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Written By: Stephanie Scales

After granting millions of wavering viewers access into her personal life for six seasons, as a leading cast member on a top-ranking reality television hit show, Mimi Faust could probably write a pretty captivating tell-all.

Her position has produced the burden of widespread scrutiny, a burden designed to overwhelm and breakdown the average person, but Mimi is strong. Rather than falter, she has chosen to crack through the tough shell of public exposure, and extract the sweet center of success. During a recent chat with Kontrol’s Online Editor, Stephanie Scales, Mimi offered insight on balancing parenthood with entrepreneurship, advice on stepping out of your 9 to 5, and dished on self-care, plus her favorite DIY beauty secrets!

Stephanie: As an entrepreneur, how do you find balance between motherhood, and business?

 Mimi: Prayer [laughs]. You know, you just kind of. . .you make it work when you have a child, and you have a career. You’ve got to find time, and make time for everything. You’ve just got to make it work. There’s no handbook, or anything like that. And have a good team. My nanny is amazing. Have good people around.

mimi faust

Mimi is a dedicated mother to her daughter, Eva, and a very passionate business woman, as well. Fans might remember her earliest step into entrepreneurship, a high-end housekeeping service. Keep It Clean Atlanta is still a thriving enterprise owned and operated by Mimi. But the mompreneur recently broadened the scope of the company’s mission to include her new obsession, interior design.

Stephanie: So, what inspired Mimi Interiors? Has interior décor always been a passion of yours?

Mimi: It was, and I didn’t really know it [laughs]. Like, a lot of girls can go and shop for hours. I like to go in furniture stores, like Homegoods, and TJ Maxx. I love it! [laughs]

Stephanie: I recently saw that you’ve added a new brand. Born + Fed Label, are they Sunglasses?

Mimi: Yes, I did, June 26th we launched. It’s actually an Optical line! I am very excited about it. I wanted to sell something that I actually wear. I can vividly remember 4 years ago being at a restaurant trying to read the menu and couldn’t. My frames will come embellished with pearls, stones. My vision for my frames are classy, made for the everyday fly-girl. The great thing is that you can upload your prescription to have put into the frames.

Stephanie: That’s so awesome, Mimi! I’ll definitely be ordering a pair.

It is something about a woman who is confident, fearless and bold. Mimi’s ability to be a full-time mom/entrepreneur, and still do it with such style & grace, is definitely applaud worthy.

Stephanie: What advice would you give to someone who wants to quit their full-time job, to pursue their goals?

Mimi: Have a plan. You definitely have to have a plan before you quit anything. You need to have everything in order, and you need to know that what you’re doing is going to support your lifestyle. So, plan! Plan! Plan! Plan from A to Z. [laughs]

Plan. That’s advice from a woman who has pushed through countless barriers, and surmounted a checkered past to achieve the success that she and her daughter enjoy today. Mimi has fought and won battles that, according to society, should have ruined her. But she refuses to fold, and instead, flourishes in the face of adversity. As dramatic as it all sounds on paper, Mimi has actually lived it. And fortunately, she has found her place of peace.

Stephanie: How have you used your past as leverage?

Mimi: My past, actually everything that has happened to me has made me, and shaped me into the person that I am. So, that right there is leverage itself. I try not to live with regret—of course, it happens at times. I’m not perfect. But, you know, everything that I’ve gone through has either made me stronger or better. So, that’s that leverage right there.

mimi faustIn her newfound place of serenity, Mimi is incorporating plenty of self-care. She is protecting her peace as much as possible, and taking time to indulge in the things that bring her joy. Her interior design business was conceived purely because she took pleasure in all aspects of home décor; it felt good to her. She seems pretty enthused about DIY beauty products, as well.

Mimi: I like scrubs, so I’ve been making my own scrubs. One that I like, particularly is coconut oil, add baking soda…it’s so awesome. You do it on your face, and when you’re done, your face is just glowing and healthy, it’s so good. Another scrub is lemon juice, sugar, and honey.

