NEW EDITION Ronnie Devoe
Monarch: This is Naomi from Monarch Magazine, how are you?
Ronnie: I’m wonderful as a matter of fact. And, how are you?
Monarch: I’m pretty good. Or, I’m wonderful, I should say because that sounded amazing.
Ronnie: Right, that’s right, you have to speak it into existence.
Monarch: So, I’m going to be saying that for the rest of the day when some asks me, “How you doing?” I’m wonderful. So, thank you of course for meeting with me today, I know you have a busy schedule, but I really want to thank you for getting me in to do this interview.
Ronnie: Yes, it’s not a problem at all. It’s all a part of the process. It’s exciting times, you know, to be able to talk to people such as yourself that value, you know, what’s going on with this New Edition story and I mean there’s just some intrigue going on across the country and the world, as a matter of fact and we’re riding that wave.
Monarch: And that’s a good segue into talking about maybe some of the things that the viewers will see in the New Edition film.
Ronnie: Right, well okay…you know I can’t give too much away because we want people to tune in of course, but they’re going to learn so much about this group that they have not seen or heard of before. Fortunately for us, I think the thing that allows people to feel like they’re anticipating this story so much is because we didn’t come out in the age of social media, you know, or reality television. It’s like train wreck TV is all about your dirty laundry, you know. We came out in an era where it was about um, sweeping things under the rug, you know, hiding things under the closest and all of the above. And, I think that that lends to the fact that people want to see and know like what are the inner workings, you know, what happened behind the scenes. They seeing us do our thing of course on stage and all of the above, but you know how did, you know, Bobby and Ronnie hang out with each other? You know, what made Ralph and Michael’s relationship tick, you know, off stage? You know, those are some of the things that we’re going to expose in this movie and of course it’s hard to do 33 years of history in a matter of what maybe five hours in total. But we’re just truly excited about the fact that it is a miniseries and not just a major motion picture where we would only have those two hours to work with.
Monarch: So, movies like NWA’s Straight Outta Compton, did that really, like, fuel you guys to really want to get your story out there or was this something you were already planning to do over time?
Ronnie: This has been in the making since right around 2005. Jesse Collins, who is the executive producer on the film, thought of this while we were working on the BET Awards around that time, Michael Jackson’s passing and all of the stuff that was going with them trying to pull New Edition together for this performance. BBD was already slated to be on. But everything that went in to pulling the six of us together and you know the up and downs, the roller coaster ride of that week, we just saw a light go off in his head that made him feel like this is a major motion picture just with the week that I been dealing with these cats trying to pull this thing in. So, you can imagine the 25 years before that, give or take a couple. Including the turmoil that we went through on the Home Again tour which was one of the most anticipated times in our history as a crew. So yeah, it’s been in the making, you know, in the works for about 10 years, a little over 10 years now. But, the fact that Straight Outta Compton was so successful made us feel like okay yeah, you know who’s up next, when you look at the music industry and stories that people care about, whether it’s 2Pac or NWA or groups like maybe even Wu-Tang you know that haven’t been able to tell their stories. Even when we saw The Five Heartbeats, you know made us feel like damn, this feels like our story. When we saw the Temptations story, then you know, it made us feel like those are elements of our story. And of course, you know the Jackson story, those are the things that kind of inspired us before Straight Outta Compton was even a reality.
Monarch: So, who do you credit with helping to pull this movie, to get the final product done?
Ronnie: I would say, number one you know, the six guys of New Edition, and then the extension of New Edition, Brook Payne. You know, we call him that seventh member. The godfather. The gentleman that gave us our name, and know told us that we were going to be a new edition to this music industry at a time when we were excited about being entertainers but had no idea the magnitude of what he spoke into existence with that name. So, you know, the seven of us and then Jesse sitting at the table in 2005 and saying, yo this thing could work as a movie. And then BET jumping on board knowing all the history that we’ve had with them. I don’t know if you’ve seen it yet, I know that they sent like one to out to some of the journalist or what have you. But, an amazing job with casting. I mean Chris Robinson as a director, the passion and the desire, the fanaticism to a certain a extent that he (Chris Robinson) brought to the table as far as New Edition is concerned, you know, it’s almost like you pay for the camera and that camera costs you $1,000. But you’re able to get $5 million of worth out of this $1,000 piece of work and that’s how Chris Robinson attacked this situation. And the list kind of goes on and on. But those are some of the major players.
