I feel like apart of me is constantly trying to protect her from writers who want to write negative things about her all the time. And itâ€™s really so strange to me because she is the sweetest person. For anyone whoâ€™s met her, they instantly fall in love with her because sheâ€™s got so much personality. She gives a great interview and a very fun person to talk to. Sheâ€™s very charismatic. But itâ€™s very frustrating and thatâ€™s what I try to deal with, with her.
The idea of the publicist in any fashion is to get coverage for its clients. And sometimes all coverage isnâ€™t good coverage. When youâ€™re working in the media, itâ€™s almost a slap in the face when that same medium turns on your clients; desperately wanting to â€˜sellâ€™ a story and drag them through the mud. As in the case of Tracy Nguyen, Associate Vice President & Group Director of 5W Public Relations. This power player is publicist to the Queen B of Hip Hop Lil Kim and Queen B Records. On the eve of Lil Kim: Countdown to Lockdown show premiering on BET, Tracy spends her day doing her own version of a countdown; as the hands of time swiftly spin closer to deadline, Ms. Nguyen takes the time to talk about her own professional and personal experience with the â€˜roller coaster rideâ€™ that is Kimâ€™ life, with The Black Star Newsâ€™s Tonisha Johnson.
BSN: Will fans see Kim in a different light now that her reality show is finally coming to fruition?
TN: Itâ€™s hard to get a grasp on any celebrity when you only see them on a stage or on the big screen. But to see her talking and dealing with these issues; itâ€™s very very interesting. Sheâ€™s actually very hands on with her business, which I think, people will be very surprised to see.
BSN: Gives us some â€˜hands on detailsâ€™.
TN: Well, I mean, obviously when you saw the part of her dealing with the music video issue; sheâ€™s very hands on, as far as the creative aspect of her career; the day to day dealings with it. Sheâ€™s not just someone that takes the backseat and letâ€™s her team make all of the decisions; she is someone that is very involved with everything, from the music, to the video, to the marketing, to just the creative aspect of it. Sheâ€™s definitely very involved.
BSN: On the first episode, you guys are a bit â€˜friendlyâ€™ with each other, trading â€˜wordsâ€™ here and there. Whatâ€™s your relationship with Queen B records?
TN: Weâ€™re like a family. Iâ€™ve been working with Lil Kim now for about 2 years and working with Hillary (Manager) and Gene (A&R Executive) and everyone. We have a very tight ship around Kim. Itâ€™s like a family. Iâ€™ve been with her, again, for about 2 years now and I handle all of Kimâ€™s day to day publicity. Whether it be from her fashion or just dealing with the crisis stuff from the trial. I mean, I handle everything.
BSN: In regards to the trial, how did you handle that? How did you take it all in?
TN: It was hard. It was a lot of lies. A lot of false rumors that I feel the media had created, exaggerated and blown out of proportion during that time. I felt at that time it was very very frustrating just because, I felt that, even though we were making some strides, the media would somehow try to find a way to misconstrue things. Or spin things in a negative way. There were some outlets that were very supportive of us and there were some that were running false lies all the time. Itâ€™s very frustrating; I mean, you canâ€™t stop someone from writing negative things. You can just only hope to provide them with the truth or at least provide them with our side and hopefully they can, you know, cover it and at least provide a well-rounded story. But it wasnâ€™t the truth all the time. So, during that time it was very emotional and stressful. And very disappointing at times. But itâ€™s always been that way with Kim. I think a lot of times people are veryâ€¦you know, I can have people sit and talk to her about her charity work and why sheâ€™d show up to a fundraiser event and theyâ€™ll spin it and theyâ€™ll want to talk to her about something completely off track. It had nothing to do with what the interview was really about. So, that can be very frustrating and then the next day reading something that they exaggerated.
BSN: Youâ€™re on both ends of the stick. Your job is the media. Getting people to take notice. But then the same medium turns the tables around. What did you feel about that aspect?
