Overcoming dyslexia, raising a large blended family, and running a successful business are just a few of the traits that make former DC Housewife Lynda Erkiletian a role model. She took some time out from her very busy schedule to talk to me about being on the road, her road to success, and of course, her short, but memorable ride, on RHODC.
TBB: Hi Lynda. I read that you were a back-up singer when you were 18. What events led to this experience?
LE: After graduating high school, I enrolled at Elmira College. Within the first 6 weeks, it became more apparent that I was suffering from dyslexia. I had always suspected it as I was constantly struggling with academics. I had my doubts about college, but I felt I was supposed to go; so there I was, feeling like a fish out of water. It was very painful, I knew I had no other choice but to leave school and follow the voice within that was guiding me towards the arts, a place where I felt I could succeed.
After this realization, I decided to pack up and move to DC where I began to explore a career in hair and makeup. It was around this time that I was approached and asked if I could sing. I was told Candi Staton needed backup singers immediately for an upcoming tour. I auditioned, started rehearsing, and a month later I was on the road. It was a whirlwind—from growing up in South Georgia, moving from upstate NY to DC and then suddenly finding myself singing backup for a superstar— it was beyond my wildest dreams.
Eventually, I realized the industry was not right for me for multiple reasons. It was too much time on the road and hard on my relationships. I returned home to DC and fully committed to getting my license in cosmetology.
TBB: You were in the business of making people beautiful before you began representing the beautiful. What events lead you to create T·H·E Artist Agency?
LE: I knew from the beginning that I wanted to work as a hair and makeup artist on-location rather than working in a salon. I loved the fashion and beauty industry because every day was different. I developed a wonderful clientele and when I took time off after my first child was born, many of my clients asked me to recommend other hair and makeup artists during my leave of absence. After the birth of my second child 18 months later, it became apparent that there was need for an agency in DC such as T·H·E that could represent behind the scenes hair, makeup, wardrobe and specialty stylists. Having no business background and little capital, I started very small. I subleased a 300 square foot office with one phone and call-waiting. I realized that in order to get people to sign exclusively with T·H·E Artist Agency we had to offer something that wasn’t available at the time— a manager to direct and market their career plus a guarantee of payment within 30 days of a job. In addition, I provided my client base, which included Sugar Ray Leonard, Nancy Reagan, and a number of other celebrities. I felt if I could channel that into a business I’d have more flexibility with my family. I discovered an across-the-board way to highlight DC as a city that was deserving of an agency. A year later T·H·E Artist Agency began representing models.
TBB: While running T·H·E Artist Agency, you also raised a large blended family. Do you all remain close since you divorced?
LE: I have four biological children and three stepchildren. When I met my second husband I had two (children) he had three, and then we had two together. We always joked about yours, mine, and ours. Even now we remain a close family unit and we still spend the holidays together. It was a very amicable divorce.
TBB: How did your children feel about you being on a reality show?
LE: My children actually requested a meeting with the producers because they were a little skeptical. We invited them to come to our apartment. The owners of Half Yard Productionsassured all involved that they were going to be respectful of what we wanted to show and what we didn’t. After the meeting my children said, “Mom I think you can trust them and you should do it.”
TBB: What was your take on the Salahi White House dinner debacle?
LE: I had experienced firsthand their behavior prior to that, however I was a little surprised that they believed they could get in the White House and not be noticed. When I think about them as whole, they were infamous for showing up at events uninvited and even getting through the checkpoints. I was embarrassed for our city and I felt for the President and his team as the incident occurred during his first StateDinner.
TBB: How did you feel when RHODC wasn’t renewed for a second season?
LE: I was disappointed because I felt like we had finally got the hang of what it was like to experience film crews and people following us around. We were all creating sound-bytes and preparing for a second season. Not getting a second season left us feeling like we let the viewers down. There were so many stories left unfinished like Stacyfinding her biological father, as well as Catand what went down with her marriage. Our show didn’t air in real time, so when people watched it we were no longer in the same places anymore. I felt like we left viewers hanging.
TBB: Some fans have called for a RHODC renewal. Would you be in if asked to be?
LE: I loved the experience of having done RHODC and yes I would do it again. What you see is what you get. If they had been following me around this year the viewers would have seen that my life went through a complete change. I moved back to the suburbs, my mom moved in with me for a year after being diagnosed with cancer, I was juggling going back and forth from DC to LA for work, and my children were coming and going from school, all while helping plan my sons upcoming wedding at our home in upstate NY. My life was a cross between the Golden Girls and Modern Family and it certainly would have made for an interesting storyline. I think the same for Cat who is now pregnant and releasing a second book. With the right cast it would have been an incredible experience.
TBB: Is there anybody you think wouldn’t be down (or asked back) for another season?
LE: I don’t know about anyone else’s state of mind so I really couldn’t answer that.
TBB: In what ways has the exposure on Bravo changed your life?
LE: Let me count the ways… I am much more aware of what is taking place on TV today. Being in an industry where I represent models and stylists I’ve always tried to remain current with regard to the world of fashion and advertising.
I am thankful that I have been exposed to reality television as it continues to play a major role in my industry with shows like Project Runway, America’s Next Top Model,and Fashion Star to name a few. Reality TV also introduced me to the world of social media. After I found two impostors pretending to be me on Twitter and Facebook I decided to sign up and use my own voice. I am happy to say that I am now a certified “Twitter-a-Holic”—before then I never saw the value in social media. It has definitely changed how I do business.
TBB: Everyone wants to know if you are still dating Ebong Eka.
LE: No, we are no longer dating (sadly the hottie has been set free.) However unattractive this may sound, I must confess that during our relationship I did have feelings of insecurity about our age difference.
Ebong would reassure me this was his choice, but deep down in my heart I believed someday he would want to be with someone who was younger, someone who could provide him with children. Our seventeen-year age gap put us in different places in terms of our life experiences. Because of this I felt it best for us to part ways. Ebongand I continue to be friends. He is a CPA doing financial bits for Fox News and other sources.
Since then I have remained single, choosing to work on myself whether it be with my healer, my personal trainer, or my thoughts. Learning to love myself will lead me to finding my life partner.
TBB: Thank you for talking with me today. Is there anything else you would like people to know about you?
LE: I feel the best I have in years. My professional life is thriving (both T·H·E Artist Agency and The James and Paula Coburn Foundation). My mom is in remission and living on her own again, my children and I are healthy and happy— our health is our wealth, so it’s as good as it gets.
Thank you Tara for continuing to make RHODC relevant. For those who wish to ride the goat rodeo rollercoaster that is my life, please follow me, my business and life endeavors below.
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