By: Paige K. Mitchell
Will Packer dives into the streets of Atlanta in efforts to unravel the truth about finding out if Black professional singles are, ‘Ready To Love.’
‘Ready To Love’ is an unscripted series on the Oprah Winfrey Network, where 20 women & men gathered under the common umbrella of fighting to find love. While hosted and counseled by Thomas ‘Nephew Tommy’ Miles. Successful Black men and women in 30’s and 50’s navigate throughout an interesting process of connecting with others with the intent of finding love.
Millions throughout the country gathered around their television screens to see if everlasting love can be found in front of a camera.
But... the best way to figure out what happened behind the cameras is to travel inside the minds of the cast members.
Front Paige News had the opportunity to interview DJ Stormy, Ashlee Atkins, Tiffany Kirk, Melinda Ruff, and Shea Pegues.
You can’t stop reading now. This story is just getting started!
DJ STORMY, 39
The weatherman predicted a strong gust of wind, as DJ Stormy brought her positive energy and kindhearted spirit to the cast.
DJ Stormy is an International DJ, with unique fashion style, tall (5’9), with tattoos.
“Being a part of Ready To Love, has been an amazing journey. You have a group of successful Black people, who are in the prime of their lives. They have experienced hurt, break-ups, and divorce,” DJ Stormy said.
“My type is usually tall dark, and handsome but I was open to the experience with an open mind, “ DJ Stormy said.
You would think DJ Stormy would have no problem finding love, as she so beautifully hits the scene for a living as a DJ. But she says that sometimes makes it harder.
“I am so ready to be a wife and a mother again. Being a step mother brought me so much joy,”
DJ Stormy said.
She opened up about her deal breakers and deal makers.
Overly materialistic- attempt to sell themselves on what they can do or what they have.
Loves a manly man. Preferably mature (w/ salt and pepper).
Okay with blending families.
MELINDA RUFF, 45
Very successful and stunning woman that paved the way in her career of medical device sales. Melinda opened up with us about how she is not discouraged, but yet encouraged by how she still believes in love.
“We tend to see all sorts of happenings in the media with breakups and divorce and Atlanta has a harsh reputation when it comes to dating. It’s hard, but I am hopeless romantic. I believe there is someone out there for everyone. I am not moving from ATL, and staying hopeful,” Melinda said.
Many wander what made the women choose this route in efforts to possibly find love.
“I didn’t want to deal with applications and online dating. I felt like this opportunity would provide an overall learning experience if not anything else. I learned so much about dating and myself,” Melinda said.
Melinda and Aaron shared a heated moment together in episode 4.
“Aaron is a good guy and dad. What we see on TV is the edited version, there is depth to him. Just obviously not the guy for me. I found out he wasn’t who he said he was or what I thought he was. It opened up my eyes to things I may be doing wrong in dating,” Melinda said.
Melinda believes in keeping her head and heels high, while holding tight to her no nonsense approach. She believes women are beautiful and independent, and independence shouldn’t hinder dating possibilities for women.
Melinda said, “I don’t believe in a woman being too independent. We need to get rid of that terminology.”
Melinda chimes in on her thoughts about dating in Atlanta.
“It is catastrophic dating in Atlanta. It really is tough. Especially coming from a two parent home, and wanting to experience that. But it’s important to not waiver from my standards and morals. And I am a praying woman that believes that true love will come. I believe there is a good man out there for me, and my 24 & 28 year old nieces look up to me so I want to strive towards being a good role model,” Melinda said.
Ashlee Atkins, 31
Ashlee is considered a fan favorite of the show, with a personality that instantly draws you in!
“I found out about the casting call for the show online. A friend posted it, and funny enough I decided to actually apply. I didn’t expect to hear anything back, but a couple months later I did an interview over the phone - and after that was invited to an in person audition,” Ashlee said.
Ashlee said the turn out of people that came to audition was tremendous (over 500+). She said she was there for 8 hours!
“Audition day was 8 hours long and they also did background checks and talked with our close family and friends. The process of getting on the show was serious. They really wanted to find good cast members,” Ashlee said.
