The entertainer opens up to ET about healing the wounds of her past and looking toward her future with a fresh slate of projects.
Tamar Braxton had no idea two little heart emojis would blow up the way they did, but she’s glad they did. The 44-year-old songstress set the Instagram comments section ablaze earlier this month when she dropped some emoticons on a video shared by her former The Real co-host Adrienne Bailon Houghton. Houghton posted an emotional clip reuniting with fellow The Real alum Tamera Mowry-Housley, the two embracing after more than a year apart due to the pandemic (and Mowry-Housley's choice to leave the daytime program last summer). Mowry-Housley quickly commented back to Braxton, "hi Tay Tay!!!! I miss youuuuu," to which Braxton responded, "I miss you too…& so much!" with another heart.
"For a while, Tamera and I relationship has been so strained, we even stopped following each other on social media," Braxton explains to ET, "and when I tell you it was really a moment that I captured of the two of them and it just really reminded me of old times, that was so beautiful and so magical. And I remember I used to be a part of that. And to be honest, I miss those girls. They were like my sisters. And so when I saw that moment, I just reacted out of what I saw and it really did help rekindle Tamera and my relationship. I'm really so happy that I got a chance to talk to her and text with her and catch up with her, and I'm just so grateful that time heals all wounds. And we have a chance to really grow up and stay under construction and elevate to the next level of our lives."
Braxton exited The Real in 2016, under complicated and confusing circumstances. At the time, she said she was blindsided by her firing and blamed her co-hosts for ousting her, leading to years of off-camera feuding between Braxton, Houghton and Mowry-Housley, as well as Loni Love and Jeannie Mai. Then, in January of this year, Braxton claimed on her podcast that new information had come to light, alleging that WEtv, the network behind her reality shows, Braxton Family Values, Tamar & Vince and Tamar Braxton: Get Ya Life!, actually orchestrated her dismissal from The Real behind Braxton’s back.
"I didn’t have any answers, nobody had any answers as to what happened," Braxton said on her show, Under Construction, "and the girls were getting blamed. It was ‘Tamar’s got an attitude problem’ … and do you know what I had heard years later through the grapevine, what really happened? I heard that the network I was working with at the time would not sign off and allowed me and them girls to fall out in public, almost ruin my whole career, my livelihood, everything that I worked for, and never said one time, didn’t say, ‘OK, you’re the star of the network, we’re gonna have a meeting with you, we don’t want you to do the show no more,’ at least give me a heads up. But no! Pulled the plug and then said nothing and allowed Loni to take the fall, Adrienne, Jeannie, Tamera and myself, and we up here battling and fighting as Black girls, and they don’t care! Scratching, battling and pointing the fingers, and we not on a reality show! This is real life!"
Braxton says that "new information" helped her on her journey toward healing.
"Me on my journey, I don't really want to get into he said, she said, that said, right? Because I think that’s falling into old habits," she shares. "But what I do know about me is that forgiveness is a big part of my life, and if I'm asking those to forgive me for the times when I was immature or the times that I didn't truly understand situations, I can only pass that on and that's what I want to do. So even if that means that I have to reach out first, that's fine with me, as long as the situation is handled and everyone grows and heals from it. But I do think time heals all wounds."
Braxton says there’s still work to be done with her and the ladies of The Real, hinting that she’s yet to reconcile with Love and Mai, but is working on it -- and plans to do it in private. While an in-person reunion of the original cast would be nice, Braxton says it won’t happen anytime soon.
"At the end of the day, I am grateful to have rekindled my relationships with the ladies that I've already rekindled my relationships with, and who knows about the future?" she asks. "We just cross our fingers and be our better selves."
"I really hope to rekindle all my relationships and then we could probably do something for the public," she adds. "But I think personally there's a lot of things that needs to be said, and a lot of hugs that needs to be had. And these are really old wounds that run really deep, because we really, truly loved each other. And I don't know. You never know."
Braxton is still on the fence about returning to The Real as a guest (she’s been invited over the years), noting "Tam Tam's [Mowry-Housley] not there anymore, so it really kind of won’t be the same."
While fans wait for the day The Real OGs are all back together, they can catch Braxton as a judge on BIGO IDOL, a singing competition currently playing out on the live streaming app, BIGO LIVE. Braxton will judge the finals on June 10 and June 11.
"I love an amazing competition show," she gushes. "I feel like this is my dream opportunity. I've always wanted to be a judge on a competition show, right? And what I'm looking for is talent -- amazing talent -- star quality, originality. And just that zing, we all need to have that zing and so that's exactly what I'm looking for. I want to be entertained."
Braxton is an avid user of the app, hosting her own performances, talent coaching, gossip sessions and more on the platform. It was a welcome escape during the pandemic, when Braxton couldn’t perform in person for her fans. That all changes this weekend, as she’s set to headline the opening of The Real Housewives of Atlanta alum NeNe Leakes’ new lounge, The Linnethia, in Atlanta on Saturday, and then a Memorial Day weekend concert in Houston on Sunday. The "Crazy Kind of Love" singer may even debut some new music at the events, as she has not one, but two new albums on the way.
"I've said this before, this is my best work yet, but this is my best Tamar yet, so therefore this is my super best work yet," she proclaims. "This is me living in my truth, being this new Tamar, this newfound relationship with myself and I'm really loving the music that's coming out of me now. It's great."
Braxton’s put in a lot of self-work over the last 12 months, soaking up what she sees as a second chance at life. Last July, Braxton was hospitalized after she attempted suicide amid an unrecognized bout with severe depression. Before the incident, Braxton was working on a different record than the two she plans to release now.
