Rev. Run, Wife Justine Talk Family Values These days, Reverend Run and his wife, Justine, are best known for their MTV reality show, Run's House. The couple has written a book together, titled Take Back the Family: A Challenge to America's Parents. They join NPR's Tony Cox.
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Rev. Run, Wife Justine Talk Family Values

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Rev. Run, Wife Justine Talk Family Values

Rev. Run, Wife Justine Talk Family Values

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Here's another listener favorite from 2008.

(Soundbite of NPR's News & Notes, October 7, 2008)

(Soundbite of music)

CHIDEYA: He's an ordained minister and a pioneering hip-hop star. We're talking about Joseph Simmons, who is the Run in the legendary chart-topping group Run-DMC. The MTV generation knows Simmons as a devoted husband and father of six from his reality show, "Run's House" which also stars his wife, Justine.

(Soundbite of "Run's House")

Ms. JUSTINE SIMMONS: Oh, Joey, Joey, wait. Diggy or Russy didn't make the honor roll.

Reverend JOSEPH SIMMONS: So, both of them at the same time is having a problem?

Ms. SIMMONS: Well, but it's not just the honor roll with Diggy.

Rev. SIMMONS: There's something going on in the house that's making…

Ms. SIMMONS: Diggy's talking and not being focused…

Rev. SIMMONS: So, there's got to be something that we're doing wrong if both of them at the same time didn't make the honor roll.

Ms. SIMMONS: Something you're doing?

Rev. SIMMONS: Why do you keep blaming it on me? It's something you're doing, or something we're doing. Let's take - both take responsibility and put it on them.

Ms. SIMMONS: I didn't do nothing different.

Rev. SIMMONS: You know what I'm going to do? Instead of blaming you and blaming me, we'll just start fixing it. It's your fault.

Ms. SIMMONS: I heard you, Joe. It's not funny.

CHIDEYA: The couple has written a new book on parenting called "Take Back Your Family: A Challenge to America's Parents." Both Rev. Run and Justine Simmons joined NPR's Tony Cox to talk more about the book and their TV Show.

Rev. SIMMONS (Star, "Run's House): Well, you know, for me this whole thing is a ministry, as I'm Reverend Run. You know, I was telling everybody, this is a ministry, this is a way to touch people in America and all over the world through MTV.

So, when I'm on the television and I'm doing the words of wisdom in the tub at the end or I'm talking to my son in his room about something, I'm letting you into my home to see how I would handle a situation with Russy if he broke his Game Boy or with Diggy if he wasn't doing well in school or with my wife if there's something that's going through us. So, the cameras would be in the bedroom and I know I'm going in there to handle something that we're going through and you would just be on the in of what's going on in my house and how I handle it. So, that's how the show works. It was intentionally, not only for me to have a reality show but for me to show you my ministry and my ministry happens to be to the family.

TONY COX: But you're an entertainer, experienced entertainer, and you are used to being in the public eye. Are your children? They are probably now but were they as this began?

Rev. SIMMONS: They were a bunch of hams at the beginning.

Ms. SIMMONS: Yeah.

Rev. SIMMONS: It was very shocking. The cameras came on and they loved it and they ask it now, every season like, we getting another season, we getting another season?

Ms. SIMMONS: Yeah.

COX: Really?

Rev. SIMMONS: We were the church a lot. They understood the point. We didn't just throw this at them. When we first told them about it, we said, this is what we're doing. This is our service to the world. It wasn't like, we're going on television to become big stars. That's why the show comes off as it does.

We're going on television to serve. We're going to show them how we run our household. We're going to show everybody in the world how we get over. How we have blended families. How we handle situations. We're going to show them why our family works. And they were like, got it. That's what it was about.

Ms. SIMMONS: Right. But also, people also love the show and felt like they were a part of us when they see us.

Rev. SIMMONS: You know, you want to peek inside a rock stars lifestyle but then that high dies off quick.

