The key to reignition for the career of a certain Claudette Ortiz has undoubtedly come in the form of popular TV One franchise ‘R&B Divas: LA’.
The spinoff of its older Atlanta sister, the show – on the wings of songbird co-stars Lil’ Mo, Kelly Price, Dawn Robinson, Michel’le, and Chante Moore – has been thevehicle for the network’s highest ratings. Ortiz hit a particular high note with fans and after our exclusive chat with the Jersey-born songstress, we see why.
Dishing exclusively to That Grape Juice about her path back to the spotlight, those pesky City High rumors, and new Pharrell-produced music on the way, our chat quickly revealed that we’ve only just begun to see what Ortiz has in store.
Tuck in below and we think you’ll see what we mean…
That Grape Juice: Fans are still raving about R&B Diva’s spicy reunion show and its many surprises. What were some of your favorite moments?
Claudette: I enjoyed the whole thing. I liked that Wendy Williams touched on some pretty good questions that some people would’ve been afraid to ask. So, that made things very interested.
TGJ: What did ‘R&B Divas: LA’ show viewers about you that they may have not otherwise known?
Claudette: More of my personality and how I’ve grown as a woman and mother. The respect, love and kindness I have for other people and my artistry.
TGJ: Now, one thing Kelly Price has been noted for saying is that the show’s editing casted herself and other members in a light that wasn’t fair given the amount of original footage. What are your thoughts on that?
Claudette: There is a lot of editing involved, but ultimately they can’t create words that don’t come out of your mouth. Things you’ve said and your behavior is just that…your behavior.
Yes, editing can place a face you didn’t make in reaction to a comment. But, that’s the network’s job – to make it entertaining. Some of what Kelly is talking about I wasn’t there for, so I can overall understand where she’s coming.
TGJ: You’ve clarified your position about your individual relationships with former City High members, but what are your relationships with them now?
Claudette: Well, my ex husband [Ryan Toby] is someone I will deal with on a regular basis because I have two children with him. There are disagreements at time, but like every other relationship that goes into divorce, there can be difficulties.
But, for the most part, we co-parent the best we can. As far as Robbie is concerned, I haven’t really spoken to him since 2003. I haven’t had any type of positive conversation with him since I was 16. I believe he’s doing well.
TGJ: Ok, let’s talk music. What is in the works right now?
Claudette: Right now, we’re working on an album and enjoying opportunities that came from the show. I want to talk about positive things and the things I’ve gone through over the past 11-12 years. I”ve been through a lot – ups and downs- and I’m working to make things that are relatable to people.
As far as producers go, I’ll be working with Rico Love and possibly Pharrell [Williams]. Jerry ‘Wonder‘ Duplessis as well.
TGJ: Any particular label we should expect that from?
Claudette: No, not right now. We’re still exploring our opportunities. But, we are recording!
TGJ: Now, as with many interviews, we have a segment called “Five From Fans” where we received five questions from our readers for you. Are you ready?
Claudette: Yes, I am!
TGJ: 1) What or who inspired you to pursue music as a career?
When I was 4 year old, I heard ‘Songs In the Key of Life’ by Stevie Wonder. That did it.
TGJ: 2) You’ve talked about wanting to act in the past, but what types of roles appeal to you?
Claudette: Believe it or not, I like action roles. I also like the “strong woman” types of roles.
TGJ: 3) If you could tell your 22 year old self anything, what would you?
Claudette: I don’t have too many regrets about my 20s. But, I guess I would say: “Your 20s are short and going to be difficult, but plan ahead.”
TGJ: 4) What advice would you give any up-and-comers in the industry?
Claudette: I would say keep whatever your faith is, stay strong in it. Keep good people around you and always make sure you look over your contracts with a fine toothed comb.
TGJ: 5) Any chance of a City High reunion?
Claudette: Nope (laughs)! Absolutely not!
TGJ: We’ve asked about music and movies, but what else is in the works?
Claudette: We are working on an album and exploring opportunities coming along with that and possibly Broadway!
Interview by: Quinno Rashad (That Grape Juice US)