Affectionally known as “J. Rich” and “K. Russ,” Juliannah Richmond and Kimberli Russell sat down with Ballertainment for a candid and refreshing discussion about their friendship, professional endeavors, motherhood, and lives as “basketball wives.”
Married respectively to former NBA players Mitch Richmond and Bryon Russell, the ladies are shining examples of how hard work and dedication to family and self can lead to true fulfillment.
The Lady GM: Tell me about the origin of your friendship. How did you two meet?
Juli Richmond: “How long ago was it?
Kim Russell: [Laughter] “We talk about this all the time.”
KR: “I forget when we first met.”
JR: “Did we meet in Utah?”
KR: “I think we met in Utah! And [Juli’s youngest son] was born.”
JR: “Our little ones are like brothers.”
KR: “They are 12 and 13 now, so, at least 12 years.”
JR: “We met each other before that though.”
Quickly, it became clear that the “when and where” of the beginnings of their friendship was inconsequential. They are true blue, and there is no value or timeframe that can placed on that.
Eventually, the ladies ended up living in the same area just outside of Los Angeles and they instantly formed a bond of friendship and trust; sharing mommy duties and making moves in the world, as a team.
One such move is WOVA — the Women of Vision Alliance. It is a non-profit organization founded by their publicist, Bernadette Holder. Kim and Juli joined forces with Bernadette and expanded the “vision,” if you will. Soon, a weekly radio show was born that the ladies host in L.A.
You recently changed the name of the show from WOVA Cafe to WOVA Lounge. What sparked the change?
JR: “Look at it.” Juli beams and makes a gesture to showcase the new studio. We walked in and we were like, ‘this is a lounge,’ it’s a little more sexy”.
KR: “We didn’t want that cafe name anymore. We wanted to bring men in. For so long we were only interviewing women. Its like, have a lounge? Get a couch. We think the men would like that better.”
How beneficial have your appearances on Basketball Wives Season Two been to the success of your radio show and your causes?
JR: “It was beneficial as far as opening doors for us. I don’t think we showed what we wanted to show; the unity we have as wives, the camaraderie. That wasn’t shown, but I think it opened a lot of doors for us to reach women who are doctors, lawyers, or stay-at-home moms doing different things with their organizations and such. We’re able to give them a platform to showcase that.”
KR: “We were kind of hesitant about whether we wanted to do [Basketball Wives] or not. But, I’ve always looked at it as an opportunity to bring something else. Even if we were only on air one time, it would bring something else. I prayed for that. My goal before even stepping onto the show was to move towards bigger things. I thought, ‘the kids are older now, its time for me to do my own thing.’ For so long I had been a stay-at-home mom, doing things with Bryon, but behind the scenes, like running the foundation. If the show did anything for me, it gave me more confidence. I’ve always been confident, but it gave me more, to stand out in public. Now I have people calling me for advice.”
KR: “Fans. I’ve had people fly here to meet me to work out. I love fitness and being empowered. Beauty from the inside out is what I show. That means being healthy, being fit, keeping your hair done, keeping your look together. All of that. I tweet about it sometimes, and from that we’ve gotten so many fans. The show allowed us to have a voice.”
Do you have any plans to produce your own reality programming?
JR: “Right now, we’re gonna look at whatever comes to us and weigh the options. We’re open to everything. Kim and I just want something positive to come of this; but, even in a negative situation, if you grow from it or learn from it, its beneficial to everybody.”
KR: “I’d like to see WOVA Lounge on t.v.! I would definitely do another reality show, but in my own way. If someone would accept me for me, I would do it again.”
What other business ventures are you involved in?
JR: “Hopefully soon, we will shoot our pilot for Circle of Friends. Its about four women who attended college together.”
KR: “Two of us are married and two are single.”
JR: “I’m an advertising executive and Kim is a psychologist.”
KR: “Which fits me well, because I studied that in school. The roles fit both of us. Bernadette wrote the script. She suggested we check it out to see if we liked it and wanted to be involved. We loved it. She has casted it already and we love the cast. She’s in the process right now of meeting with different people to take a look at it.”
What kinds of hopes, dreams, and ideas do you have for the WOVA Lounge brand?
JR: “We definitely want to see it on television. I would love to have a talk show similar to The View, but just with the two of us. [Laughter erupts.] We’d be presenting new topics, enlightening people, learning from each other, and having other people learn from us.”
KR: “We both feel like there are so many people that the world doesn’t know about and we found them right in our own phonebooks. From this [radio] show, we’ve gone deeper into our own friends lives and found out they were phenomenal women. Through WOVA Lounge we want to showcase some of these awesome women (and men, Juli adds) who have awesome charities and foundations. They aren’t looking for attention, but people should know.”
What are some of the keys to your success as mothers and wives?
JR: “Listening and communication, and it goes both ways. I’ve been married 19 years now, and I’ve always told my husband, ‘listen, listen, listen,’ but I’m learning that I need to listen too. And, the same with my kids — my mom has been visiting for a while and she says, “Julie we have to sit down and have dinner.” Growing up, we sat down and we had dinner. Now, with the kids going to practice and with my husband in and out of town, its harder to get that time, but you have to, because days go by and weeks go by and you don’t know what’s going on in someone’s life. I think that is whats most important.”
KR: “I agree. Family time is important as far as keeping us together, bonding with our children, taking that time to sit without the t.v., without the cell phones. As far as my marriage with Bryon, confidence is very important. He’s a busy man, he’s doing his thing, he doesn’t stop. He’s very confident, and when I’m confident, we vibe well because I’m not chasing him. I’m doing me and it’s so much better. Stepping out and doing my own thing gives me room to grow and he sees that in me and he loves it. It’s attractive. When women do their own thing, whether it makes money or not, it keeps a marriage going.”
Without question, you are both qualified to serve as role models. Who are your role models? Who do you look to for inspiration? Juli, your mom is here.
JR: “Yes, I look to my mom.” (Juli’s radiant mother was present during the interview.)
KR: “I look to my mom as well, but I have an older sister who is eight years older that I look to. My sister has been through everything that I’m going through and she shines. She just began a new career and she keeps it moving. I’ve followed behind her my whole life. She’s a huge role model for me.”
JR: “For me it’s not just one individual person. Its people who exude confidence without being cocky or arrogant; a person who is who they are, flaws and all. Everyone has them. I like to say, ‘it is what it is.’ You can be inspired by anybody.”
Fittingly, their catchphrase for WOVA Lounge is “It’s not just talk, it’s grown and sexy.” That is exactly who Juli and Kim are and it was a pleasure to get to know them both.