Tell us if this sounds crazy: a woman signs up to mentor another young woman and ends up getting a call from a hospital saying “Your baby is ready.” Rather than hanging up and assuming it’s a prank or hanging up and running back to her cushy Hollywood lifestyle, the woman took a moment, took a breath, and then took in that baby. Oh wait, and there’s more: then she somehow convinced her friends to band together with her to raise the child, who will probably turn out to mature most of them just as much as they do with him. It gives a whole other understanding of “it takes a village” to raise a child, doesn’t it? Well, that’s comedienne Kym Whitley‘s story, and that story is taking OWN by storm in reality series Raising Whitley.
“Before the baby, I was sexy, and now with Joshua, I’m Mama Sexy,” Whitley says in the promos for Raising Whitley.
But in all seriousness, motherhood is a major adjustment for anyone, and Whitley is handling it with a whole lot of heart in addition to humor.
“I created a village because I’m out here in Los Angeles, and I don’t have any family [here], so I had to create my family,” Whitley said at the OWN TCA presentation in Los Angeles today.
“The real truth is…they said ‘We have a baby for you; you have an hour to make a decision.’ ‘What happens if I don’t?’ ‘They’re going to put him back in the system.’ That sounds scary to me’ I don’t know what that is. But the truth is I had to look at myself as…an actress and a single woman. I said, ‘Okay what is the return policy?’ I know that’s wrong, but I had to be honest. Really, if I can’t take this child…”
His biological mother is still in Whitley’s life, but the woman is not in her son Joshua’s life. Joshua has been legally adopted by Whitley, and he has a firm father figure in her good friend Rodney Van Johnson, as well. In fact, Van Johnson was the one who gave Whitley the courage to actually take the child in because he said “we’ll figure it out” and that he would step in and step up.
“I told you we were going to have a baby together one day!” Whitley said to Van Johnson on stage.
“We always said if we didn’t have kids, we’d have a kid together, but who would’ve thunk it?” He quipped back.
Whitley and Van Johnson have different approaches to parenting Joshua, and bringing in other eclectic friends comes with their own points of view, as well. Joshua, therefore, is getting diverse life lessons that should make him a better rounded child. At least, that’s what Whitley is hoping. She started out the journey feeling like she needed help with Joshua, but now it’s really about enriching this special little boy’s life as much as possible.
Raising Whitley is coming into its second season, and because Joshua is almost three now, there is a lot of exploration of his growth and development as a baby into a young man to see just how much he is taking which specific lessons closer to heart than others to make him the man he will grow up to be.
“He’s going to be angry, but what teenager isn’t?” Whitley said of Joshua becoming more aware of his life being documented as he gets older now and then later, looking back on it.
“What I love about Raising Whitley and what a better network than OWN to be with is that this child is actually helping other children throughout the world that will see this show…We’re a family, not only while we’re filming does he have the village, but he has the OWN executives that come around and the pilgrim village. We cannot wait to see what he grows up to be with so much love and support. That’s really what I’m looking forward to.”
Everyone has an entourage in Hollywood; this one’s just full of positivity.
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