Ronnie, of musical groups Bell Biv DeVoe and New Edition, and his wife Shamari, a founding member of Blaque and television personality, are a power couple in the American music industry. With fourteen albums released and myriad award nominations between the two of them, the DeVoe family has built a lasting legacy in hip hop and R&B.
Nowadays, the couple continues to build their entertainment empire and remain active in the film, music, and business space. In addition to recording and performing, the DeVoes are currently starring on VH!’s “Couple’s Retreat” and continue to make appearances on Real Housewives of Atlanta and BET Presents “The Encore”.
They are also passionate about community-building charities and initiatives close to their heart that promote united Black families and wellbeing. This year, they will host the fifth annual Married 4 Life walk, serving as ambassadors for the promotion of healthy marriages. The couple also serves as hosts for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation annual gala, and Ron serves on the board of Silence the Shame, a platform dedicated to promoting the importance of mental healthcare.
In conversation with EBONY the couple give insight into life with their adorable twins, their business acumen, and tenacity as a couple.
EBONY: What has been the most important factor in your marriage to operating as a team and continuing to thrive in so many spaces together?
The DeVoes: The fact that we are both entertainers helps. We understand each other’s career because we do the exact same thing so we’re already on the same page. Also, communication is key! Talking things out so we come to a full understanding keeps both of us feeling like the other person cares.
As a couple, you’ve been so open about your 17-year union and the ups and down of trying an open relationship on both “Real Housewives of Atlanta” and now “Couple’s Retreat”. How do you balance the exposure of reality TV and public perception while remaining true to your relationship?
We’ve been together 21 years and married for 16 years now. It’s easy to be transparent and vulnerable when you have a testimony. Because we were able to overcome our challenges, we know that our story can help other couples continue to value their commitment and strengthen their love bond by not giving up on their marriage. It’s super easy to tune out unwanted opinions because we understand everybody is not ready to hear the truth and go to higher levels in their relationship. So our testimony is not for everybody. So, those that our ready to change and grow in their relationship, will be inspired.
June is Black Music Month and you both have been in some of the most legendary music groups that have impacted the culture. What is your hope for the next generation of Black music artists?
First of all, the balance in the music industry is off. Everything is sex, drugs, violence, disrespect, etc… It’s sad! Especially when that’s the majority of what’s being promoted to black culture. Our hope is that the next generation of black music shows what it means to be in a meaningful relationship, to take care of your family and to be great role models for our future. I pray it shows us that we are all family and we need to be kind and appreciate one another.
On “Housewives”, Ron was such an incredible representation of an attentive, involved father. How important was it for you to show that side of yourself?
Making sure my relationship is intact and right with GOD, my wife and our kids, in that order, are the most important things to me. Ronald III and Roman the 1st are me and Shamari’s pride and joy! They are our family’s legacy and future. We pay homage to our parents and our ancestry when we pour into our kids correctly.
Also, we feel like we are raising the next generation of leaders, pioneers and survivors. There’s no way in Sam’s hell that I would be absent and not present and attentive for that. On top of that, studies show that children are more likely to succeed in most areas when the mom and dad are together in a thriving relationship while raising them.
The cards are stacked against them as young black males already! I’ll be damned if I’m not making sure they have every opportunity possible to use their gifts and talents to win and enjoy life while doing it.
You also balance family time with your thriving real-estate business. Can you tell us about how you developed your company?
My wife was my very first client as a real estate professional back in 2002. It’s now 20 years later and DeVoe Real Estate is still flourishing. On top of that, our partnership with eXp increases our footprint to all 50 states and 19 other countries. I always felt like “the world is my home,” so it feels great to know that we now have opportunity in so many other places.
As a couple, what was your biggest takeaway or lesson learned during ‘Couple’s Retreat’?
At the time of filming, we were still not in a position emotionally to deal with the pain from our past. Thank God for couples retreat we now understand that even as marriage ambassadors we still need marriage maintenance.
Ron, you are an advocate for mental health conversations and on the board for ‘Silence the Shame’. What inspired your dedication to being vocal on the subject?
Knowing what so many people around me are going through, including my wife, is what drives me. I see directly what anxiety, depression and other things do to my loved ones if not addressed in the proper way. So, when it comes to mental health and doing what needs to be done to take the stigma away and silence the shame, I’m all the way in as an advocate.
In some cases, people are being misdiagnosed, over medicated or not being treated at all for trauma experienced or hereditary things passed down for generations.
We must continue to shine a light on why it’s ok to talk about what we’re dealing with. You are not alone! Always know that it’s cool to be HIP: “Healing In Public…”!