TN: I think in Kimâ€™s case, ’cause I work with a number of different clients, and actually with all of my clients, Iâ€™m proactively pitching them and shedding light onto what my clients are doing and trying to figure out the best opportunities for trying to get the message out there. With Kim I spent the most time just trying to make sure people had the accurate information. And really, just turning down opportunities that I feel just didnâ€™t make sense; like a reporter who was going to come in with a negative angle or who had written a negative story about her in the past. At this point just filtering opportunities with her. I mean, at this point, everyone wants to speak to her. Itâ€™s just a matter of figuring out and having a real good relationship with the reporter so they come together with a real accurate story. Because for some reason, I feel the interviews that we have done; there have been so many times that she has sat down and poured her heart out; Iâ€™ll give you a great example; Iâ€™m not going to say what the media outlet was, but itâ€™s one of the major weeklyâ€™s. They had come and pitched so hard. They wanted to do an in depth story about Kim, they want to make sure that it was very well rounded and accurate and we want to kind of just get to know who Kimberly Jones is. And the things that sheâ€™s gone through, the strides and all of her hardships and what she had to do to get here; I mean they gave me a very hard sell. There were other opportunities from other competitors and I felt this was the most respectful publication thatâ€™s out there thatâ€™s a weekly. So I had them sit down with her for an hour to do an interview. She opened up her heart. She talked about growing up in Brooklyn, her emotional state at this time; her relationship with her mother and her relationship with God. I mean she really went in deep and we also did a photo shoot with them. The story came out a week later. It was one page, 5 questions Q&A. They pulled a stock photo of her walking out the courtroom. And they headlines were something about her going to jail. And it was just a 5 question Q&A about the trial. That is one of the examples of dealing with her and press. I feel like apart of me is constantly trying to protect her from writers who want to write negative things about her all the time. And itâ€™s really so strange to me because she is the sweetest person. For anyone whoâ€™s met her, they instantly fall in love with her because sheâ€™s got so much personality. She gives a great interview and a very fun person to talk to. Sheâ€™s very charismatic. But itâ€™s very frustrating and thatâ€™s what I try to deal with, with her.
BSN: Howâ€™s Kim handling all of this? Have you spoken to her at all?
TN: Weâ€™ve been communicating. Sheâ€™s doing very well. Sheâ€™s very optimistic. Sheâ€™s been reading a lot. Sheâ€™s been reading a lot, sheâ€™s been writing a lot. Sheâ€™s taken on some extra hobbies like knitting and doing a lot of justâ€¦playing Volleyball. Sheâ€™s trying to just make the best out of a very bad situation. Sheâ€™s looking forward to the next phase and moving on.
BSN: Did she see the show before tomorrowâ€™s premiere or does she have to see it like everyone else?
TN: Iâ€™m not sure. I actually canâ€™t comment on that. Iâ€™m not sure if sheâ€™s been able to see anything. I know that before she went in, we discussed the show. She had the cameraâ€™s follow her around. But has far as handling business from while she is in prison; I donâ€™tâ€™ think that is something that she is allowed to do. Iâ€™m not sureâ€¦Iâ€™m assuming tomorrow is the first time that she will be able to see it if sheâ€™s allowed to watch it in prison. I donâ€™t know what they are allowed to see and what their channels are.
BSN: Do you really think the show will help her or hurt her?
TN: I think that maybe it will shed some light on the misconceptions. It was a very intimate two weeks where the cameras followed her around. It showed the different mental states that she went through. And hopefully it will kind of allow people to really get to know Kimberly Jones. Sheâ€™s a woman with a great sense of humor. Sheâ€™s a very compassionate person. Sheâ€™s a very small minded person. someone who takes her business seriously. I think it will give people an opportunity to really get to know her in a different way because a lot of what people perceive her to be is what they read from a third-party point of view. And sometimes when she gives interviews, they are not that accurate. And I think when you see things on camera and when they are actually coming out of her mouth, it just kind of gives you a clearer view of who she is and the type of person she is. And I think that unfortunately with the album, criticallyâ€¦itâ€™s one of her most critically acclaimed albums. I mean, the critics have said this is her best album to date. We got 3 and a half stars out of four from USA Today, 5 Mics from The Source, and the album, I think was 5 stars from VIBE. XXL gave it an XL rating. So, the criticâ€™s reviews of the albumâ€¦they were phenomenal and unfortunately with this situation, she wasnâ€™t able to promote the album, the way that any artist would, traditionally be able to. Hopefully, this show will give some the chance to listen to the music because obviously the music is the soundtrack to the show. And hopefully people will go out and support and purchase the album because again, really itâ€™s her best work to date.
BSN: Whatâ€™s your plan now and when Kim comes out of jail towards recreating her career?
TN: I really think itâ€™s up to Kim. We can sit down and talk about it. But we are all planning on literally, when she gets out; moving forward immediately. We all know that Kim is very anxious to get out and start working again. Sheâ€™s very excited about doing that.
BSN: If you could say anything to Kim what would you say to her?
TN: I would tell her to stay strong. That we miss you. We love you and everything. Everything that is being done right now is being handled and itâ€™s in good hands. Weâ€™re very supportive of her. We have always been there for her. And we always will be. And just to stay optimistic. We really miss her.
Lil Kim: Countdown to Lockdown premieres March 9 @ 9:30PM EST on BET.
Check your local listings.
Copyright Â© 2006 Tonisha Johnson
To subscribe to the worldâ€™s favorite Pan African weekly newspaper or to advertise please call (212) 481-7745. Send response to articles via [email protected]