The mechanics of reality programming can be way more interesting to me than the actual storylines on the show. The things that make a good series, a fascinating cast member, and the relationship that producers and cast members have with television networks represents an entirely new ecosystem within the entertainment industry. Politics and identity add another layer of complexity to this whole endeavor. For someone not willing to consider all of these moving parts, it’s easy to assume that there are no more layers to pull back on someone like Sky Days, the outspoken personality on VH1’s Black Ink Crew who has spent the past five years letting it all hang out.
Over the course of five seasons, Sky hasn’t been afraid to show anger, joy, or skin on the show. She has invited viewers to join her for everything from skinny dipping to plastic surgery. The result of this openness was an additional casting on Scared Famous, and a new manager title at the Black Ink: Atlanta tattoo shop. Now, heading into the sixth season, which premieres tonight at 10 p.m. on VH1, Sky is taking us on a new personal journey: motherhood. Sky was a teen mom to two sons who chose to release custody of her kids and allow them to be adopted when they were both still toddlers. Now, she is starting the process of reconciliation with them. It’s 15 years later, and with her newfound fame, she is also facing negative press criticizing the decisions she made regarding her children.
I was lucky enough to chat with Sky ahead of the premiere about her career in reality, her love for plastic surgery, and her rocky start on a path to parenthood.
Refinery29: I see that you’ve been loving Atlanta. I went to grad school there and I felt exactly how you do, like the world opened up to me.
Sky Days: “Yaaaas! I love ATL shawty!”
How are feeling about yourself and your body since getting work done?
“I love that shit. That shit bomb as hell! I love surgery. I love my body. I love going to the gym to keep that body up. I'm just thankful that I'm looking the way I always wanted to look now.”
Why do you think there's still so much stigma around women getting plastic surgery when so many do it?
“I don't think it's too much of a stigma. Me and my girls go get Botox just because it's lunch if we have a wrinkle on our heads. I feel like there used to be such a stigma before. The topic was so hushed secret. Now it's just more out there. It's about how you want to put it out there. Me personally, I put out whatever surgery I do because I remember looking at magazines and looking on shows and being like, 'Her duck lips are all perked and her face isn’t even moving!" And then I come to find out all these hoes got fillers. So it’s just like everybody is fake. Everybody is pretending, so I like to let people know what it is. I do what I do because I'm happy I'm able to do it. You know, do it within your capacity.”
From Instagram and first looks at the show, you were able to reconnect with at least one of your sons. What has it felt like to reunite with your children and what that process has been like?
“I love both of my children. I'm happy I was able to reunite with both of them. Whatever the capacity was — you see on the spoiler and commercial they have out now what it is. One went better than the other. But I'm happy that I'm able to meet both of them, and it is what it is. I'm happy that the world is going to see it because we’ve been on this journey for a very long time.”
Have you experienced any shame from people who felt like you were neglecting your responsibilities for having such a public lifestyle?
“[Laughs] Hell no! How does anybody know about my kids? Because of me, right? Because I put that story out there. So you think I care about somebody's opinion [or] what they’re writing on a page or a blog? Whenever anyone knows about these children it's because I put this out there. I wanted to bring awareness to adoption, not necessarily to my children, you get what I'm saying?”
“Therefore, it is what it is. It's out there, and I brought awareness to adoption, especially in the urban community. And I was happy to do so because, like I said, where I come from, we are raised with the kids in the household. But now, we see what it is, everyone knows about my children because of me. A comment about them and a comment about taking care of them... These are men. [chuckles] They're my kids, but they're men. You know that right? They're 18-plus."
Was that an intentional decision to wait publicize this journey until they were of age to make decisions on their own about they wanted to engage?
“I didn't want their faces in the public eye, from my perspective, until they were 18-plus. I didn't even want to disturb their life until they were 18-plus. Even with them being out now I didn't even want their faces on social media. It is what it is. I'm handling motherhood one step at a time. This is a journey for me.”
You are a very open and vulnerable person. What makes you so bomb on the show is your willingness to put it all out there.
“Thank you my love.”
I know that’s what comes with the job. What is it like to be not only fun and outgoing but to also have to portray so much emotion in public for the world to see?
“On Black Ink I'm not a tattoo artist. I'm a personality. I put out there who I am. Good, bad, and different. Things are hard to see and things are hard to watch, but I put myself out there in this way because I want people to see that it's alright to be vulnerable. It's alright to be uninhibited. It's alright to be confused. It's alright to not know what your next step is going to be. And sometimes your friends are going to be the people that help you. I'm just thankful for the platform that Black Ink has given me. I'm thankful that I'm able to put my journey out there. I do it for the people that I'm helping versus the people that are going to criticize me and talk bad about me. I don't really care about them. The DMs I get from the people that I touch, that shit means so much to me. I love putting myself out there for the people that feel like they can be themselves more. They’re not the only people that go through it. People know my struggle.”
Do you think there are differences between how women of color, especially Black and Latina women, are portrayed in reality TV? Or just urban reality in general versus other kinds of shows in the genre?
“I don't think it's a color or race thing. I just feel as though [producers] work with what we give them. Period. That's life. Everybody is out here to make shows. We out here to make TV. If you’re giving them the TV you want to give them, in the capacity you want to give it — Black, white, Spanish — it doesn't matter, they're going to work with it. So it's about how you want to perceive yourself, no matter what color you are.”
What do you do to recharge and for self care when the cameras aren't rolling?
“I bring my ass home. Whenever I'm able to come home and be in Atlanta I'm thankful. I bring my ass home and just relax. I make sure my home is comfortable so I don't have to leave. Make sure the fridge is stocked. Make sure I have my Corona Light. I make sure my movies are up, everything is clean, candles are up, and I'm relaxed. I will not leave my house when I come to ATL. I'm in this house one week out of the month so I try to relax when I can.”
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