Actor Flex Alexander and his wife “I Love Your Smile” singer Shanice are one of Hollywood’s most durable couples.
And at one time, they were riding high off Flex’s standup and TV career as well as Shanice’s singing. But fast forward a few years into their 13-year-marriage and finances became a problem. They’d had kids. Flex’s show One On One was over and new work wasn’t coming in. Shanice was having trouble re-starting her singing career. Eventually, the duo started struggling financially, to the point of bankruptcy, and that became the basis of their OWN reality show. On the show Flex and Shanice, they are forced to move in with family. All of their family.
“Were not where we want to be but we’re not where we used to be for sure,” Flex says. “It got pretty bad. We lost our home and our cars. You go for years making a certain amount of money and then when you’re not, those expenses are still coming in at that level. It’s going out faster than its coming in because I don’t know if Jay remembers, but there was a few years where brothers weren’t on TV. Somebody sent out a memo and said ‘Y’all gonna take a break.'”
Yes, successful TV shows like One on One do provide a lifetime of residual checks. But over time, those checks get smaller and smaller, says the couple.
“It was kind of funny, because I can find the humor in everything,” says Flex, who started out as a dancer and standup comedian. “When we go to court, we were like ‘I hope we don’t see any Black people in there. And when we got there, the only Black couple was there and they were smiling at us.”
Flex said the couple and their kids, 13-year-old daughter Imani and 10-year-old son, Elijah, were forced to live in a hotel for two weeks. Flex said he used humor to help him through that situation, making sure the family got up everyday to get the hotel’s free breakfast and putting extra waffles in his kids’ backpacks.
Shanice says the couple’s sense of humor, commitment and faith helped them through the toughest times.
“Lots of prayer,” Shanice says. “When we got married, we said divorce is not an option so we were both willing to put in the work and when he needed a shoulder to cry on, he cried on my shoulder and when I needed a shoulder to cry on, I cried on his shoulder. We just held on to each other.”
As is true with anyone dealing with adversity, the Alexanders found friends that they thought they could rely on turn away and others that they hadn’t been counting on come forward.
“We had a lot of people that we thought were in our corner that were like ‘We’re gonna holla at you,’ and others that were there,” Flex says.
Both Alexanders are trying to get back to what they do best – you’ll see Shanice singing on the show and Flex heading back to the standup circuit.
Shanice said she was the impetus for the reality show, something she’s been trying to make happen for seven years.
“I made my own vision board with a check for reality TV and with Oprah’s name on it. Seven years later, it happened on OWN.”
Flex & Shanice premieres on Saturday, November 1st at 10 p.m. on OWN. Click the link above to hear the interview!