or multihyphenate duo Teyana Taylor and Iman Shumpert, family is everything. They dream big, and it all starts with their girls (Junie and Rue). Raising two beautiful and brilliant Black daughters in the limelight isn’t easy—leading the pair to hustle hard, juggling marriage and parenthood while pursuing their passions. The NBA champion—whose trophy case now includes a mirrorball trophy after winning Dancing with the Stars–just wrapped the popular competition’s 30-city live show; he’s also juggling acting roles and various business ventures. While on the road for her recent The Last Rose Petal concert tour, Teyana was also hard at work on a slew of creative projects, including directing and acting roles.
Through the years, the stars have given fans a peek into their journey—from sharing glimpses of their lives on Instagram to bringing a much-needed dose of Black love to reality television.
In this first-person article, the pair get more personal than ever, sharing intimate details on Teyana’s health challenges after childbirth, their unique family dynamic, the viral TikTok video that went too far, and the legacy they hope to leave their children.
“Black love looks like the pain you share with someone else, so it’s not as heavy. It means unconditional love because you’re going to celebrate together when it doesn’t hurt anymore. It’s affectionate and unapologetic; it is bold and needed in a world full of hate. I love Black love.”—Iman
Raising Junie, A Strong Black Girl
“She sees her mom do a lot of things that are just bold. Whether it’s in fashion, whether it’s on stage, whether it’s in a quick snippet of an interview—it’s very bold and she watches her mom do it. So, for her to even try and emulate that at such a young age, it’s
our job to nurture that and to keep preaching that. What I love most about being a girl dad is the consistency my daughters have in making sure that I don’t harden my heart.”—Iman
“She’s so fearless. Junie has inspired me—even as a woman—in so many ways. I thought I was bold, but Junie is really just her parents, times three. People say, ‘Oh yeah, she gets it from [her] parents.’ No, Junie is Junie, and she has sprinkles of us throughout.
She is one of a kind. I love her power and fearlessness in being able to call me out like, ‘No, I’m not comfortable with this. I don’t want to do that. This is how it’s going to go down, mom.’ We let her express herself emotionally. We think that’s important. If Junie wants to be an engineer, then a drummer, or she wants to do ballet, and then tap, we will give her every little thing that she needs until she decides what she wants. We allow her to do whatever it is that her heart desires. And I think that’s what also keeps her respectful because sometimes when you hold on to kids too tight, when they get older, they rebel. Finding a great balance with children is very important.”—Teyana
Fashion Week With Junie
“Junie is the ‘it’ girl. She was invited to fashion week, and I was just her plus-one. Even just traveling with her to Paris—that was out of pure trust. I’m like, ‘Yo, I think my girl’s ready.’ When I didn’t take her to Dubai, she was like, ‘Mommy, how come you didn’t take me to Dubai?’ I’m like, ‘Because it’s a 16-hour flight. I wouldn’t think you would be ready for that.’ She was like, ‘No, I would just be getting my beauty rest.’ —Teyana
Dancing with the Stars Triumph
“Though I was training, I hadn’t taken the [basketball] contract that I was offered and I was basically playing a waiting game that I had played the previous year. I decided that if another opportunity comes, I’m going to do it because playing these short stints it’s like, ‘If the money adds up to do another job, I’m going to take the job that comes.’ That was my idea in my mind, to try and take the job and then be ready to go when they start signing people before and after All Star. So, I was going to play the waiting game, and Dancing with the Stars reached out because I think they thought I retired. And I originally wasn’t going to do it because I felt like that would be the feeling if people saw me on the show—that he’s just a retired player. Then, I found out my mom loved the show and she got super excited when I got on the phone with her. After talking with my wife, she said the same thing—‘That’d be dope, you should do it.’ Having that encouragement threw it over the top. But trust me, I’d never actually sat down and watched the show. Right before I actually went onto the production lot, I watched a couple of the shows and I actually was kind of nervous, like ‘I don’t think this is for me. Unless I have a tall partner, this is going to be pretty difficult.’” —Iman
“He’s a jack-of-all trades. I think it’s amazing that he can win a basketball championship, win a mirror ball trophy [on DWTS]—and then land roles in movies and television shows. That’s dope, that’s the real goal. It’s to step out of one box, to unplug from one socket and be able to plug into multiple sockets. That’s another thing that I always tell Iman to keep with him is ‘Never get stuck in one outlet.’ There’s too many of those around the house to be stuck in one by the kitchen.”—Teyana
