R&B Diva Deluxe:<br />
Angie Stone Schools the Young Guns

Prepare to meet Angie Stone. The real Angie Stone. Not the Angie Stone you thought you knew—the one who sang love songs so sweet and painful you had to run out and get some of whatever it was she was crooning about. (Good or bad.) No ma’am. This Angie Stone has evolved.

She says the world kicked her when they found out she and super sex symbol D’Angelo had fallen in love in the mid-1990s. What would make a man with abs like that—all greased-up and sexy in his music videos and sounding like a new millennium Marvin Gaye—fall for a chocolate-coated woman who topped the scales at 200 pounds?

It nearly crushed her. But starting tonight, Stone costars in the second season of TV One’s R&B Divas, and she’s ready to show the world who she is, in her best light ever.

EBONY: You’ve done reality TV beforeVH1’s Celebrity Fit Club. But this is a different show altogether. Was it therapeutic?

Angie Stone: What I bring to the show is experience. I’ve been in this business since 1979. A lot of these girls were teenagers or even younger than that, and they don’t have a clue of some of the things that they’re dealing with. Because when you’re going through it, there’s no way you can know what you know—what I know—30 years later.

What I bring to the dynamic is, I know what you don’t know. I see it because I’ve been where you are already and I’m still surviving. The reason I’m still relevant and a survivor is because I learned from the people before me. There is a message to the madness. And one of the things is learning how to get out of your own way, knowing when to keep the car on the road and always remain a first-class act, if to no one but yourself.

EBONY: What’s your A-storyline going to be on this show? There’s so much to tell.

AS: I’ve got a bunch of people telling me, “Why are you doing this show? You’re still relevant. These are has beens. Why you doing this?” I’m taking all that luggage on my back and walking through the door saying, “Hey, why are you here? Do you belong here? Have you accepted that you’re yesterday’s news?” All of that’s running through my head. When I walk through the door and I see a bunch of women cursing and screaming and crying at each other… I’m not that. I’m not even a part of that. But I’m here to set an example.

You’re meeting an Angie who has moved on in her love life, Angie who has moved on as a mother, as a grandmother, as a friend, as a teacher, as a role model, as someone who just absolutely loves the Lord.

EBONY: Does that make you the life coach of the second season?

AS: I would want to say that I’m a life coach or somewhat of a promise in tomorrow’s future for these young ladies, but it gets quirky for me too, because I get challenged sometimes. I have women that go to my defense because they feel like, “How can you disrespect Angie Stone?! She’s older than all of us and blah, blah, blah!” And I’m looking like, “OK, I ain’t that much older than you!”

EBONY: You’ve used the phrase “getting out of your own way” a couple of times in this conversation. Tell me about the time you felt like Angie Stone got in the way of Angie Stone.

AS: There have been several situations. Falling back down to the bottom and struggling now to survive is a painful life lesson. I remember when Mary J. Blige did Carol’s Daughter—she took a leap of faith. She was like, “you know what? I’ll do it, I’m Mary J. Blige, let me put my name on this.” Boom. Next thing you know Carol’s Daughter is the biggest thing.

I had the same opportunity for Brown Skin. I had a doctor call me and say, “You are beautiful, your spirit, your energy, your smile, your struggle and you still have flawless skin. We want you as the face of our Brown Skin. And we don’t have any money right now, but we’re willing to cut you out and make you a partner for a percentage of our company. How do you feel about that?”

At the time, I needed money, and I could not see past my needs for what God was aligning me for. So of course—in my selfish, thievish mentality of, “I think they’re pulling my leg, they gotta have money,” blah, blah, blah—I passed. Lo and behold, I’m laying in my bed one day and bam, a big commercial come on for Brown Skin. They got it launched and it’s all over the TV, everywhere, all the time, boom boom boom boom. And I’m looking everywhere like, OMG!

That was a time that I needed to get out of my own way. ’Cause now I still need money, the vehicle for people to see me as the face of a product that