We first wrote about Atlanta’s Antavius Weems in “The Child Advocate,” an article in the 2005 issue of Georgia Rising Stars magazine. Weems, a former Assistant City Solicitor and County Child Advocate, now a civil litigation and family law attorney with his own practice, has lately been garnering attention on the reality show “Toni Braxton’s Family Values,” portraying himself, Antavius Weems, lawyer to Toni Braxton and her family.
In the following three-part interview, Mr. Weems talks about what it’s like to play yourself on reality TV; his concerns about protecting both himself and his client from the salaciousness of reality TV; and the reaction of the Georgia legal community.
What’s been the reaction to your appearances on the show? Do people recognize you on the street?
It’s been weird. As lawyers, we lead a public life. But once you’re done with that public life, in the courtroom, you go home and veg.
I don’t have a name like John Smith. Antavius Weems. When people see my name, they say, “Oh hell, that’s gotta be him.” So unfortunately people have called my home. “Are you the lawyer on the Toni Braxton TV show?” I looked on Facebook and I’ve got two fan pages.
I’ll tell you one concern I had. There was an article about me published in The Fulton Daily Report about the show. And for whatever reason, the article went viral and was published by media outlets around the nation. I started getting emails saying, “Did you say this?” “Did you say that?” So I Googled it and I saw this article-bits and pieces everywhere. Everywhere. And they would really take things out of context. Like one article, the heading was, “Toni Braxton’s Lawyer Says ‘Business is Good!'” [Laughs] You know? Hell. So I called Toni. I said, “Toni, I don’t know what to do. The lawyer in me wants to contact these publications and say, ‘Listen, if you want to do an interview with me, call me, I’ll be happy to talk to you. But don’t take something that’s already been printed and take pieces from here and pieces from there.'”
And she started laughing at me. And she said, “Weems, welcome to my world.”
[Laughs] So what did you do?
I just left it alone. You take the bitter with the sweet and move on.
And you may wind up more empathetic with celebrity clients.
Absolutely right. I’ve been able to glean a little bit into that world.
How about the legal community? What’s the reaction been there?
People see me coming and say, “Where’s the camera at, there goes Weems.” I’ve got judges on the bench say, “Let me get you out of here because I know you gotta go tape.” They’re letting me have it. It’s all in good fun. I have not had anyone in the legal community say anything negative.
A mentor of mine, Gino Brogdon, called and said, “Listen, I know that you’ve already thought through this, but you make sure that you protect your brand and that you protect your clients at all costs.” And I appreciated that. It was someone I really, really respect, and I appreciated that he was looking out for me.
Stay tuned for the drama. Season 2 starts November 9th.