Rickey Smiley keeps it one hundred. When the comedian is not giving his two cents on various pop culture topics on The Rickey Smiley Morning Show and Dish Nation, he’s hanging with his family. In its fourth season, Smiley’s hilarious docu-series Ricky Smiley For Real showcases the Alabama native’s personal life and his hands on parenting and interactions with his five children. With a memoir “STAND BY YOUR TRUTH: And Then Run For Your Life!” on the way, constantly encountering the never-ending challenges of fatherhood and his fast moving career, Smiley knows how to keep us tuned it.
Recently, EBONY.com sat down with Smiley to talk about his TV One docu-series, why he refuses to let his children have a sense of entitlement and what can we expect from his book.
EBONY.com: Ricky Smiley For Real is in its fourth season. When TV One first approached you with this opportunity to showcase both the personal and professional aspects of your life, what moved you to say yes?
Rickey Smiley: I thought it was a great idea. It was much easier than doing a scripted show because now we could do this show while we worked and it didn’t interfere with work. [Ricky Smiley For Real] is the work that we do and the stuff that we do in the community [and] being a dad. It was my first idea even prior to the sitcom that we had. I thought it would be better but somebody said, “Nah, let’s do the scripted.” After the scripted went for two seasons they came back and said, “Hey, let’s go ahead and shoot a pilot for it and let’s see how it goes.” We shot the pilot, they green lit it and here we are.
EBONY.com: A major component of this series is your relationship with your children. What have you learned about yourself as a father from watching the show?
RS: I haven’t learned anything as a parent because I pretty much stick with my parenting principles. I’m about as raw in person as I am on camera. I don’t change my position when it comes to parenting. I’m really old school. Now, as a comedian, I can watch my stand up and see things that I could have done better. But, as far as the parenting and the discipline and the structure that I give my kids, I would not change one thing. The only thing I’ve learned is to keep doing what I’m doing.
EBONY.com: In a recent interview you spoke about a divide in generations when it comes to parenting. You explained that a major issue that you’ve encountered is a sense of entitlement. How have you been able to combat that in your household?
RS: Oh yeah, entitlement. (Laughing) Last night my daughter was asking me to take her to get some Chinese food, and I asked her why she couldn’t go in the kitchen and take some meat out the freezer. I told her today that she was going to have to take some meat out. “You’re going to have to prepare a meal for yourself because you’re not entitled to McDonald’s, or Chick-fil-A, or whatever.” I said, “I’ll sit in here, and I’ll walk you through it, and you’re going to prepare some food today for the family.” This drinking tea, being lazy, and being this basketball wife mentality, I just don’t play that in the house. I don’t let them sit up and sleep in my house until the afternoon. No. It’s just good, old school parenting in the stuff that our young kids need to know. We need to start focusing on giving kids more of what we had as opposed to what we did not have.
EBONY.com: Your memoir, “STAND BY YOUR TRUTH: And Then Run For Your Life!” is out Oct 23. What inspired you to put your story on paper?
RS: I started out being a Big Brother. I was raising kids and helping young men in the community when I didn’t have anything. I was only working at Foot Locker and Showbiz Pizza. I was working those little minimum wage jobs and trying to make sure some of the little boys in the community had a haircut. It’s just a real story that you just can’t tell on Ricky Smiley For Real, or [a] radio show. You can actually put it in a book and give some powerful details about my life. My goal is to give somebody inspiration to get out there and make it happen. I hope every teenager gets an opportunity to read that book because it’s part memoir, part inspirational mixed with a little bit of funny. I think it’s definitely going to be a great read. I’m really excited about the book. I just hope everybody checks it out because there’s so much truth in there. It’s so real, and the stories are so rich. It was hard to put together. It was not an easy book to put together because there’s a lot of complicated stories in there. Your mouth would drop like, “Oh, my God, this brings me to tears.” It’s going to make you laugh. It’s going to make you cry. It’s going to make you think. It’s going to encourage you. It’s a lot, and I’m just blessed to have the opportunity to put it in a book. I’m just blessed to be here and be where I am. I can use things that I went through to encourage somebody else.
EBONY: As we continue through Season Four of Ricky Smiley For Real what can the audience expect?
RS: The main thing that people are talking about now is my 15-year-old daughter. She got a boyfriend. She’s asking questions about double standards. She’s saying, “Malik goes out with girls.” My thing is, I never let him go out on a date at 15. I don’t know where or who allowed him to go out on a date. That started some conflict. I let them go somewhere at 16. That’s just been my rules in my house from even my oldest son. How can they go out on a date at 15 and they can’t drive? I just get on them a little bit. I’m kind of a tough parent. No nonsense. I don’t let them wear heels. Once you get 17, 18, you want to start rocking you some little shoes or whatever and do your little nails, fine. But when 13, 14, 12 years old … Woo, I can go on and on all day.
Rickey Smiley For Real airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on TV One
“STAND BY YOUR TRUTH: And Then Run For Your Life!” hits bookshelves Oct 23.