everyday challenges of co-parenting with her now ex-partner Stevie and their daughter, and providing finically for her own empire. Through each tumultuous season in the LAHHA franchise, a fresh new pot of turmoil has engulfed Faust, be it the fallout of her coupling with Stevie J, her estranged mother’s painful passing and the discovery of that sex tape with her now ex-boyfriend Nikko Smith that went on to shut down the internet earlier this year. How one does come out of these fires unscathed … Mimi Faust could write a book on it!
As she enters the 4th season a show that has truly been a lesson on pleasure and pain for the beautiful entrepreneur, what we learn about Mimi is that she is not afraid to be human in an environment where all women are concerned about showing are their assets. Mimi is a living, breathing example of woman who has flaws, has made mistakes and has fought and lost in the war of love, what we also learn is that there is so much more to this stunning beauty in that she is a fiercely independent woman who knows the value of working for what you want. As she focusses on her future as a single mother to her daughter, Mimi is excited about the various business opportunities that has happened upon her in recent times. She is working on her first book, a memoir that lends itself to capturing more of her childhood and formative years leading to the woman she has become. She also runs her successful interior cleaning and designing company to the upper eschalon in Atlanta and is building the arm of that company to launch her own interior accessories and decorating brand ensemble so the woman is busy and loving every minute of her designing life.
Talking to Mimi was like kicking back with a girlfriend and sharing the gossip and giggles of the day. She is warm, engaging and deliciously girly but don’t get it twisted, she is on her grown woman business and will check you if you step with disrespect or negativity like a lady should. Our conversation, her first in Australia, bridged the gaps of distance and time and we connected like to two souls with familiar years between us as chatted symbiotically about life, children, men and our core spirits. Listening in you wouldn’t have guessed we had never met each other, until then on that long distance call between Sydney and Atlanta. Its moments like those and interviews like this that make me fall in love with the essence of my job as a writer of truths and heart matters and I am so proud to have connected with a woman like Mimi, who lives fearlessly in the pursuit of her dreams and does what she does not for the love of hip hop, but with the love of a mother!
Hi Mimi, such a pleasure to speak with you – How are you and how is life treating you?
Hey Maxine, I am doing wonderful thank you. I am in a really good place in my life now.
Where do we begin – Love and Hip Hop Atlanta – wow!! What an addictive, raw, energetic rollercoaster ride of a reality show this has been! Truly one of the most intense of the Love and Hip Hop brand would you agree? How has your life changed since becoming a part of this show?
It is most definitely the most intense show of the brand I have to agree (laughs). You know for me I just continue living an everyday life really and try to remain the same woman I was before this show started… I’m a mom, a friend, a daughter, a working woman providing for her daughter and her future and to me those are things that will never change about me. I would say the biggest change for me would be the lack of privacy really at the end of the day but you just have to get on with life and do the regular things.
Mimi, I gotta say I have been a supporter, fan, cheerleader of yours from the start lady. You carry yourself with a poise, grace and regal air that, can at times become quite polarizing to see you in scenes that are anything but what your character possess? For fans of the show in Australia your relationship with your ex Stevie J and the trials and dramas that involvement has brought to your life has been an aspect that everyone has been touched and affected by during the three seasons of the show. Watching you go through the drama of that relationship whilst raising your 4 year old little girl Eva and stay true to yourself has been something I believe resonated with all of your fans ….. How do you feel now, the woman you are today, looking back on what that first season brought you through and if there was anything you could change about your portrayal at the time would you?
You know what for Season 4 I really want to focus on my businesses and relationships with my friends in this new season. You know everybody was so used to seeing me involved in some situation or dealing with relationship drama so it made me look like I was never happy or positive, which is so not the way I am. I want to focus on me and my daughter this season, growing my businesses and myself as a woman and just enjoying Mimi more without that focus on a relationship. I am single now and enjoying this time and space in my life. I say that now though but you never what’s about to blow up on the show so I stay prepared (laughs).
What made you sign up to do Love and Hip Hop Atlanta? Had you watched the drama ensue in the New York version prior to Atlanta’s season being shot? What do you think separates the reality of the two cities and would you say women in the ATL handle love and hip hop in a different way to those of their New York sisters?
Hahaha okay you ready for this, now this is a very interesting story right here. So my friend Hannah Kay, who was helping Mona ( Scott King) with the casting of this show, sends me a text on the Monday they were in Atlanta and asks me if I would interested in coming down for the casting of the show with Stevie and that was all was all she said. So I’m like “I need more information like when, where etc.” and she responds with Wednesday, 4pm, Mansion Hotel “– that’s it. Mind you this is Monday so this shit is happening in two days. So I call Stevie and tell him about what Hannah informed me of and at that time we were both just not in a good place in our relationship so he was just not feeling it, to put it mildly. I said to him what have we got to lose right (laughs) and he just wasn’t having a bar of it, couldn’t sell it to him if I tried (laughs). So I decided to go down anyway by myself as I was intrigued and who do I see when I get down there sitting in the lobby …. Stevie! Hahaha So we have an argument right there in the lobby because we really going through relationship issues at the time and Mona’s assistant comes over and says “Hey we didn’t think you guys were going to show up “ and we were like ok so where do we go. Mind you I’m looking at Stevie like “What the hell … why the change of heart? So we head upstairs for our interview and Stevie, fresh from yelling and cursing me out in the lobby, switched to this gentle spirited man talking about space and spirits aligning etc. and I’m like “ what!!!” Everybody was steady looking at each other going ‘umm what’s going on here “and I just had enough of his BS so I just said out loud “you know what the problem is here – he just doesn’t know how to come home at night” and once I said that everybody like stood up and was like tell us more and that was how the deal was sealed. (laughs)
Mimi and ex-partner Stevie J
Season 3 has brought you through a different storm as we learn about your relationship with Atlanta performer Nikko and that sex tape that was leaked. The aftermath from that leak was quite big with everyone weighing in on the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s on what was essentially your business and no one else’s. How have you survived that storm Mimi and more importantly where has that controversy (at the time) placed you and your career now?