Mimi says she loves that one for dark spots. The renaissance woman asserts that she’s really into “mixing things up” right now. She talked about a mixture that she recently created to restore moisture to her daughter’s hair, as well. She refers to it only as “the concoction”, and certifies that the blend is so good, that she has to bottle it up for close friends on occasion. Decorating homes, whipping up concoctions, and time spent with her daughter all contribute to Mimi’s happiness. But there are a few other self-care tools that keep her on track:

Stephanie: When you aren’t on camera, or busy with Eva, what are some things that you like to do to love on yourself?

Mimi: I like…I like to be quiet [laughs]. I just want to be quiet; or, if not just peace and quiet, I like nature sounds. I like birds, and at night I like to listen to the crickets. I love massages, rub my feet and I’ll fall in love with you any day [laughs]. I’m a simple girl, I love simple things. I love to cook.

Stephanie: So, what’s your favorite recipe?

Mimi: I don’t really have a favorite, but I like to bake chicken and make different concoctions and sauces for the chicken. I’m secretly a mad chemist [laughs]. I like to try different stuff and make different sauces for my chicken.

Stephanie: But you still keep it baked?

Mimi: Still bake it, yea. I don’t even know how to fry chicken. I have no clue on how to fry anything, fish chicken…

For those of you taking notes, hoping to one day shoot your shot with Mimi, so far you should have that she cooks, but doesn’t fry, sleeps to sounds of crickets, and needs foot massages…perhaps daily foot massages. Yep, write that down. She also requires one thing that all functional relationships require, good communication.

Stephanie: With your experience with love in the past, what are you looking for now? What makes you happy? We all want to see you happy.

Mimi: I am!

Stephanie: Well, tell us about it.

Mimi: I think good communication–and it is so cliché, it is…but it’s the truth. It solves everything. It’s so simple. I think we, as people make it so complicated, and it’s really not that complicated. If you really want to be with that person, and they want to be with you, it should be, just, an easy thing to do. I think a lot of times, back in my past, I was forcing the situation. If someone doesn’t want to be with you, and they’re just off doing whatever, then that’s just what it’s going to be. You can’t force anyone to do anything other than what they’re doing. So don’t force it.

Stephanie: Well I’m happy that you’re happy.

Mimi: I am, I am. I’m so happy.

Stephanie: Talk a little more about this glow that you have. What does happiness feel like?

Mimi: It’s refreshing, to wake up and not feel the stress of ‘what is my partner doing’ or not to have that worry about your partner at all…it’s just refreshing.

Stephanie: Going through this new phase in your life, what has it allowed you to learn about yourself?

Mimi: That I used to tolerate a lot of bullshit and I don’t want to do that anymore. It’s a gift and a curse that I can [take bullshit], but I shouldn’t have to do that. I want to just be happy.

I would always get into relationships where it was a struggle, where [I felt like] I can beat this! But you shouldn’t want to beat your relationship, it’s not a battle. Every time I would get into a relationship, and it’d be a battle, I would try to beat the battle. If you’re in a relationship, and you have to battle with your partner, something’s wrong.

mimi faustNow that Mimi has shifted gears in her life, her new lane is bound to rake in a new fanbase. She wants everyone to see who she is now as a total, happy, and fulfilled person. Don’t be distracted by her Vh1 persona. Mimi says that the show will portray her the way that best suits the network. If they only want to show her when she’s angry, then so be it. But who she really is, is Eva’s mom, loving partner, and successful business woman, Oluremi “Mimi” Faust.

Credits:

Photographer: Will Sterling
Stylist: Julian R. Lark 
Assistant: Adorr Jessie 
Team Leader: Chanel Scales 
Hair: Jimmy Duggins 
Makeup: J Denelle M. 
BTS Video: Eliot Jones (camera) 

For more stories like these check out www.Kontrolmag.com!

Celebrity Interviews

Being “Simone!” STAR’s Brittany O’ Grady (@brittanyogrady) Talks Being Biracial & An LGBT Ally!

