Talk with D Smith first transgender cast member on ‘Love & Hip Hop Atlanta’

Producer D Smith (right) is expected to show up for the first time in the 2nd episode of season 5 of "Love and Hip Hop Atlanta." Her friend Betty Idol will be her partner in crime. CREDIT: Vh1

Producer D Smith (right) is expected to show up for the first time in the 2nd episode of season 5 of “Love and Hip Hop Atlanta.” Her friend Betty Idol will be her partner in crime. CREDIT: Vh1

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Monday, April 7, 2016

D. Smith is joining the humongous cast of VH1’s “Love and Hip Hop Atlanta” as a recurring character.

The music producer is the first transgender member of the cast. She is set to appear for the first time on tonight’s second episode.

“Naturally, I’m kind of a private person,” said the Buckhead resident. (I love when people say that yet are willing to be filmed on a reality show.)

“I’m also in the entertainment business and I want people to get some insight on who I am,” she said. “I want people to see I’m a serious producer. I take music seriously. I’m at heart a rock star. I’m spontaneous. Obviously me being transgender will be a topic of conversation until the day I die. I want people to know I’m a producer who happens to be transgender, not a transgender trying to break into the industry.”

She said she had her first single produced in 2009 with Keri Hilson. She has also worked with Lil Wayne and claims about a dozen songs that have made it on people’s albums. Nothing she has produced has been a major hit in the United States but she said she’s had a few big songs in Europe, including one called “Dedication to My Ex” by Lloyd and Andre 3000.

She said she also produced Lil Wayne’s album cut “Shoot Me Down.”

She expects the show will build awareness and get her more work. She credits her friend Betty Idol for bringing her to “Love and Hip Hop.”

The awareness of transgender people is growing, she said. But there is still a lot of ignorance and resistance. We should expect some cast members of the show to not exactly welcome D Smith with open arms. She said her only good friends on the show besides Betty were Mimi Faust and her friend Ariane Davis.

There is an expectation she will clash with some of the other women and men on the show.  (Already, Stevie J is not thrilled about his baby mama Mimi Faust‘s relationship with a woman.)

“Trans people are not just being used for sexual pleasure. We’re not living a taboo life,” she said. Education and acceptance, she said, will take time.

D Smith said she knew she was a woman inside a man’s body as early as age six. “I would always flirt with my brother’s friends,” she said. “I knew I wanted to be married in a beautiful gown. I knew I wanted long black hair and flawless skin. At night, I’d cry and pray and say, ‘Please take this back!’ This is obviously not right. I’d pray to wake up as a girl.”

But society pressured D Smith to suppress her natural self and conform for a time as a man “and make my father proud.” Smith, as a man, grew up in Miami, then New York City.

Smith broke into music in Atlanta in 2009, flown in by Ciara, and hung out with guys, again suppressing the woman inside him. Smith would look at a happy woman in a sundress and flip flops and feel jealous. About four years ago, Smith began reading up on transgender issues. At first, Smith simply went androgynous like David Bowie. He learned how to put on makeup and act like a woman on the outside. Eventually, Smith just began the actual transition to be a woman.

Right now, she has no idea how she will be portrayed on the show or what a lot of the cast will say behind her back. “I am freaking anxious!” she said.

TV PREVIEW

“Love and Hip Hop Atlanta,” 8 p.m. Mondays, VH1


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