COX: I understand. Let's talk about the book. "Take Back Your Family." The title makes it sounds as if this is a way to help you get your family back to the situation or back in the standing that they should be. Is that…

Ms. SIMMONS: Mm hmm. That's why we got "Challenge to America."

Rev. SIMMONS: I don't think - well, take - take back means to me, you're taking it back from all the things out there that could be distractions. You want to take them back from the streets and put them in school. You want to take them back from worrying about the opinions of their peers to your opinion. You want to take them back.

For me, right now, I have to make sure that since my kids become stars, that Vanessa and Angela aren't looking to US magazine to validate them. Don't give away your powers. I'm constantly telling my kids, your power is not within if we have another season.

COX: One of the things in the book that I read that caught my eye, Rev., was you talked about your experiences with Run-DMC and how that - when that came to an end, you sort of hit the bottom emotionally and otherwise. And that sort of precipitated your going into the ministry. Is your life now opposite of what it was when you were doing…

Rev. SIMMONS: No, not at all. I'm on tour with Kid Rock.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Rev. SIMMONS: It's not the opposite at all. I'm signing books during the day and I'm rapping at night. How that came back about, I don't know. But God came - like, he showed me, I made you a rapper also. You know, you don't get so caught up in the ministry that you don't rap. People enjoyed that.

When I got to a place where things were changing for me - you go where you're celebrated, not where you're tolerated. But I'm still Run. When you see me out on stage, you'll say, that's not the same guy that was just preaching. He's screaming all these crazy lyrics and doing my Adidas. It doesn't look like the same guy that's going to be sitting here talking to you about family principles. So, some things have changed, but basically, I am the Reverend Run. So, I'm the reverend and I'm still Run.

COX: Now, does he write the words of wisdom or do you help him write them?

Ms. SIMMONS: No, he writes them. Well, what happens is he gets up early in the morning before everybody. He gets in the tub and I mean, that's where, I guess, he finds his peace or whatever. And he reads the books, he reads the Bible, and then, it's like God gives him what - you know, what word of the day and or sometimes it's whatever he's going through. And it's funny because a lot of people will write back, oh, my god, that was right on point. I needed that word. And then he'll have me probably read it over or something like that.

COX: Two more things I want to ask you. I appreciate both of you coming in. It's really an interesting conversation to me. One is this, having been married myself, as I've told you a couple of times, I know that there are people who are married who will be listening to this or who are in relationships or have been in relationships who will say, well, that's great for Reverend Run and for Justine. You know, they can do that, but you know, life is hard.

Rev. SIMMONS: It is.

COX: And you know, it's just not all easy and all fun and like they're describing. So, good for them, but that ain't going to happen for me.

Ms. SIMMONS: No, no, no, no.

Rev. SIMMONS: We showed them - we lost our baby on television. We go through hell. We showed the happy side and we brought the cameras in the house when she lost the baby after eight months. We went into the hospital. We don't just show a happy life. Everything that goes on in our house is game. We've showed it all on MTV. And I'll argue with her, but I realize that at that moment, or she'll realize at that moment, OK, she's not agreeing with me.

Ms. SIMMONS: Yeah.

Rev. SIMMONS: One of us…

Ms. SIMMONS: It's like…

Rev. SIMMONS: Wait a minute. One of us is going to have to back down…

Ms. SIMMONS: No, you keep saying that, baby. I want to say something.

Rev. SIMMONS: Well, I was still making my point then.

Ms. SIMMONS: OK. OK. Anyway, we will argue but it's like - it's a argument that you know that's getting ready to end, like, not a argument. Don't look at me like that.

Rev. SIMMONS: I'm not finished because you cut me off. Go ahead.

Ms. SIMMONS: Oh, my god, because you've been talking every minute. I want to say something.

Rev. SIMMONS: Finish your point.