With season three of STAR underway, Brittany O’ Grady, who plays the role of Simone Davis, is showcasing all of her talents while unpeeling the many layers of her character. In the last two seasons, fans have witness Grady effortlessly portray the very fragile, complex Simone but Grady says that tapping into her role is no easy feat.

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brittany o' grady star on fox

Written by: Kyree Shockley (@chroniclesofky)

With season three of STAR underway, Brittany O’ Grady, who plays the role of Simone Davis, is showcasing all of her talents while unpeeling the many layers of her character. In the last two seasons, fans have witness Grady effortlessly portray the very fragile, complex Simone but Grady says that tapping into her role is no easy feat.

“She’s evolve so much,” said Grady. “She was supposed to be borderline crazy –very different from who I am but it’s human for us to all change and evolve. Playing her [Simone] is a fun challenge I enjoy.”

Though there are major differences between Simone and Grady’s upbringing, Grady takes the similarities between them and uses it to convey authenticity on the show.

“Despite her negative past, Simone is very sensitive,” Grady said. “People underestimate her but she’s a lot stronger than what people think and I share that in common with her.”

One of the more significant similarities between Grady and Simone is that they’re both biracial. In the early stages of her career, Grady accepted roles playing Latino women but Star is the first opportunity Grady’s had to play herself. With the show success thus far, Grady is looking forward to taking some of her own personal experiences and exploring the possibilities of diving deeper into her character’s racial makeup.

brittany o' grady star on fox

“It’s hard to identify when other people don’t see you as you are,” said Grady. “I grew up in a diverse area but I was picked on. People told me I didn’t’ count as black and was called different racial names throughout my life. Then when I went to college, which is a private, predominately white, Christian university, it felt like I was in Get Out. I was tossed around by people’s perceptions and Simone has been through that as well.”

Even though Simone has experienced many ups and downs throughout the seasons, (the passing of her mother, sexual abuse, placed in foster care, and now a pending divorce), Grady finds Simone’s sassy one-liners to be one of her favorite things about her role.

“Simone is always bringing an edge,” Grady said. “She’s comedic, she’s fun and I like to crack up with the things that she says. It’s fun to have that side of myself show through her.”

Despite the recent turn of events, Grady says fans should expect Simone to move forward and make “a lot of personal wins” this season.

“She’s no longer stuck in her past,” said Grady. “I’m really excited about her tackling things that have more to do with her and not what others have done to her.”

In the spirit of moving forward Grady talked about where she would like to see her character go in the future and how she would like for Simone to grow in the seasons to come. And the two big things Grady would like to tackle are race and sexuality.

“I want to talk more about Simone’s race, how she feels about it and her sexuality because she’s fallen in love with men and women,” said Grady. “ I want to see their [FOX’s] explanation especially to an audience who may not understand it.

With her character possibly being bisexual and having friends a part of the LGBTQ community, Grady wants to bring awareness to the discrimination and issues many bisexual people face. She would like for Simone to express her sexuality without the stereotypical “flip flop/ confused” narrative but in a way that honors those that are affected.

“It’s one of my biggest purposes in life,” Grady said. “As an ally, I want to portray the bisexual experience the best way I can. One of my friends that I’ve had since I was 12, came out to me as trans during the pilot and she told me the first time she saw someone stick up for trans people on TV, it was me and that’s something that I will keep with me for the rest of my life.”

star on fox

At 22, Grady has seen much success and continues to be an inspiration to young actresses, especially those who are biracial and looking to her as role model. Grady’s piece of advice to those aspiring to be where she is: “let what inspires you, inspire you.”

“You don’t have to be put in a box,” said Grady. “The emotions and stories that you tell are way more important than what people want to perceive you as. Your race is who you are and it’s a part of you but it shouldnt let other people define your work or your ability to tell a story.”

In case you wanted to know what other projects Grady has in the works, be on the look out for her movie, Above Suspicion –at true story about an FBI agent who’s assigned to a small town in Kentucky, where he becomes involved with a local woman, leading to scandal. In the meantime, be sure to watch Grady on FOX’s hit show, STAR every Wednesday at 9/8c.

