Before 2008, Christine Beatty, as the chief of staff to Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, was a celebrated strategist with a promising future in politics. That changed the morning the Detroit Free Press published the private, intimate text messages that Beatty and Kilpatrick exchanged on their government-issued phones during their six-year extramarital affair.
The fallout was brutal. The texts proved that Beatty had once lied under oath by denying her affair with Kilpatrick. Beatty, a mother, was sentenced to 90 days in jail. In addition, she was mercilessly roasted in the press and by the public. And after the media smoke cleared and people moved on to drag someone else, Beatty still found herself branded with a scarlet A.
Nearly eight years after her very public downfall, Beatty is back in the spotlight—this time, on her own terms. She’s one of five women participating in Centric’s new docuseries, From the Bottom Up, which follows the lives of Beatty and other women who are searching for redemption after experiencing a public fallout. Queen Latifah is executive producer of the series.
In an exclusive interview, Beatty opens up to The Root about forgiving herself, moving on and handling the most devastating ordeal of her life.
The Root: Why did you decide to do a reality show?
Christine Beatty: I didn’t decide to do any reality show; it was this reality show. [Producer] Nicci Gilbert approached me and explained her concept, which was different women who had a fall from grace due to their own poor choices, and the idea that you can push forward and have a second chance. Second chances are real, but it’s what you do with them. That’s what got me thinking, “OK, well, maybe.”
TR: What do you think viewers of From the Bottom Up will be surprised to learn about you?
CB: Maybe that I was a real professional. People were so bombarded with the sexting and the text-message scandal that they really didn’t have an opportunity to understand that I was the actual chief of staff [to the mayor]. I had a reputable job; I ran the mayoral campaigns. And the job was my passion.
I also think people would be surprised to know just how devastating that ordeal was for me personally, professionally, for my colleagues. One of the most painful things for me was that my city had to suffer though an ordeal that I was a part of. That crushed me. Not a lot of people got to see how that ordeal affected me. I went into the background, so most people only saw the side of my story that the press wrote about. I didn’t speak on it.
TR: Most people will never be in the center of a national scandal that makes the covers of newspapers. What was that like?