"Last summer I was a completely different person," she says, "and I don't want to shy away from who that person was, because that turned into the person that I am now. But I do definitely speak about those dark times and definitely those times where I needed help and didn't know how to cry out for it. And so it's a lot of inspirational, magical songs that will really help people who don't know who to turn to and needs to be healed, and don't know how to heal. And so these are two amazing albums -- without telling you exactly what they are -- but I definitely know that this music now will for sure heal your soul and that's what I'm here for."
Braxton says the biggest lesson she learned after surviving her suicide attempt was to "keep going, move forward."
"I keep thinking about when I felt so dark and so lost and so alone, if something would have happened to me, I keep remembering that tomorrow would have gone on anyway," she says. "So, why not keep living? Keep pushing forward? Even when you don't understand, you keep pushing forward. And I'm so happy that I did. I'm so happy that I'm doing the work -- and I've done so much work -- because I can live to tell about it and I can also live to help someone else who doesn't have the tools that I now have. So, keep pushing forward."
The aftermath of Braxton's hospitalization changed her life completely. Her relationship with boyfriend David Adefeso ended abruptly, with claims of domestic abuse flying back and forth between the two. She also stepped away from her family’s reality show, Braxton Family Values, claiming working for WEtv was the source of her depression, comparing her contractual obligations to slavery. Braxton's sisters and mother, however, continued to film the show (including coverage of the suicide attempt), and the network aired a pre-shot spinoff, Get Ya Life!, in the weeks after the event.
In July, WEtv released this statement: "Tamar Braxton has been an important part of our network family for more than a decade. As she focuses on her health and recovery at what is clearly a difficult and personal time, we will work with her representatives to honor her request to end all future work for the network. We wish her nothing but the best."
ET spoke with Braxton just weeks before her hospitalization, and at the time, she claimed she was living her "best life," the happiest she’d ever felt.
"I'm just going to be honest, I wasn't telling a lie," she remarks. "I had just been masking how I felt for so long. But I thought, honestly, that I was living my best life. You know what I mean? I was in quarantine with my boyfriend, and I was eating whatever I wanted and watching TV, and sleeping all day and I didn't know that that was a sure sign of depression. But I do know that now. And, yeah, now I am totally living my best life. Not just in this moment, but every single day. Do you want to know why? Because I make the choice to get up and try. Even when I don't feel like getting out of bed, I still make myself get out of bed and keep it moving. I'm telling you, I know it sounds so cliche and so simple, but I promise you, if you keep pushing forward, you'll never know what tomorrow may bring and I promise you, it won't be as bad as today. Tomorrow will not be as bad as today, that I can promise you."
When asked what the Tamar of 2020 would think of the Tamar of 2021, Braxton says she would be "so proud."
"Oh my god, not even just Tamar the 2020, little Tamar, 1977 Tamar," she says. "Sixth-grade Tamar, eighth-grade Tamar, 12th-grade Tamar, 21 Tamar. I think that little girl was so proud and she looks up to me now, because I check in with her within, and I make sure she's OK."
Braxton calls the last year her "blessing year," turning pain into purpose. She recently moved into the first home she’s ever bought on her own ("It’s the ultimate freedom," she exclaims), excited to create the future she wants for herself and her 7-year-old son, Logan, whom she shares with her ex-husband, Vincent Herbert. Braxton speaks openly about her struggles with her son, and says everything she went through during the pandemic has only made her a better mom.
"I have to remind him that even the days that he doesn't even feel [well], that this is just for now and trouble does not last always," she says. "And I'm just so glad that I have been working on myself and I have the tools to remain calm and be OK for him. Because, at the end of the day, our kids look up to who we are and how we act. And we have a responsibility to stay calm and to keep it together for them."
"With working on myself, I've been able to handle my emotions and not let my emotions overtake me and overtake a situation," she continues. "I still feel, yeah, but I put them into perspective and I know that everything is going to be all right and it's all in God's hands. And I have to rely on that and that's it. I can't control every moment, every instance, every person. I can only control me and control my emotions and that right there, my friend, is everything. Freedom."
As she moves into the next chapter of her life, Braxton has an eye on a return to TV. It just won't be on Braxton Family Values, the future of which is up in the air after the conclusion of season 7. Braxton says she really has no issues with her sisters continuing the show if they want to; her beef stays with the network.
"I love my family," she declares. "We have since all made amends and God is good and the future's good. So there you have it. … I know for a fact that Braxton Family Values as a family is not done. I can't really speak on my sisters, but they definitely have my blessing at whatever endeavors they want to pursue."
Braxton isn't interested in doing docuseries anymore, but says she has a few programs in the works that will still showcase the Tamar that BFV fans have come to know and love.
"I believe in making amazing television without divulging your inner dark secrets and making it all about drama, you know what I mean?" she says. "I think most people have been through enough this year to see other people's problems. I feel like we want to see laughter and fun and how to go outside again and have your best life. And that's really what I am about. I feel like TV definitely needs to take a different spin, a different turn and remind people of all the fun that we used to have. And I want to definitely be a big part of that."
"I want people to get to know Tamar, the new Tamar, the fun Tamar," she adds. "I mean, I'm still all of those things that people have fallen in love with, but I think, with life, I've evolved and I'm even better. I get better with wine. I mean, I get better like wine. You know what I mean? So I don't know. I really want to have fun and I really want to bring everyone along for the ride and be our best selves and live out, listen, summer 2021, because it's going to be an epic one."