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Producer Tracey Edmonds Discusses "With This Ring" and Balancing Business and Romance


by Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn


As the famously former wife of Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and ex-fiancée of Eddie Murphy, Tracey Edmonds knows a few things about the ups-and-downs of relationships – and on Saturday, January 24th, she gets to have a little fun with it as executive producer of Lifetime’s romantic comedy movie, With This Ring.


Based on the best-selling novel, The Vow, and starring Regina Hall, Jill Scott and Eve as three single women who make a pact to marry within the year, the telefilm explores the plight so many African American women face: How to get a ring on it.

Edmonds with Regina Hall on set of With This Ring

“These days there’s just appears to be this epidemic of all these fabulous women that have amazing qualities, talents but, for whatever reason, are single,” says Edmonds, also busy behind-the-scenes with her current beau, sports legend Deion Sanders, on the next season of his popular docu-series Deion’s Family Playbook, in which she co-stars.

“I definitely thought long and hard in terms of whether I was ready to put myself out to America in a relationship,” Edmonds says with a laugh. “But the story we really wanted to tell is the reality of what so many families and couples are facing. We wanted to show how two people who are hands-on single parents, and making that relationship work.”

While Sanders raises his family in Texas; Edmonds is with her two sons, Brandon and Dylan, in Beverly Hills. Despite growing up not far from the ritzy Los Angeles suburb, Edmonds describes her own upbringing in Carson as worlds away.

“My parents, had an on again-off again marriage,” she says. “So there was a lot of moving around when I was a kid because when they would break up, my dad would take a job in Las Vegas and I’d stay with my mom for a while.”

To help with bills, then 13-year-old Tracey McQuarn began filing during the summers as receptionist in the mortgage firm where her mother worked. She took the entrepreneurial route after graduating from Stanford University – where she had a combined psychology-biology major – joining her mom’s real estate sales and mortgage company, which the two moved to Newport Beach.

“I’d read Donald Trump’s biography when I was in college,” says Edmonds. “And he talked about how he branded the Trump name, on top of his buildings and hotels, and I started doing that when I started the real estate company. I branded myself in Newport Beach as ‘The Waterfront Specialist’, and put my picture on cards and fliers, and our company took off.”

She relocated the company to Los Angeles in 1990 – and in that first weekend, everything changed. “I was shopping at the Beverly Center, trying on a pair of shoes, and [the singer] Pebbles, came over and introduced herself, and she asked me if I was doing any modeling, because she was close to this artist, Babyface, and they were looking for someone to play his girlfriend in a music video.”

Even though she nailed the audition, an outbreak with the chicken pox kept her from appearing in the video. But another chance meeting led to her and Babyface becoming inseparable, both as a couple and in business.

“I bought Donald Passman’s ‘All You Need to Know About the Music Business,’” she says, “Because Kenny was a songwriter, everybody in the music business was coming to me trying to get to Kenny, but he didn’t have enough hours in the day to write all these songs everybody wanted him to write. I saw that as an opportunity for other writers to really get some song placements on the jobs that he wasn’t able to take.”

Edmonds started Edmonds Entertainment Group in 1993, and became a hit-maker in her own right; first with a publishing company turned record label, which produced a couple of successful artists and kept opening more doors. Soon she was being asked to produce sound tracks and supervise films, which led to producing a diverse roster of films such as Soul Food, as well as New in Town starring Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr. and Good Luck Chuck, starring Jessica Alba and Dane Cook.

Director Nzingha Stewart with Edmonds on set of With this Ring

One of a handful of non-writing African American women producers in Hollywood, Edmonds is keen on building a layered career in the business, now producing digital content through Alright TV, and as a co-host on Extra, where she gets to, beyond other things, plug her own projects – Hall and Gabrielle Union made appearances to plug With This Ring – and chat with famous friends, like Angela Bassett, on-air.

“I get to bring them on the show and talk about their lives and their projects,” she says, “and also to bring some diversity to the show as well.”

With This Ring airs tonight, Saturday January 24th at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime.
Extra airs weekdays; check local listings for times.
Deion’s Family Playbook returns this spring on OWN.

Photos: Lifetime
Lead photo: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn is a journalist and co-author of Swirling: How to Date, Mate, and Relate Mixing Race, Culture, and Creed (Atria/Simon & Schuster). She is currently co-writing the indie-feature, Lovers in Their Right Mind, a dramatic comedy exploring the romance between a black woman and an Iranian man. Connect with her on Twitter @JaniceRhoshalle.

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