Ms. SIMMONS: What we're saying is, like, we'll argue, but it'll be - we know, this is not - you know, we're going to go to bed like this. You know, whereas we…

Rev. SIMMONS: Well, the Bible says, don't do that. You got to do something…

Ms. SIMMONS: You know but, as younger, I didn't always feel that way. You know, if I was mad, I was mad. You know what I mean?

COX: You know, I'm older and I don't know always feel that way now.

Ms. SIMMONS: Exactly. Exactly. But I'm not even thinking divorce. I feel like a lot of people just all of a sudden, as soon as things don't go right, they think, you know what, I'm going to just leave. Like, you know, and I might have thought that years ago or felt like that years ago. But I'm learning, this argument, OK. So, let's on with it like…

Rev. SIMMONS: You know what I find? And I like the question that you're asking. It's very important. And I'm going to speak this directly to you. The thing that stops relationships from happening - the Bible talks about it's two becoming one. And in order to one, you have to have the same ideas. In order to have the same ideas, you're going to have to give in a lot.

For me, I want my marriage very badly. So, a happy wife, happy life. So, if I'm right or wrong, or whatever, I'm willing to just shut up and go into the other room and read the newspaper, because I don't want to be right more than I want my marriage. So, ego says, I want to be right. So, I'm going to tell you what you did today with the kids, with this, is wrong. That doesn't work for a marriage. One of you have to back down. I've made it - and she backs down - but I'm saying, I've made it my decision to back down. It doesn't feel good at all.

COX: I'm looking at her right now. She's doesn't look like she's backing down.

Rev. SIMMONS: Well, actually we both back down. I'm saying that - the things I say every day.

Ms. SIMMONS: OK. No, I just don't want to make it seem like…

Rev. SIMMONS: No, I said, you back down or I back down. But I'm talking about - I'm speaking for myself, honey.

Ms. SIMMONS: OK, I just don't want to make it seem like you back down more.

Rev. SIMMONS: I'm speaking for myself. I can't speak for you. I'm talking about, since I want my marriage…

Ms. SIMMONS: I'm just checking…

COX: See, this is a real marriage. You know.

Rev. SIMMONS: Yes, it is.

COX: This is what marriage is, you know?

Rev. SIMMONS: But the key is, how bad do you want your marriage? And the only way it's going to work…

Ms. SIMMONS: And I want my marriage bad, so I'm not trying to be angry all the time and I'm trying to make him happy. And I will do things that I know he would want to do instead of doing what I wanted to do like, you know, we give in, you know?

COX: I understand. Let me ask - this is my very last question, Reverend Run. I really - I do appreciate this. It has been enlightening and a wonderful conversation. You end your show in the tub - we don't have a tub here.



COX: We don't have any bubbles.

Ms. SIMMONS: Because he would get in it.

COX: You know, we don't want you to do that.

Ms. SIMMONS: He lives in the tub.

COX: I bet, I bet. It's a nice looking tub, too.

Ms. SIMMONS: Thank you.

COX: But what we want is…

Rev. SIMMONS: I'll give you today's word. You want today's word?

COX: Today's word.

Rev. SIMMONS: Learn how much you're worth was the subject. It's very important that while you're negotiating your way through life to find out how much you're worth. You must keep a scorecard. Remember small victories, keep trophies, news clippings. Read the Bible. God will confirm how much he cherishes and loves you. Remember this - in business, people will very seldom tell you how great you are. Why? Because then they may have to pay for it. God is love, Rev. Run.

COX: Reverend Run, Justine, thank you so much.

Ms. SIMMONS: Thank you for having us.

Rev. SIMMONS: Thank you.

COX: It's been a pleasure.

Ms. SIMMONS: Thank you so much.

CHIDEYA: That was Justine Simmons and her husband, Reverend Run, speaking with NPR's Tony Cox. Their new book is called "Take Back Your Family: A Challenge to America's Parents." You can catch the entire family on their MTV reality show, "Run's House." Video of this interview can be seen at our Web site,

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