Monarch: So, being one of the last member to join New Edition, what is that you think you brought different to the group that wasn’t already in the dynamic?
Ronnie: I think um, you know, when you look at history and what people say about each member, to me I feel like the center. When you look at New Edition as a five-man group, you know you have Ralph as the lead. Right, then you have Bobby and Ricky handling their business. You know so, then myself and Mike. So, you know boom, the lead is out front, so who’s going to hold that center as far as the five is concerned. The center as far as choreography and dancing is concerned. When that lead is handling business with the background doing it, who’s holding it down back there. Ronnie DeVoe is one of the cats that holding that background down and making it feel like it’s a lead type situation. You’re not missing anything back there. You know from a dancing perspective I think I held the center and then, on top of that, when we look at our relationships in general and how we interact with each other, we have some extremes. You know honestly in our group in the far left and in the far right. And I believe I fit in that center position to be able to kind of hold things together at times to pull that far left in, pull that far right in, just to make peace and allow things to get moving forward at times.
Monarch: So obviously, with that being said, New Edition has gone through many transitions and even challenges over the years. So, how were you all able to work through those issues?
Ronnie: Aw man, first of all I want to say by the grace of God because none of us understood what it took to get through the 33 years of history that we’ve gone through. It was trial and error every step of the way. You know, I wish we could have had a blueprint. But, God first. And then, I believe you know just the desire to want to give the people what they want ultimately. And for any of our fans who would ask us at various times where we might have been battling against each other or what have you, when are ya’ll gonna put out a record, or I want to see ya’ll on tour and those types of things eat at your heartstrings. You know, even if you’re sitting on the far right of a decision or what have you and it’s like, look, I’m the stalemate, I’m holding firm to my passion and what I feel about this situation to the point where I’m just gonna stay away from it for a year or whatever that may be. You know, when you hear those “in-it-for-lifers” pulling at your coattails like what the hell is going on, it tugs at your heartstrings. So, I think the love for what we do, the love for our fans, and the fact that we want to give the people what they want. And then the space that we were able to have at various times, which in hindsight lends to the depth of the group. You know, not only to have success. You know consistent success as New Edition. Two million records each time we put something out.
We kicked Bobby out of the group, that was a hard time for us. But, if we didn’t kick Bob out of the group, you wouldn’t have “My Prerogative” and “Don’t Be Cruel” and a lot of the things he was able to go and do outside of us. And then Ralph and Johnny, you know feeling like it was their time leave. And Johnny to leave because he was already a solo artist of course. And Ralph feeling like look, I want to extend on this thing that I need to do for myself, allowed for me, Mike, and Rick to shine and form this thing called Bell Biv DeVoe. So, I think the space allowed for us to miss each other at times and pull this thing back in and allow our brotherhood to shine at various times. So, you know, ultimately it’s in God’s plan and I’m just excited about the fact that we had enough wisdom to make the decision to lead to the fact that we have this story that’s getting ready to be told.
Monarch: Yeah, you know it’s getting ready to be released in a couple of weeks. Time is just flying. And I know from the fan perspective there is a lot of excitement surrounding it.
Ronnie: We want to make sure that with the excitement we’re hearing about, watch parties that are going on, etc. It feels like a family type of movie, where you get your grandparents and children together to watch. But we want to make sure that with these watch parties that people set their DVRs back at the house, because we want to ensure the Nielsen ratings to show that this type of movie for our community and our heritage and our culture is the kind of movie that broke records and was supported by the masses.