Once everything checked out, she received the official call that she was selected to be on the show!
Ashlee said, “I was open to doing the show because first of all ‘why not?’ (Lol) What do I have to lose? I have tried it all- online dating sites, social media, sliding in DMs, and nothing was working.”
The Tennessee Native, speech therapist, and aspiring entertainer was here for the lights and cameras!
“Being on the show placed me in the environment of such awesome people. I’ve never been around so many people who have their lives together, and all they were lacking were love within a romantic relationship. They took the right steps within being a successful professional, but not so much when it came to their personal wants and needs,” Ashlee said.
Ashlee is fun and adventurous.
“Everyone is so rigid about finding that one true love that they forget about their own personal happiness and having fun along the journey,” Ashlee said.
Ashlee said she loved this experience because it allowed her to jump into the passenger seat of her own life- and she learned so much.
• ill management of funds.
•Doesn’t believe in God.
•Mental, Physical, Emotional Attraction.
• Ambitious- Ready to jump.
•Wants true love.
Shea Pegues, 44
Shea also known as Chilli from group TLC’s twin sister captivated the audience by her brains and beauty. But we cannot forget about her no nonsense approach, and how Shea does NOT play!
“Dating isn’t easy in Atlanta, but don’t believe the hype. I personally know quite a few good men here that looking for something real. We just need to slow down, relax, an allow things to come,” Shea said.
Shea believes we live in a microwave society where everyone is speeding in the fast lane.
“People just need to slow down. Anything you rush typically doesn’t turn out right. Finding love within others and ourselves takes time. I always believed that God was going to send me someone in the most unlikely way,” Shea said.
She believes the show was more so about compatibility verses competition.
Shea said, “I’ll be honest. I thought the show was going to be some BS. But to my surprise, it wasn’t. People close to me were very supportive throughout this experience. Especially my son. He thinks I am the coolest mom ever, and one of the realest people he has ever met.”
During the show Shea and Mike shared a heartfelt moment where Shea and Mike talked about the possibility of having children. Shea opened up about the trials and tribulations she faced as a single mom.
“I feel like viewers got the wrong idea from the show. I am not absolutely opposed to having a child again, but I am very cautious about if/who I have a child with. I want it to be an enjoyable experience, and not the stresses of what I felt in the past. I’m in love with my son, but it was hard being a single parent,” Shea said.
Shea is the owner of IDAP printing compnay in Atlanta, and is excited to embrace what is to come next in her life.
Tiffany Kirk, 41
Tiffany Kirk is the accomplished Vice President & Founder of Lifers Inc, Community Development Manager, owner of nonprofit organization, and teacher. Tiffany is multifaceted in helping and educating people.
Fun Fact: she recently moved to Atlanta in 2013. And now taking on the big screen.
The fierce Tiffany Kirk talked to us about how the cast did not see a pre- screening of the show. The cast watched the show unfold every Saturday along with viewers.
Tiffany said, “One of my biggest takeaways from this moment is how much I learned about myself. I have learned to insert a bit more patience in the process of dating. It was very interesting watching myself go through different episodes and emotions.”
She believes it is quite difficult dating in Black Hollywood.
“When I saw it was a show with Oprah and Will Packer involved, I felt it was a concrete sincere project. So I followed my adventurous spirit and pursued the show,” Tiffany said.
Tiffany opens up about having her son at 17, and how her son’s father plays a huge role in how she has navigated her dating life. Which is why accountability and dependability is extremely important to her.
“I rather be single for the rest of my life before I settle for something that doesn’t make me happy or fill my spirit,” Tiffany said.
Tiffany says she was truly her authentic self throughout the 8 week show.
“One of the best things that came from the show is the bonds that women made,” Tiffany said.
Tiffany inspired women everywhere with the beauty of being a strong Black woman.
Thank you Will Packer and Oprah for producing not only a show, but an educational experience that sparked important dialogue by pulling back the curtain on struggles and triumph in dating.