- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Flipboard
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Tumblr
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
Kandi Burruss can’t escape the good news — the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter is having the best week ever: She scored an Emmy nomination on Monday and earned a Tony nod on Tuesday, while the 15th season of The Real Housewives of Atlanta returns Sunday.
“I’m overjoyed right now. This is kind of unbelievable,” Burruss told The Hollywood Reporter. “You know how you’ve been speaking things into existence in your life and praying for it and doing all that. But when it actually starts happening in a major way, you’re almost like, ‘Whoa, is this happening?’”
“To have the two nominations happening back-to-back within 24 hours — it was just unbelievable,” she continued.
Burruss, a member of the platinum-selling R&B group Xscape, won the best R&B song Grammy Award in 2000 for co-writing TLC’s pop culture hit “No Scrubs.” As a producer, she’s getting closer to EGOT status: The 46-year-old picked up a Tony nomination for best revival of a play for August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson and a Southeast Emmy nomination for La Musica de la Familia, which is about Grammy-winning Latin jazz musician Tony Succar. The nod is in the Spanish – Historic/Cultural/Politics/Government/Societal Concerns category.
In an interview, the entertainer, who also stars in Showtime’s The Chi, talks about her new nominations, the dramatic return of RHOA, the writers strike, songwriting for Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake as teenagers and more.
You really are having the best week ever.
It is wonderful. I’ve been telling everybody for years now that I’m going to get the EGOT. But I know half the people that I said it to were like, “Yeah, OK, girl, whatever.” Now it’s a real thing. I feel like all the praying, all the angels up there that have been working for me — it’s just all coming together and it’s kind of overwhelming.
You’ve written songs, produced and acted — it sounds like you have multiple ways of winning an Oscar, right?
Honestly that is the way that I looked at all of [the awards shows]. I’ve always been a p2erson where I never really just got stuck on, “Oh, I have to be the star of something” even if I’m producing something myself. Right now, my husband and I, we just produced a film, but we went into it saying, “Well, I don’t feel like I should be the star of our first film. Let’s let somebody else be the star.” I don’t have to be in the front.
So yeah, coming into how I would look at going after the next, the O, I’m definitely like, “OK, I can act, I can sing, I can write songs, I can produce, I can do all that.” So let’s figure this out.
As producer for The Piano Lesson, what did your role entail?
As a producer, you are really responsible for a lot of things. The financing of the show, all the bells and whistles. For some producers, it depends on how much they want to be involved. For me, I wanted to be very involved — as far as the marketing of the show, we were a part of the casting of the show … making sure you get investors. It’s a lot that goes into it that people don’t understand.
Has navigating the Broadway industry been different than TV and music for you?
Yes. I think the Broadway world is a lot smaller, so it wasn’t easy to get into. I really was kind of clueless. I knew I wanted to, but I was like, “How do I go about getting into this world?” And it was a blessing that I did connect with Brian Moreland. He had reached out to me a long time ago about coming to see Thoughts of a Colored Man when they were doing it off-Broadway. And I didn’t go. And then it came back around and I was like, “Oh, OK, well maybe I should do this.” And it was going to be my first time producing and we decided to work together. And it was an amazing experience working with him. And now we decided that we’re stuck like glue. Now we’re working on a whole bunch of projects together.
The project you’ve earned an Emmy nod for is one you didn’t let people know about, right?
Nobody knew about it. It’s for public broadcast, PBS. But it’s about Tony Succar. It’s him helping his mother live her dream of becoming a music artist. But he’s a Grammy winner. He’s a Latin jazz musician. And the way I got involved with this project is my friend and my attorney, his name is Doug Davis, as well as our other friend, Kabir [Sehgal]. Kabir is on the same goals that I am on. So Doug has always been trying to connect us to work together on a project. And this is one that Kabir was like, “Yeah, he’s worked with this musician and this will be a good project.” So that’s how that came about.
I didn’t know where this project was going to take us. Obviously I have a love for music, so it was kind of easy. But I didn’t know that it was going to get us here. It is kind of a docu-follow of Tony in his journey with his mother. Obviously, I’ve done docu-follows before, but this is a different type. This is not your average reality TV. It’s a documentary about the journey of this family, and it’s a real, heartfelt music project.
And to cap off your week, The Real Housewives of Atlanta returns Sunday.
You know, honestly, I didn’t even really think about the fact that the Housewives comes out this Sunday. But you’re right. I mean, I guess that’s kind of crazy that it all happened in the same week. I was so caught up in these two nominations that I forgot that the show is airing this week as well.
What can we expect from this season?
These women tried to come for me from day one. And it was really tough for me because I was coming straight out of filming that SWV-Xscape show (The Queens of R&B). And that show was stressful, very stressful. Anytime things are happening with my group it is stressful, simply because we grew up together. It’s very personal. And the drama that happens is very real for us. And it doesn’t stop when the camera shuts off.
So me coming into this new season, I had a lot of drama going on that had nothing to do with these girls. So when they were adding their mess on top of that, I was ready to explode. Really. You know how you can be pushing people’s buttons and you don’t even know what they’re dealing with — that’s basically what was happening.
