Tracey Edmonds obviously loves a challenge. Not only is she producing Deion Sanders’s Deion’s Family Playbook on the Oprah Winfrey Network, she’s dating the former football great as well. Formerly married to superstar producer-singer Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, whom she has two sons with, Edmonds quickly ended a “marriage” in Bora Bora to Eddie Murphy (which was never legalized in the U.S.). The 47-year-old Stanford graduate may often be associated with the famous men in her life, but she’s had her own career for some years now.
A successful TV and film producer, Edmonds was the executive producer of Soul Food, Jumping the Broom and Light It Up among others, as well as several reality series, including Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is. We caught up with Edmonds, who quickly made herself available the very next day after a request was made—with Edmonds, professionalism rules—and here’s what she had to say.
EBONY: How did you come to produce the Deion Sanders reality show?
Tracy Edmonds: Deion and I met briefly a couple of years ago. He reached back out to me, came to Los Angeles, and said he wanted to pitch an idea for a TV show. So we met, had breakfast. Deion was telling me all about his life. At that time, he was starting a charter school, Prime Prep Academy, and raising his kids. We decided to work together and develop a show. So it’s Deion telling his real life stories about raising five kids of his own, five children who also live with him. And now it’s about how he’s managing his relationship with me.
EBONY: So this was nothing that you planned or expected?
TE: We didn’t know each other, so we decided to go ahead and start working on this reality show. And we ended up becoming friends and developing a relationship. The network asked me to also be on camera. Originally, I was just going to produce the show. But the network thought it was going to be hard to tell Deion’s real life story if [I wasn’t] a part of it. So I come to Dallas every other week, and when I’m out in Dallas, I do my best to help him out with his kids that I love to death.
EBONY: What has proved more challenging, being Deion’s girlfriend or being the show’s executive producer?
TE: (Laughs) In Deion’s life, you never know what’s going to come up. You might have a crew showing up at one place trying to film something and meanwhile there’s something that jumps off over at Prime Prep. There’s a lot of moving parts constantly to Deion’s schedule. Then you have his kids in school, and you can’t film them in class that much. So juggling that and trying to get Deion’s schedule to coincide with the kids [is difficult].
Sometimes we have six different camera crews to follow them and all their activities. There’s never a dull moment. Relationship wise, Deion is the most amazing man ever and he’s been a true blessing in my life. He’s such a giving, generous, honest human being, and probably the realest person I’ve ever been in a relationship with. What you see is what you get, and he’s been an incredible man to be in a relationship personally. The biggest challenge is our geographical differences.
EBONY: Reality shows have a way of ruining relationships. Was there any hesitation to go on the show because of that?
TE: Everyone who knows me knows that my preference was not to go on camera. For years, I said I was never going on camera. I wanted to keep my life behind the scenes. We went to other networks and had three or four really strong offers. But they wanted to make it more of a couple’s show. We wanted to do a family show.
The only reason that I finally agreed to go on camera was that we landed at Oprah’s network and I felt safe. There were a couple of times where I was dealing with a particular family situation on my side of the family while the cameras were rolling and it started unfolding onscreen.
EBONY: You’ve been connected to some very famous men, but you’ve been a powerful producer yourself for some time. Do you think people lose sight of you as a businesswoman because of that?
TE: If I were to be completely honest, I would say yes. For whatever reason, there’s always been a lot of interest in the personal side of my life. I’ve always kind of gravitated to interesting men, and I’ve been blessed that they’ve been very successful men. Because of the men that I’ve been involved with, I get pulled into the press.
People forget that I’ve been working since I was 13 years old. I never stop working. I came from divorced parents and a single parent household, so I was expected to work during summer vacations, and I worked my way through college. Then I started my own business when I graduated from college. I never ever stopped working. The idea of a female being dependent on a man has never been my scenario. I’ve always independent and made my own money.
After my marriage, I was financially independent. I’ve never taken alimony, and Kenny and I don’t have any structured child support. Both of us kind of pay 50/50 for our children’s expenses. I continue to keep working to keep my kids in private school, and to keep our family vacations going. I’m just very blessed that I’ve had a very cool career and I’ve been able to produce quite a few TV shows and movies. I had a management company. I had a record label. I keep challenging myself on the career front to expand my horizons, doing what I love to do.