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Celebrity Interviews

On The Go! Keepin’ It Real from Michael Yo (@michaelyo)!

What does it take to be the best? That is the question we all want to know. For one NFL player turned media personality the answer rested in opting to be the best version of himself! That man is Michael Yo–media personality, actor, stand-up comedian, and host! Kontrol managed to snag some of his time in an interview that left us inspired and in deep admiration of just who Michael is. “I’m a good guy who’s happened to learn some pretty awesome life lessons along the way…”

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michael yo

Written By: Michael “Hey Mikey” Fanning 

michael yo

What does it take to be the best? That is the question we all want to know. For one college football star turned media personality the answer rested in opting to be the best version of himself! That man is Michael Yo–media personality, actor, stand-up comedian, and host! Kontrol managed to snag some of his time in an interview that left us inspired and in deep admiration of just who Michael is. “I’m a good guy who’s happened to learn some pretty awesome life lessons along the way…”

michael yo

Michael hails from the Great State of Texas, but is far from your traditional American cowboy. First, he is biracial, being of African-American and Korean descent. “When I was younger I was definitely Black and Asian, but people would always see me as Black, and I always identified as Black. I played sports and was athletic so I grew up as an ‘other’ by others’ description. It’s just unfortunate as a minority in America you have to deal with so many stereotypes.” Michael’s cactus roots have blossomed into actualizing his Hollywood dreams. “Man I am blessed to have gotten as far as I have and I definitely owe it to people believing in me, especially my parents. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, but there’s still so much more I want to do and achieve…Truthfully the grind never stops [he laughs].” Indeed, Mr. Yo is definitely on his hustle and grind with maximum efficiency these days as he is currently doing stand-up comedy in Kansas City, hosts a two-hour show on SIRIUS XM for Entertainment Weekly Radio called The Michael Yo Show, and hosting Bravo’s reality series , Play By Play. “It’s definitely a blessing to be booked [he laughs], but on the real it can be pretty demanding…I think the hardest part is being away from my family, but I know this is how I’m taking care of them so it’s all worth it because they’re worth it.”

michael yo

As aforementioned, family means everything to Michael. In fact he reveals his free time is all about spending time with them. “Downtime is about my wife and son. He’s 19 months old, and I love being a father. I was selfish until I got married and had him. But that’s what it’s all about, them making me into a better man all around.” He goes on to reveal that his personal life may soon be on display as Fox has picked up the pilot to a series surrounding his life! “I’m really excited about the project and I know it’s gonna be something everyone can laugh and relate to.” Yo’s series is a significant step in the right direction towards inclusion, as there are few Asian characters on American television. In fact, the highest grossing romantic comedy of the year, Crazy Rich Asians, was the first predominantly Asian film in nearly twenty years. “I think it’s just time for everyone to be represented on television and in the movies. The world is so beautiful and diverse. Why not be as inclusive as possible?”

michael yo

There is no stopping Michael Yo, or even slowing him down, he is clearly a man on a mission towards even greater heights of success. In fact, his comedy special, Blasian, is critically acclaimed and can be streamed from Amazon, iTunes, and other streaming platforms. Surprisingly he reveals that he was not always so sure of his career and even jealous of others’ success. “I was working at a radio station and my manager at the time heard me talking smack about another worker who got an opportunity I wanted and he pretty much just told me if I worried about my own career half as much as I did everyone else’s I’d be where I wanted to be. I really took that to heart, and since then I’ve been nothing but supportive of everyone around me.” He goes on to advise any newcomers to the entertainment industry to realize that “…no one makes it on their own, and to find that team or network of supportive people to have in your corner. Don’t compete with your friends, you need them, and when one of you wins, then you all win.”

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To Tame A Lyon! Meet Toby Onwumere (@toby_onwumere), The Newest Addition to Empire!

