Ayesha Curry is reflecting on living her life in the public eye. In her cover story for May’s issue of Insider, she opened up about why none of her and husband Steph Curry’s kids currently have cell phones or social media, and reflected on her 2019 appearance on Red Table Talk.
You may recall, Ayesha’s eldest daughter, Riley, went viral a few years ago when Steph brought her with him to his post-game press conferences. Though the video is just as adorable now as it was back then, Ayesha says she is regretful of the overexposure it meant for her daughter.
"When the social media thing started, nobody knew what that was going to become," she told the outlet. "If we had known back in the day just how chaotic it would make life, I don't think we would've done it. But we were just genuinely living our lives back then. And we thought, 'This is our kid. We're bringing our kid along.'"
Though bringing their family along is still important, she says she and Steph have had to reconsider their approach to doing that.
"Where's the middle ground, where we're strict, but we're also allowing our kids to experience life?" she said. "We're trying to figure out what that balance is. Just kind of learn as you go, right?"
It can be interesting to hear this level of humility from celebrities, particularly as it pertains to things they wish they did differently in the past. For regular people, we can scrub things from the internet, decide we want to start doing things differently and pivot as often as we see fit, and for the most part, we get away with it. But when you’re a celebrity, there’s always some old YouTube clip or some old tweet that was screenshotted. The internet never forgets. Or forgives.
One clip that still leads to a lot of frustration for Ayesha in recent years is her appearance on Jada Pinkett-Smith’s Red Table Talk. In 2019, she was featured on the Facebook Watch series and she got a lot of backlash for remarks she made during the interview. This, she says, was the turning point for her where she decided to move herself and her kids away from the spotlight.
At the time she appeared on the show, she had recently given birth to the couple’s youngest child, Canon, and was nursing. During the episode, while on the topic of anxiety, she discussed the reality of being an NBA wife, expressing her feelings on all of the attention her husband got from his female fans and saying that sometimes, she wanted more attention from her husband.
The public’s response was harsh. For weeks, Ayesha was the subject of online trolls who labelled her an attention-seeker. Her husband came to her defence, sharing a photo of the pair with the following words across it in a now-expired Instagram story:
“Proud of you for being authentic and putting yourself out there – not being afraid of the potential bull s#*# and nonsense that could and did come at you. Way more positive than negative with all of this. Keep being you. I love you”
Ayesha described what it was like being taken out of context for clicks as a ‘painful lesson’, saying that she’s had to learn how to be guarded.
“The episode was edited in a way that made me sound crazy," she said. "It's not what I said, and the context was weird. Yeah. I took that one personally."
It’s not uncommon for celebrity remarks to be taken out of context. But her making a point to say that she took this one ‘personally’ is possibly pointed directly at Jada. Of course, the show had an entire staff of editors and producers, and the fault may not lie directly with Jada. But the end result of any guest appearing on your show being subjected to online abuse over something being misconstrued, especially in this case where both women were Black and know so much about what that’s like, is not a good look for Jada.
Ayesha’s interview, more than anything, humanized her. It provided the much-needed context that was missing when the headlines that swirled in 2019 only told half the story. But the other thing it did is highlight the importance of image control for celebrities – and where the lines get blurred between what they can control and what they can’t.
With social media, it’s easy to think that you have complete control over your image and how you choose to put yourself out there. And to an extent, that’s true. But the missing component here is not only how that image is received, but how it’s perceived, and what that looks like when you’re a celebrity.
Ayesha explaining that Riley was in those press conferences because that’s how they, as a family, wanted to blend their personal life with Steph’s professional basketball career, is a far cry from people who assumed they were exploiting their kids for attention. This isn’t to say people don’t exploit their kids all the time on social media for attention, engagement, or sometimes even money, but it is to say that that was not their intention.
And Ayesha showing up to Red Table Talk to express the range of emotions that so many NBA wives must have felt at some point in their husbands' careers, only for her words to be twisted in the way they were, must have been incredibly frustrating for her. Especially because this was all happening at a time that she should’ve been enjoying the early stages of motherhood again. Her revelations must have been validating for so many others who have found themselves in her shoes. But the focus remained on her being an attention-seeker.
To her point about learning how to be guarded – perhaps it’s less about being guarded and more about being strategic and exercising greater discernment in who has access to you. And though it’s unfortunate that she no longer feels safe enough to show up in the way that she once did on social media and in the spotlight, her renewed commitment to letting her kids be kids is refreshing, and something a lot of other celebrities could learn from.