“We have so much talent; so many people get caught up just doing one thing because they feel like that’s their destiny. This is it. I’ve never been that kind of person. I’ve always occupied my mind with other things that I knew that I was talented at, and right now I really love directing. Directing has been a major dream of mine for the longest, which at one point I put to the back burner. I put my acting to the back burner because I thought that the singing was just my destiny and that’s what I was supposed to do and that was it. So now, I’m enjoying styling artists, and choreographing, and directing, and helping other creatives that are like me. The difference is now, artists have me to see them and actually hear them and help them bring their vision to life; that’s important to me because I didn’t have that. Which is why I started my all-female production company, The Aunties. Being an artist myself, I am able to nurture them the way I wanted to be nurtured. The Aunties is about spreading opportunities and uplifting our peers. This summer, I filmed a movie called A Thousand and One with A.V. Rockwell and Lena Waithe—it’s an amazing story. I think out of all the movies that I’ve done, this is going to be my coming out. People will really take me seriously. Usually I’m in a lot of comedies, or a dance movie or something; but this film allows me to show my range. Since my retirement, I’ve been able to really lock in and be a method actor and just dial into my inner Viola Davis—I’m talking about the tears, the snot!”—Teyana
Working With the Iconic Dionne Warwick
“We’re doing a scripted series [about her life]. She’s put a majority of the creativity in the hands of myself and [my production company]The Aunties, which is amazing. She’s like, ‘Tell me the plan— that’s what we’re doing. I’m riding with you.’ Not only is she an icon, but she’s been in the game for so many decades. [I told her,] ‘I don’t see us being able to put all this greatness in just a movie. So, how do we give you seasons?’ I then decided that it should be a TV series, and she was down with it. So, we’re working on that. The next step right now is finding a fantastic writer. Because her whole story is written, she has these dope voice notes, so she’ll be narrating. So that’s another thing that I’ve been focused on during my retirement. It’s just been nothing but blessings. The moment I wasn’t afraid to open the door, the moment I wasn’t afraid to turn the page. I’ve been stuck in one box for so long when I had 10 other boxes lined up from jump street. I’ve been constantly told I couldn’t do it all, but I knew I could.”—Teyana
Mommy Duty While Working
“Mommy and Teyana are a 50/50 thing. My kids come everywhere with us. They are actually the life of the party. My photoshoots often become Junie’s shoot and Rue is usually somewhere stealing the show just because she’s cute as pie. My family brings joy to my work.” –Teyana
Iman, the Family Man
“People back home might be like, ‘Oh that’s L’Tanya’s son.’ If you’re a fan of my wife, then it’s ‘that’s Teyana’s husband.’ Or, it’s ‘that’s Junie’s dad. That’s Rue’s daddy. Look, he looks just like Rue. It’s always in association with my family. I have 65-year-old women come up to me and say, ‘I just love you. You’re a great dad—and boy, you can dance!’ Kids come up to me and tell me they watch our [reality] show, they have no clue
that I even play ball. I’m so many different people to everyone. But it’s cool.”—Iman
“After two kids, when I’m taking time away from them to fly over here, fly over there, and work out four to eight hours a day—because I got to do all the recovery stuff as well—I at least have to bring home that NBA guarantee of ‘okay, for the year Iman will be in Brooklyn.’ Now Junie’s school can get set up and we have rules. Daycare can be arranged—there’s a system in place. I felt like at the moment when they were doing the 10 day NBA contracts, I’m kind of doing a childhood ‘chasing my dream around’ thing. And it’s unfair to my kids. It’s unfair to my wife when she’s waking up and turning on ESPN and watching it like, ‘Well he won’t know but five minutes before it comes on ESPN, where he’s going to be playing. They’re discussing the man, but there’s no control for us.’ You just sit there and then five minutes before [the announcement] you’ll get notified ‘The deal went through. Can you be there in an hour? Get to the plane—you’re going to play.’ So, it’s like I wasn’t on a team. And I felt like—’If I’m not on a team in training camp, knowing that, for this year, we’re going to be here, I’m trying to advance this team to go far in the playoffs and we’re trying to get a shot at a title, I feel like I’m being selfish with a childhood thing that I want to do. Instead, I can stay in shape and still wait for that right situation to come up. There’s nothing but time right now for me to just continue to work on my body and get healthy because a lot of the reasons that I didn’t have a contract were because of some injury history that I had. So right now, it’s just me taking the time to get my body all the way right and wait for the right situation to come up again. Because I’m only 31. It’s not like I’m 40. I’m 31 and now, at a year-and-a-half off. So, I’m hoping that even when I do try and come back and get something done, as far as that paperwork we can get back in the league and do something.” –Iman Shumpert
On the Rumors Following Teyana’s Hospitalization