Hollywood is here FOREVER! The stages and the names change, but one thing for sure is that Tinsel Town will always be looking for talented and fresh faces. When that face also happens to be tall, dark, and handsome, the look is all the more exciting and tantalizing. Meet Toby Onwumere, a rising star that just so happens to meet the criteria of “tall, dark, and handsome,” and most of all talented!

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toby onwumere kai empire

Written By: Michael “Hey Mikey” Fanning

Hollywood is here FOREVER! The stages and the names change, but one thing for sure is that Tinsel Town will always be looking for talented and fresh faces. When that face also happens to be tall, dark, and handsome, the look is all the more exciting and tantalizing. Meet Toby Onwumere, a rising star that just so happens to meet the criteria of “tall, dark, and handsome,” and most of all talented!

toby onwumere kai empire

Toby is taking hearts and Fox’s Empire by storm as “Kai,” Jamal Lyon’s (Jussie Smollett) love interest and now fiancé! As Kai, Toby is doing groundbreaking work, as he showcases the life and love of a Black, gay, and HIV positive man against the backdrop of family drama, corporate sabotage, and ignorance. “I feel honored to play him [Kai] and bring his story to the forefront…It’s time to really inform people and push forward with representation and inclusivity, all while delivering a really unforgettable story.”

Toby is a first generation Nigerian-American, hailing from Dayton, Ohio and has always dreamt of being an actor. He counts his parents, Fidelis and Prisca, as being the driving force behind his pursuit of the arts as they allowed and encouraged him to do what he loves. “My parents were traditional, but not in the sense of what they expected me to be…usually when you’re Nigerian you the career paths your parents want for you are pretty narrow, you have to be like a doctor or lawyer, for them to do that is really amazing.” Toby admits he is stoked to be on Empire, revealing he has been a fan of the show since its inception. “Man I love it [Empire] I would be in class and thinking to myself I’m gonna be on that show one day, and here we are [he laughs].”

jussie smollett and toby onwumere empire kai jamal

Empire continues to be a ratings giant with no sign of slowing down in its fifth season. However, in an interesting plot twist the series has flashed forwarded two years into the future and we find that The Lyons are mostly in shambles. Lucious and Cookie continue to fight to win Empire back, Andre is incarcerated for Anika’s death, and Hakeem is unable to perform after a grave injury. Jamal, however, has flourished in his self-imposed exile to London, finding new label and love with Kai. Their relationship stands to be the strongest one we have seen for Jamal as Kai is empathetic, intelligent, and compassionate. Toby admits he and Kai are very similar in those aspects, but fundamentally different in others. “Well for one I’m straight [he laughs] and then I’m way too silly! Kai is more straight-laced and serious. I like to laugh and joke and be goofy.” Kai’s storyline is definitely a serious one as no shows have really shown a relationship like he and Jamal’s. Although the Kai’s HIV status has been a topic on the show, the larger phenomenon of him being with a partner who is negative and on PREP (via whatisprep.org, PrEP means Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, and it’s the use of anti-HIV medications to keep HIV negative people from becoming infected. PrEP is approved by the FDA and has been shown to be safe and effective at preventing HIV infection.”) “The storyline was meant to be more informative than anything else. People still have these notions about HIV/AIDS from the eighties and so many advancements have been made since then…the love between the two of them [Jamal and Kai] shows that everyone deserves love and can be loved. Kai just so happens to be HIV positive, but he really loves Jamal and he’s a great person. That’s what counts here love…The scene when they proposed to each other was really just magical and powerful.  It’s why I’m honored to play this character…this is really encouraging dialogue and I think people just need to be more open minded and educated.”

toby onwumere kai empire

Toby continues to look forward to the rest of this season of Empire and hints he has some pretty amazing projects in the works that he is not ready to share. However, he did reveal his holiday season will be international as he travels to Europe to bring in Christmas and the New Year. If 2019 is any bigger than 2018 was for him then we know he is about to be a household name! He advises aspiring actors to “Really study the craft. Take the classes and remain diligent. If this is what you want stick with it and never give up!” Catch Toby every Wednesday night at 8 PM EST on Fox’s Empire!

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