Josie Harris is finally ready to speak.
Harris, 32, is the ex-girlfriend of boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. - the one he was convicted of beating in front of their children in 2010. At the time, Harris said that he hit her many times in the head withhis fist and threatened to kill her. Floyd later pled guilty to a misdemeanor of domestic violence and ended up serving two months in jail.
After years of barely saying a peep - she didn't even testify against him in court - Harris is telling her story and on her own terms.
On Jan. 29 at 9 p.m., TLC premieres its new series "Starter Wives," which features Zakia Baum (ex-girlfriend of Jermaine "Maino" Coleman), Cheryl Caruso (ex-wife of mobster Phillip Caruso), Monica Joseph-Taylor (soon to be ex-wife of Aston "Funkmaster Flex" Taylor), Liza Morales (ex-girlfriend of Lamar Odom) and Tashera Simmons (ex-wife of Earl "DMX" Simmons and mother of four of his children.)
Before the premier, Harris talked with me about Money Mayweather, forgiveness and why she doesn't want to be the poster child for domestic violence.
Why do a reality show now? You've been so guarded from talking before?
The timing. For a really long time, I was not comfortable with what type of vehicle I wanted to tell my story, and I think that TLC is such a great network, that they really know how to tell a story and get the woman's voice across and in a very sophisticated way. It's perfect timing and with the perfect station.
The last we did hear from you, you said you forgave Floyd and that you guys were going to work together to co-parent. Are you guys in a good place right now?
We are in a good place right now. I can't speak on the fact of what lessons Floyd has learned, personally within himself -- he would have to tell you that -- but you know what? I've learned a lot. That was a very hard time. I chose not to testify against him … but due to the evidence that was put before the judge, she was able to make a decision and she based her decision based on the evidence. We definitely are in a better place and we're co-parenting and we're not together.
Was it easy for you to forgive him?
You know what? That wasn't our first fight. I loved him before he was Pretty Boy Floyd; I loved him before he was "Money" Mayweather. I love Floyd. As far as forgiveness, that just came with timing. It was just over time and I have to forgive myself for some of the choices I made. I think that's what happens with forgiveness, is just with time you heal and you forgive.
I bet a lot of women will be able to relate to your story because you've gone through domestic violence and had a very public domestic dispute. Can you talk about preparing yourself for possibly being a role model of sorts for women?
I'm not the poster child for domestic violence. I've got a feisty, button-pushing part of myself as well. I met Floyd when I was 16 years old, and we have grown, and I have watched this man develop into the champion of the world. Sometimes I take on some of his characteristics and become a little bit feisty myself. It's not always the man's fault; sometimes it's the woman's fault. In this situation, yes it was (his fault). Floyd did take the responsibility, but, it's giving me a voice to say, 'no matter whose fault it is, it's about growing, it's about evolving.' My 32-year-old self is looking back on my 16-year-old self and saying, 'I don't want to make those same choices anymore.' I want to be a better person and make better choices.
What got you to this place?
A lot of it was a circle of girlfriends ... family support, some of it was reading, some of it was therapy, some of it was meditation. It just came down to me loving myself first and forgiving myself and being able to look in the mirror and say, 'Josie, I love you.' And 'Josie, I forgive you.' And I have to be able to love Josie and forgive Josie to be able to forgive other people
Did Floyd give you his blessing to do the show?
He didn't necessarily say, 'I'm so proud of you that you're doing that show,' because I don't really think that he knows what it was about. Sometimes reality television shows don't always show women in a good light, but what's so great about TLC is that they are telling the story, the truth, you know, they're getting to the heart of the women that are involved, so it's a little bit different from the other reality television shows that kind of surface. And I think once he sees that, he's going to feel really, really proud.
This does feel more like a documentary than just a run-of-the-mill reality show.
It is. He just has … passively been supportive. Floyd's not a really outspoken person, he just kind of sits back and waits to see. But he is a very outspoken person if he thinks that I'm doing something negatively, and if I think that he thought that, he would have been very opposed to me doing it. He knows what type of person I am and where I'm coming from, and this is not the type of show where we're bashing [our exes]. We love our exes … we're just moving into our own.
Who are you right now?
I [am someone who] will take chances now. Yes, I have faults, yes there's things that I probably say that you would see on the show that I probably should not say. [There are things] that I regret saying. I have to learn how to go back and say I'm sorry about things that I do. [On this show] we are a sisterhood and sisters have arguments and sister go through things, but we're able to come together and have dinner at the end of the day is what matters most.
Kelley L. Carter is an Emmy-winning entertainment and features journalist who has written for publications including USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, the Detroit Free Press, Vibe, Ebony and Essence magazines. She also regularly provides expert pop culture and entertainment commentary for outlets including CNN, HLN, E!, and the TV Guide Channel.