How’d you deal with all that? I’ve seen reality show drama, but the SWV-Xscape show felt deep and personal. How is the group right now?
The drama’s very much still going on. Right now it’s just Tamika, Tiny and I doing shows. We’re doing lots of shows, so obviously that’s very unfortunate to say the least. We filmed the SWV-Xscape show and … then I went straight into starting season 15 [of RHOA].
So you’re going to see me have a few pop-offs, not just one. It is going to be multiple. The fans crack me up when they say stuff like, “Oh, redhead Kandi is coming back.”
With reality shows, do they offer some kind of mental health check-ins?
Yeah. No, that’s not part of it. They’re just there to catch what’s happening in our lives. So if we choose to set our own selves up to get some help, then they’ll follow it. But they’re not doing it for us. But I wasn’t the only one going through things. Believe me, it is a lot that happened during season 15. It was a lot of stuff that happened in the blogs. Unfortunately, Drew’s dealing with things and all the girls got some stuff going on. Not just me, but I’m just speaking from my own personal experience.
So this season is action-packed. And we had some good moments where we did connect. Well, somebody had described it to me as we got further into the season where it started feeling like the Talls versus the Smalls, where it was kind of divided.
How is your relationship with SWV after filming?
I haven’t spoken to anybody in the group since, so I can’t really say that it is good or bad. I know that people say that they’re not so happy. I don’t know. I choose to just let that go. It’s like, “OK, it didn’t work out. We’re not going to tour, so it’s not going to work out. OK, cool.” For me, it was always just strictly business. I never was trying to take personal jabs at them. It wasn’t personal for me. Because honestly I love SWV. And I hate that they kind of took it personal, but it wasn’t meant for them to take it personally.
Have you listened to LaTocha Scott’s gospel album, The Invitation: A Conversation With God?
Are you finished filming this season of RHOA?
We’re done filming.
Are you also filming The Chi, or is that done filming?
Chi is still happening, yes.
Do you have any thoughts about how the writers striking at the moment?
Well, I appreciate what they’re trying to do. I mean, as times change, you have to update the rules and regulations. With these streaming services, we have to make sure that people are still able to benefit from their work. So I respect what they’re doing and hopefully everybody will come up with something that’s fair for everybody, so that we can continue coming up with creative things and have good work and make creative, fun shows.
You’ve written songs for Destiny’s Child, ‘N Sync, Pink, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, TLC, Whitney Houston, Usher and more. Is there ever a song you wrote for someone else that you wish you kept for yourself?
No, I never have any regrets about any song that I gave away. Because I feel like you have to give away great songs in order for people to want you to keep writing for them. If you only keep the good ones for yourself, then what would make people want you to write for them?
Have you reflected on the fact that you worked with a lot of these icons early in their careers, like Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, Pink and the others?
Yeah. I think that’s the blessing of it. I think at the time I ended up on multiple diamond albums as a songwriter, which is a big deal. People don’t really sell diamond anymore. That means multiple people that I worked with and the songs that I wrote were on albums that sold 10 million or more copies. So they were iconic then, and now they’ve just transitioned into bigger and better or different. I feel like my life has transitioned into a bigger, better, different space.
And now to be able to say I’m Tony-nominated and Emmy-nominated in the same week, that’s extremely huge. I’ve had different moments in my life that are in different areas where I’m equally as proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish. And when I look at them, it’s like when you look at people that you went to high school with, some of us from the class, we blew up from high school — that’s how I kind of look at it.
Are there any other new projects you’re working on?
Right now we’re working on the revival of The Wiz back to Broadway. And my husband and I, we’re working on some more movie projects. Right now, we’re shopping the one we’ve already done. I’m working on some music things as well.
Did you always have this entrepreneurial spirit?
Yeah. I’ve always been pretty good at maintaining money. My mom always told me, “Hey, you got to have multiple sources of income.” And then I was buying a lot of financial books when I was a teenager. Because our group, we had got our first record deal when I was 16, so my goal was to not be one of those stories you hear about child stars who end up being broke. That was always a fear for me.
You’ve done some much and you’ve checked so many boxes. What other goals do you have for yourself?
I definitely want to do better about finding the balance of being home more for my family. And that is such a topic, right? I mean, I have mom guilt just like everybody else. So I definitely want to do better at finding balance. That’s a goal.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day
More from The Hollywood Reporter
Taika Waititi, Eva Longoria and Niecy Nash-Betts Talk Leading the Diversity Charge at The Hollywood Reporter’s Raising Our Voices Luncheon
Tallulah Willis Opens Up About Coping With Father Bruce Willis’ Dementia, Says She’s “Known Something Was Wrong for a Long Time”
Sharon Stone Discusses Challenges With Getting Work Since Her Stroke, Rails Against “Anti-Woke Bullsh**” at THR’s Raising Our Voices Event
Harassment in Hollywood
Los Angeles District Attorney Decides Against Bringing Charges in Armie Hammer Sexual Misconduct Case
Boston University President Accuses 2023 Graduates of “Cancel Culture” After They Boo David Zaslav During Commencement