“These types of rumors and lies hurt the most because I take pride in being a mother and would never be that irresponsible. I’ve never used drugs a day in my life, nor do I smoke, and only drink occasionally. My health issues were never a secret, we actually outwardly shared them with the world on our reality tv show, We Got Love. The show captured my health complications after my second pregnancy. I had to have emergency surgery in the middle of filming because there were small lumps found in my breast. Fortunately, they were not cancerous. However, the thought of the cancer scare with the lumps in my breasts, and the thought of my kids not having me around, was scarier than childbirth. Just the overall thought of something happening is one of my worst fears. So, for someone to take that and make it a joke is extremely hurtful. It makes me emotional thinking about it. Both of my pregnancies were incredibly difficult because I had cholestasis, a rare liver disease that causes bile to build throughout the bloodstream, causing extreme itching and preterm and or stillborn birth. This is the reason why both of my children delivered a month early. Pregnancy in general puts your body through a lot of stress. Being a mother in itself is a lot of stress. Although people look up to me for maintaining my career and still being able to be a mom and a wife, it’s really not easy. Till this day I still struggle with postpartum depression. Touring with two kids and doing 90-minute shows night after night on top of meet & greets right after, could cause anyone’s body to break down. That was simply what happened to me. Nothing more, nothing less. Just because we are public figures, and whether we choose to have nannies or not, we enjoy having our children in our presence. Straight off stage I’m in bed with my babies. There’s no room or energy to focus on anything else, besides jumping back into Mommy mode. A sweet letter pinned to my fans in Connecticut turned into something very nasty and heartbreaking. I say that because my oldest, Junie, is coherent enough to understand TikTok, which is unnerving. To read the comments on my page being flooded by people’s assumptions of me and my family and creating stories and scenarios that doesn’t exist and never have, I will ABSOLUTELY ALWAYS respond and protect the integrity of my family. Especially if lies are being told.” —Teyana
“If she did coke, why would I be cool with that? Why would I not care about my kids enough to say, “Yo, you can’t be around my kids?” It’s disrespectful in so many ways that people don’t think through. How would everyone just be cool with this lady doing this with two kids on a tour? Like, you think our kids wouldn’t see it? You think no one would know that if someone was overdosing? Just the way it was broken down I’m like, bro, I cannot believe this is real. Like we’re waking up to this. Like we’re really having a conversation about a TikTok?’ I don’t know where people get off. I live a real life and that’s really my wife, these really are our kids, we really love each other, and we’re really going to go hard.” –Iman
Pursuing Legal Action Against Bloggers
“I absolutely intend to pursue legal action—not because I’m looking to win a ton of money—but, merely because people have to start understanding that this is not ok! Their malicious actions and recklessness need to heed some sort of repercussions. Intending to attempt to ruin someone’s life for a story is just simply not ok. I’m not your clickbait. PERIOD!” – Teyana
“For me, it’s like a helpless feeling, because no matter what we do as far as a narrative, when a story like this already has legs, I’m not changing people’s minds with what I say.As an artist, If I get 300 messages about it, she’s getting 30,000 messages about it. So,
it’s a little bit different [for her]. She walks around and people are staring at her differently. [As for myself], I really don’t care if you’re staring at me: I could grill you back and sort of give off an energy where it’s like, ‘Ah, let’s leave him alone today. He doesn’t want to take a picture.’ But Teyana is an approachable person. People don’t only want to come up to her and take a picture. They want to have a conversation. They want to make sure she’s okay. They want to hug her. They want to talk about her kids. If a story like this is floating around, this is something that would weigh on her. So, when she articulated that to me, it did make me want to say something, do something. As we discussed it within our household, it [decided] we need to press them legally, we need to handle things aggressively. I just think that it’s crazy that we’re in a year that this is real. Someone can put a story out on this and whether it’s true or not, it’s going to have whatever effects on the people that are in that story.” —Iman
“I would love to say if we both stop working that we have a bunch of stuff that runs itself and has money coming in whether we know about it or not. We’re good. Our kids are good. Our family is good. That’s what we focus on. I want my legacy to be that of a winner and one that my family is proud of. I was raised a certain way and promised my father that I would push the needle further than him. I want my offspring to do the same and I want their future to be a reflection of my legacy.” –Iman
“We’re working to build generational wealth. We’re young and what I respect about Iman and I’s dynamic is that we empower and push one another to be better versions of ourselves all across the board. I love that our relationship goes beyond just support—we hold each other accountable to be greater. We are the example for our girls. And that’s our mentality: there’s always a new goal, a new dream, a new narrative that we want to create for our family and our legacy. –Teyana