Tamar Braxton is an energizing presence. When the multi-hyphenate (Grammy-nominated R&B singer, reality star, talk show host, fashion designer, and mom) recently came to visit the InStyle offices to talk about the latest season of Braxton Family Values, premiering tonight on WE at 9/8c, she had so many different projects to talk about it was hard to figure out where to start. But we hit all the bases—and got her to reveal her secret weapon in the kitchen. Read on for a preview of the fifth season of Braxton's family reality show, more on her Dancing with the Stars health scare, and how she balances it all with an almost-3-year-old at home.
InStyle: Let's talk about the new season—it seems like your mom is a big part of the stories we're going to see.
Braxton: Yes, well our parents are getting older and my parents are divorced. So my mom is single and that's one thing that we all worry about ... her being home by herself. She hasn't been in the best of health the last couple months. She usually takes care of herself and she's up and about—but recently she's faced some challenges where she shouldn't be by herself. And as her kids, we're here to take care of her. My sisters, who live in Atlanta, they want my mom to stay in Atlanta and Toni and myself want her to be in LA. because we feel like we can take better care of her and keep a closer eye. [In Georgia,] Trina and Tawanna live an hour away from her. I like to say this season of the Braxtons is more like the first and second seasons—it's my favorite so far. And we're still shooting. It's the story that never ends, right? (laughs) We'll be shooting until the end of August and then we go right into shooting Tamar and Vince.
Is there resolution at this point as to where your mom's going to live?
You have to watch!
Fair enough. What have you learned about communication over your five seasons of Braxton Family Values?
I've learned so much. I think the biggest thing is: Wait until someone asks for your opinion or advice. I'm the youngest and so I would often just give my unsolicited advice. And that's not always so good. I thought I was helping my sisters, but I was actually hurting them ... and I don't want to do that. So I've learned to hush up for a bit until someone asks me. I wait until they ask and then I give them the truth. My new rule is: If you ask me, I will tell you.
Do you have a similar dynamic on The Real, sitting at a table of women?
Yes. If I hadn't grown up with five sisters, I don't think I would understand that dynamic of five different women, five different personalities. They all remind me of my sisters. We get along so great and they're pretty much my best friends. There's some days that we agree to disagree and we all work on each other's nerves, but that's real friendship and that's real life. I look at it as girlfriend check-in hour.
How does music fit into this?
Music is my everything. My projects are my outlets. Now I'm ready to get back in the studio and I just can't wait.
Last fall, you had a serious health scare that forced you to pull out of Dancing with the Stars. What was that like for you and how are you feeling now?
Girl, it was the scariest moment of my life. It was so scary, I thought the doctor was playing a practical joke on me. I knew they were upset that I left the emergency room to go back to Dancing with the Stars. I know it sounds ridiculous but honest to god, I didn't think I was sick—I thought I had the flu or something like that. And then I thought I had pnemonia, so I thought, "OK, I'll get some antibiotics and I'll be good to go." I didn't know how sick I was. Then the doctor came in the room and said, "You have multiple blood clots—so are you finished dancing now? Are you done playing around with your life?" I had thoracic outlet syndrome—I had extra bones in my rib area and they had to remove both bones because they were compressing my veins and I was getting blood clots. I live a pretty healthy lifestyle—I exercise regularly and eat healthy, unless there's a Shake Shack around. So in my case, there was nothing I really could have done to prevent it, but I would still recommend everyone go to your doctor regularly and get their blood checked.
How has your son Logan made you better at your job?
He's just made me better as a person. I think right before Logan came into our lives, I was just very career-oriented, all about Vince and I—and now I'm really all about Logan. It's about being the best mom I can be. Being healthy and happy so I can be healthy and happy for him.
What were the values in your house growing up?
Prayer was a big thing in my family. Both of my parents were pastors and every Saturday morning we fasted and prayed. And I think that was amazing because you have to believe in something—it can't be all about you, you have to speak to a higher power, and lean on somebody and something. Instilling that in us at a young age really gave us something to believe in and aspire to.
How do you balance it all?
Since there's no sleep because I have a toddler, I've just learned to utilize my time very well. So if I'm in bed and can't get to sleep, I just read a bunch of e-mails and respond back to them. You'd be surprised, if you prioritize the things you need to do in your day, how much time you actually have left over.
On the other side of things, sometimes it must be hard to turn off after you're always in go-go-go mode. How do you wind down?
I eat! I eat and I cook. I love to cook. I like to please other people. Like the other day my friend Adrienne was having a Cinco de Mayo party and her boyfriend was like, "We're having tacos and everything, but I would love some enchiladas." So I made some chicken enchiladas for it. I'm pretty famous for them. I just got a pressure cooker and it's the best invention in life—I bought all of my friends one. So I can cook my chicken meat in an hour where it's shredded and moist.
What do the next six months look like for you?
It's exciting. I can't tell you because it's going to be on Braxton Family Values this season, but I can say it's something that I'm embarking on that I've always wanted to do. Yes, I have a clothing line, I'm a singer, I have a talk show ... but there's something else I'm really, really excited about. And it's coming soon. Then The Real's back in September and I'm about to start recording my new album, which my gut tells me is going to be my best ever. And Tamar Collection's fall line will come out ... I'm always excited about fall because of all the new shoes!