The six-part series chronicles the turbulent upbringing and promising career of one of today’s most promising R&B acts. Starting in her hometown of East Oakland, California, viewers discover how the hip-hop soul singer escaped the pressures of the inner city, and later returned to sell out venues and headline her own cross-country tour.
“I don’t know what they are going to get out of it,” Cole, 24, told Black Voices about the viewing audience. “I don’t know. They are going to get whatever they get. I can’t tell you. I think it’s a nice show, I do.”
On the James Dubose-helmed series, the platinum-selling artist, who topped the R&B charts with a trio of hit songs over the past year (including the Gregory Curtis-produced ballad ‘Love’), discusses her mother’s battles with drug addiction, her sister’s life as a prostitute, and her childhood spent in and out of foster care.
“Nope,” she replied to the question of having trepidation about exposing so much of her self to the masses — this early in her career. “Nope!”
Throughout ‘The Way,’ the pint-sized spitfire engages in touching reunions, drama-filled interviews and displays a no nonsense business attitude. From judging a hilarious ‘American Idol’-like talent competition to visiting transitional housing for orphaned teens, Cole exposes a seldom seen side to celebrity life.
“When people see it, they cry,” BET President of Entertainment Reginald Hudlin told Black Voices. “They are so moved. They are so touched. They are so inspired by her drive to lift herself out of where she came and go to the next level. And that’s great when you can find a really honest story about a person who is determined to help herself and help those around her.”
Cole, who seems excited about the show and the feedback, said she had conversations about doing a TV show in the past, but when BET approached her about doing a reality show “we went ahead and went on with it.”
The music oriented basic cable network, which experienced record-breaking numbers with Lil’ Kim’s ‘Countdown To Lockdown’ series last spring, is taking a proactive approach to what many thought to be a fading television genre. ‘On Wednesday nights, The Way It Is’ precedes ‘Soul of A Man,’ which centers on the trials and tribulations of former chart-topping thug rap icon, DMX.
“We’re definitely going to be doing more of this,” Hudlin added.
Cole, who just finished headlining a spring tour, is the new face of Akademiks Ladies 2006 Fall/Holiday advertising campaign. She also graces the cover of “The Sexy Issue'” of ‘Vibe’ magazine, which arrives on newsstands next week.
“I be having problems with things like that because the photographers be wanting you to give them what they ask for and that ain’t my personality,” she said of the sensual photo spread. “I got a lot of other things on my mind right now. You know, it takes a lot to be sexy. You gotta go ahead and get it together chile.”
Cole is readying the release of her sophomore CD, which her publicist said can be expected this fall. “I want to do a lot of growing on this album,” Cole said. “Who don’t? I know. I want to get into learning how to actually do a real show and become a performer.”