The travails of Tiny and Toya

Tameka “Tiny’’ Cottle, fiancee to jailed rapper T.I., stars in a new BET reality show with her friend Antonia “Toya’’ Carter. Tameka “Tiny’’ Cottle, fiancee to jailed rapper T.I., stars in a new BET reality show with her friend Antonia “Toya’’ Carter. (John Bazemore/Associated Press)
By Jonathan Landrum Jr.
Associated Press / July 1, 2009
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ATLANTA - Tameka “Tiny’’ Cottle wants to jump start her career while taking care of a house full of kids and dealing with her fiance, rapper T.I., serving time in an Arkansas prison on a federal weapons conviction.

Antonia “Toya’’ Carter is trying to get her life back on track after a tumultuous divorce from rapper Lil Wayne.

They are best friends, two women who can relate to parenting alongside two of hip-hop’s biggest stars. Now, they have united for their own reality show on BET called “Tiny & Toya.’’

The series of eight half-hour episodes, airing on Tuesdays, delves into the personal lives of Cottle and Carter, who are both seeking to define themselves professionally as individuals outside of their high-profile relationships.

“We’re trying to create our own identity,’’ says Carter, who was married to Lil Wayne for two years. “We’re trying to get our businesses up and running and just having fun - the way we live life for ourselves.’’

On the show, Cottle, a former member of the defunct ’90s multiplatinum R&B group Xscape, tries to manage three different all-girl singing groups. One of the groups includes her daughter and Carter’s daughter. She also attempts to open her own nail salon, located in suburban Atlanta.

The 33-year-old Cottle also opens up about her father’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease while attempting to maintain a household of five kids - two of whom she had with T.I.

One episode shows the morning when T.I. enters prison. Cottle says she speaks with T.I. several times each day and has already visited him - without their children.

“Just facing the day I would be without him, what it’s going to be like when all the kids are not going to have him around,’’ Cottle says.

“We have a lot of help. But it’s always different when Daddy says, ‘Don’t do this.’ They listen more. I have to help fill his void when he’s gone.’’

Cottle says T.I. doesn’t agree with her having a reality show, because he feels she doesn’t need to work.

“It’s not what he wants,’’ says Cottle, while sitting on the back porch of her suburban Atlanta home. “He wants me to be at home. He wants me not to work and just live. But my music career was so short-lived and there’s something still there I want to do creatively. I felt like when the opportunity presented itself, it seemed like the perfect time to do it for myself.’’

On the show, the 24-year-old Carter gets a book published about her life experiences as a single mother, her attempt to launch a bedtime clothing line for young girls, and dealing with her mother who is trying to overcome a drug habit.

“This is therapy for me,’’ Carter says. “I’m talking about things and correcting problems that affected my life.’’

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