Okay, let’s start from the beginning girl. So Nikko and I had filmed ourselves a few times prior to that tape you know, for our own personal viewing pleasure and not to be for the whole world to see (laughs). We were on vacation and on our way back Nikko checked two bags and I had checked one. But only one of his bags came back. Now we had to stop in Miami too so I not sure if his second bag even left the Bahamas or where it went missing by the time we got back to the States. The bag that was missing was the bag with the tape in it and I didn’t know that until Nikko told me once he realised it was never going to be retrieved a few days after. A few weeks later I ended getting a call from Vivid Entertainment, which is the largest adult entertainment company in the US saying that they had been given the tape of Nikko and I and were we interested in discussing a distribution deal with them to release it officially. Man, the thoughts running in my head at the time, how do I decide to work this situation? So Nikko and I flew to LA to meet with them and in that meeting they explained to us how quickly this tape will spread by whoever had it online and by signing a deal with them it would be exclusive and a financial decision. So at that time you know I had to make a business decision and try and think with my head not my emotions and that was basically what happened and had to quickly decide which way to go and secure financial benefit rather than it be a free for all and here we are.
Man the controversy and feedback was intense and I basically had to shut down from social media as it was so bad, I mean just vicious. So I didn’t go on my Instagram or Twitter for a while and just had to look away from the negative comments and opinions and just shut down. I was so surprised at how harsh the ridicule and judgement was with that tape and I couldn’t help but think to myself wow like this is no different from any other woman having done a sex tape with her man, it was like I was getting gangbanged or sleeping with a stranger you know so that baffled me a little. I mean seriously I didn’t do anything different than any other woman would out there, well maybe that shower scene was a little different huh? (laughs)
MMM different is not the word I would use for that scene girl (laughs) – let’s just say that Home Depot and Bed Bath and Beyond were inundated with requests for shower rails thanks to your athletic self. As big as I am I have no business trying to be sexy dangling off no shower rail now ( laughs ) – you owned that shower scene Ms Mimi ( laughs)
Girl stop (laughs) well I certainly didn’t intend for that scene to be as talked about as much as it has been. It was something as simple as wanting to take a shower to cool off and then I guess we got each other hot again ( laughs). Look at the end of the day you have to laugh at these things and know who you are after it all. I have no regrets with what happened and even though my relationship ended with Nikko after it was discovered he was still married at the time, even though I was angry and hurt I was with him at the time for the right reasons and I can make peace with that and move on now.
Mimi and ex-boyfriend Nikko Smith
You have been a women who has truly bared her heart on this show, not just with what you went through with your time with Stevie J, but you have made no secret to the challenging childhood you had growing up with the absence of your mom. As a mom to a beautiful little girl it’s as if you have been given the chance to ‘do –over’ with your daughter the time you lost with your mom – how do you ensure that everything you go through and experience in life and on this show is far removed from the way you raise your child today?
You know for me it’s just wanting to give Eva the best childhood I can and be a better mother to her. I don’t want her growing up the way I did and just want the best for her all the time. You know I think at times I almost over do that love and care for her as I missed so much of that connection with my own mom growing up that I fear that happening to Eva. I know it won’t but I just feel like I have to tell myself to ease up sometimes as it may be too much fussing with my baby at times, but I know she knows she is loved and secure so I guess I’m doing a good job. I try to give her everything I never had you know, the hugging, the praise and I really see it making such a difference and she is growing up to be this happy, loving little girl and that’s all I ever wanted to see.
Mimi and daughter Eva
Can I ask how things are with Stevie now after everything you endured during those first two seasons and with the relationship ending – can we believe everything we read in the press Mimi?
(Laughs) Ha-ha never believe anything you read in the press! Just recently, over the last month and a half ago, we have started being cordial to each other and we have just started to get back on speaking terms after what seemed like a really bad angry space we were in, and no doubt warranted at the time with everything going on. I was so hurt and disappointed and angry with what had happened with our relationship and the way he chose to handle things that for a long time I really didn’t want anything to do with him. However sharing our daughter means we had to deal with everything as best we could for her and learn to co-parent for her best interests. That’s all that matters to me now, all of that other nonsense does not matter where our daughter is concerned and that’s all I need him to respect and deal with. So let’s see how we go…
What’s next for Mimi? A new season of the show, your own projects and businesses – what do you look forward to achieving most in this lifetime?
I’m just focussing on me and getting my different business projects off the ground. I have a few things on the table that I am working away at quietly for now ( laughs) but first and foremost I have just finished my book, which is a memoir about my childhood and all I went through growing up and I am getting ready to put that out. Another project that has me excited is I am working on a home accessory line that leads off from my interior decorating passion so I’m working on that so those are just two of the projects I am working on right now and its keeping me focussed and busy and happy.
What I would like to achieve when I do exit Love and Hip Hop is something positive and lasting that wasn’t always shrouded by drama and mess. I want to leave something positive and I hope the show does capture that you know, that there is a better way to handle situations rather than slapping somebody or cursing at people. There are better ways to handle yourself in every situation.
Any shout outs to your fans in Australia and fans of the show.
Yes …… I just want to say thank you to everybody for the support in Australia and for watching the show and just supporting all the cast and especially myself and keep watching us – we love you guys. And thank you Maxine for this great interview, I really appreciate it.
For more information on Mimi Faust and Love and Hip Hop Atlanta Season 4
Facebook: @Official Mimi Faust
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