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Cast members of VH1's 'Atlanta Exes' create lane to fame after breakups with celebrity mates

FILE - In this Oct. 8, 2013 file photo, Torrei Hart attends ASCAP'S 5th Annual Women Behind the Music Series in Hollywood, Calif. Torrei Hart is among a group of exes having yet another moment in the spotlight, thanks to a new phenomenon in reality television shows: spinoffs based solely on the ex-wives and ex-girlfriends of famous folks. She and five other women will star on the new reality series,

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FILE - In this Oct. 8, 2013 file photo, Torrei Hart attends ASCAP'S 5th Annual Women Behind the Music Series in Hollywood, Calif. Torrei Hart is among a group of exes having yet another moment in the spotlight, thanks to a new phenomenon in reality television shows: spinoffs based solely on the ex-wives and ex-girlfriends of famous folks. She and five other women will star on the new reality series, "Atlanta Exes," that premieres Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, on VH1. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision for ASCAP/AP Images, File)

ATLANTA - Torrei Hart's career took a backseat for years to raise two children, allowing her then-husband Kevin Hart to pursue his comedy career.

The two ultimately ended an eight-year marriage with divorce in 2011 after she says infidelity caused the split. By that time, Kevin's career began to soar while Torrei struggled to get her comedy career back on track.

Now, she hopes it's her time to shine. Hart is among a group of exes having yet another moment in the spotlight, thanks to a new phenomenon in reality television shows: spinoffs based solely on the ex-wives and ex-girlfriends of famous folks.

"It's my time to come up," said Torrei Hart, who along with five other women will star on the new reality series, "Atlanta Exes," which premieres Monday night on VH1 with eight episodes planned for the first season. The show delves into the lives of the women who were linked to highly popular men.

It also stars Tameka Raymond (Usher's ex-wife), Monyetta Shaw (Ne-Yo's ex-fiancee), Christina Johnson (Cee-Lo's ex-wife) and Sheree Buchanan (ex-wife of former NFL player Ray Buchanan).

"It's a great platform," Torrei Hart said. "Look what happens to people who do reality TV. I mean, everybody has a goal in life. You can achieve it through reality television."

But Raymond says aiming toward fame is not her ulterior motive.

"It's not coming up on our strife. We're not trying to come up off of our exes," said Raymond, who was married to Grammy-winning singer Usher for two years before they divorced in 2007. "I think the title may scare people. It might make people tense up. Even the title concerned me in the beginning. But I think it's a draw. I think it's very strategic."

Raymond wants to tell her side of the story after a long legal fight with Usher last year. She lost custody of her two sons to the singer a month after 11-year-old son Kile Glover died in a boating accident in 2012.

"There were so many misconceptions of who I am as a person," Raymond said. "Everything from my marriage to how I deal with my children. I figured there's no other way to clear it up, and be my own voice."

The Atlanta version is a spinoff of "Hollywood Exes," which finished its third season in July. Some of the cast members included Nicole Murphy, Jessica Canseco and Mayte Garcia for a show that averaged less than a million viewers. Exes also have been featured in VH1's "Basketball Wives" and various "Real Housewives" franchises on Bravo, among others.

Both the spinoffs and the others offer exes of celebrities an opportunity to tell their stories, promote themselves as entrepreneurs and with the hopes of ridding the conception of being "gold diggers."

On the show, Johnson maintains her interior design company, Shaw pens a children's book, Hart releases her Cherry Limeade-flavoured drink mixer called Skimpy and Raymond attempts to bring more recognition to her son's foundation, Kile's World.

"The stereotype of a celebrity's significant other or ex is not true," said Monyetta Shaw, who has two children with Grammy-winning artist Ne-Yo, who broke the news of their breakup to his followers on Instagram last year.

Shaw and Ne-Yo still live together in a home in suburban Atlanta. Even though a family portrait is posted on the wall and the singer's awards are cased in the hallways, she said the singer is often away.

"We're not gold diggers," Shaw continued. "We are more than that. We are business women, college educated, very smart, ambitious and role models too."

Some of the cast member's former mates were fine with their being on the show, while others, such as Usher, were concerned about their exes revealing too much.

Hart couldn't care less.

"I guess mine is supportive," she said. "Even if he wasn't, I would still do it. Who cares? He never said 'don't do it.' But he was like, 'Why are you doing it?' I said, 'Because I want to.' And that was the end of that."

Johnson hopes the extra exposure of the show can help other women who are dealing with the aftermath of a divorce or breakup following a long-term relationship.

"We go through it," she said. "But we want women to see being divorced doesn't mean you're a failure. We want women to learn from us."

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VH1 is owned by Viacom Inc.

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Online:

http://www.vh1.com/shows/atlanta-exes

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Follow Jonathan Landrum Jr. on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/mrlandrum31

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