“I had a feeling that something like this would happen because I'm already an auntie anyway,” is what Teyana Taylor said at VH1 headquarters during the press junket for her new reality show Teyana & Iman. She’s talking about the fact that at only 27, an age where may other millennials still haven’t figured their lives out, she is already a successful entrepreneur, wife, and model. Sans NBA player husband Iman Shumpert and their 2-year-old daughter (and Instagram star) Junie, Taylor would be more like a sister who has set a pretty high bar for the cool factor. She blew everyone away as the sexy star of Kanye West’s viral “Fade” video in 2016. Since then, she has launched an at-home fitness program called Fade2Fit; walked in a couple of shows during New York Fashion Week (and closed one with more explosive choreography); and even opened a nail salon in Harlem. She has let her 6.1 million followers in on her money movies via Instagram, sprinkling in photos of Shumpert and baby Junie, the family foundation she holds down in the way that only a Black auntie (and mama) can. Balancing the glitz and glamour of her career with the routineness of marriage and motherhood has made Teyana and Iman the unlikely new faces of parenthood in the social media era.
Those of us old enough to remember know that Teyana & Iman isn’t Taylor’s first foray into reality television. In 2007, she had an over-the-top birthday party on MTV’s My Super Sweet Sixteen and followed up her exposure with the catchy hit, “Google Me.” Her journey from industry teen to style muse to body goals to supermom has built a confident woman who has flipped the bird and her hair to the idea of a reality curse. “You can't make everyone happy. With that being said, all you can you do is focus on you,” she told me with only a hint of annoyance. However, I’m predicting that Taylor is going to be pleasantly surprised with the support she receives after Teyana & Iman premieres on VH1 Monday night. The premiere is a fun look at the behind-the-scenes life of the Shumperts and the gaggle of family and friends that help them run their home and businesses.
It doesn’t take an entire five minutes before Teyana is talking about her sexual appetite and the creativity she and Iman need to squeeze in quickies between their work and parenting duties. She frequently appears without her wig in stocking-capped glory when her life isn’t being meticulously organized by her momager to get her album done and tape segments of her fitness program. She is nothing if not a hustler. The couple misses each other when they’re apart even as they bicker when they’re together. Junie, who has over 260k Instagram followers herself, floats around offering a ball of cuteness that none of us really deserve. “I think this show is giving people the opportunity to dive in,” Taylor explained. “And see all the work that's being done in the spare time. It’s not just all fun and games, and it's really a lot of blood sweat and tears into everything that we do.”
Yes, Teyana & Iman offers a refreshingly loving family unit on a network that has sustained itself on the dysfunction of other Black family models. Taylor made that much clear. “We want to inspire young love — we want to inspire all love, honestly — but that young love, that young chocolate love.” However, VH1’s latest offering is also more more than that. In a moment where millennials are being blamed for a decline in everything from home ownership to declining toy sales, Teyana and Iman are putting a millennial spin on the traditional love story that many of us are rejecting. And if their millions of Instagram followers are any indication, not all of us have completely given up on that American dream.