After 15 years of marriage, Flex and Shanice Knox understand wholeheartedly that love conquers all for better or for worse. The couple currently stars in the OWN TV docuseries, Flex & Shanice, which chronicles the household they share along with their two children and a few extended family members.
“We felt like we had a story to tell,” says Shanice during a recent talk from one of the recording booths at Atlanta’s famed Tree Sound Studios. “We’ve been through a lot, so instead of anybody else telling our story, let us tell our own.”
In 2010, Flex, the former star of the hit UPN sitcom, One on One, and his hit-making, Grammy-nominated wife fell on hard times. They were evicted from their home. Shanice had to pawn her wedding ring. The couple sold their cars. To make matters worse, the phone that once demanded both Flex and Shanice for work stopped ringing.
Despite their misfortunes, Flex still has his sense of humor regarding their circumstances. He spent thousands of dollars on Burberry to cheer Shanice up after she gave birth to their children, Imani and Elijah. The NAACP Image award-nominated comedic actor proclaims that the Black Card is “the devil.”
Everyone seated in the studio bursts into laughter. “It helped me get back into stand up,” says Flex. “It was material that I already had.”
Living under the same roof to help out Flex and Shanice are Shanice’s mother, stepfather, uncle, Flex’s cousin and a dog. Flex says their living situation sets a fine example in keeping family front and center.
“We’re able to travel and do things because they’re there to help us,” says Flex. “It works. It’s not a permanent thing. We don’t see enough black families sticking together.”
On the other hand, Shanice, a self-proclaimed reality television junkie, started putting together a vision board three years prior to their finances plummeting. Among the items on the board, Shanice says, were a blank check with reality show written on it and a picture of Oprah Winfrey above it.
After Flex shot an episode of the previously canceled VH-1 series, Single Ladies (which is moving to BET’s Centric), a family friend purchased camera equipment for the lovely couple. The lovebirds assembled a small production crew to help them develop a sizzle reel they could pitch to a network. OWN bought Flex’s and Shanice’s show.
“We wanted to be able to help other people out there going through similar things who feel like there is no hope or no way out,” says Shanice. “We wanted to stick together as a family because that’s all we have.”
Flex and Shanice, who enter the booth holding hands, insist that they’re very involved in the direction of the show despite the network making the final decision. “[OWN] wants the same thing that we want,” says Flex. “It’s great partnering with them. They don’t want ratchet.”
Seated next to Shanice on a sofa in Tree Sound’s wide open, eco-friendly recording booth, Flex adds, “We are completely hands on. We do all of the storylines. We sit down and talk about what’s going on in our lives. If we do the show, it has to come from us.”
As Flex makes his way back on-stage, Shanice is also reviving her career. The singer behind songs like “I Love Your Smile,” “Somewhere,” “It’s For You,” “Saving Forever For You” and “When I Close My Eyes” started writing again, recording six new songs in a matter of days in Atlanta.
Shanice recently posted videos of her singing covers of Rihanna, Beyonce and Carrie Underwood singles to YouTube. The streaming clips attracted millions of views. Following the conversation, the rejuvenated vocalist performed a few new songs and classics accompanied by a live band.
“There’s magic in this building,” suggests Shanice. “I have a whole new energy here. This is a dream for me.”
Shanice ended her set performing “I Love Your Smile,” a tune she says she thought at one point was “too happy.” “Because of that record, I can still go over to Japan and Europe and do concerts,” says Shanice. “I’m proud of that record. In this industry, you have ups and downs. You don’t want to have a nervous breakdown when everything stops.”
Shanice’s loving husband, Flex constantly takes pictures of his wife performing. He’s obviously proud of his wife’s performance and returns to the studio. “She’s living proof that you can do it clean,” says Flex. “People need to hear her.”
Flex and Shanice are not out of the woods yet, but their love for each other is undeniable. They’re still working to clear their debt. The pair goes on dates with each other. Communication and companionship, they believe, are the nucleus of their 15-year marriage. “Marry your best friend,” says Shanice. “You have to really enjoy each other.”
“We have our moments when he gets on my nerves, and I get on his nerves. We don’t go to bed angry. We work it out before we go to sleep.”
This post was written by Christopher A. Daniel, pop cultural critic and music editor for The Burton Wire. He is also a contributing writer for Urban Lux Magazine and Blues & Soul Magazine. Follow Christopher @Journalistorian on Twitter.