Shelton was a cast member on the fourth the season of Bravo’s “Married to Medicine.” The Atlanta resident is a mother to six children with Dr. Courtney Shelton. The 13-episode show aired last fall.
She is also an author, philanthropist, public speaker, real estate agent and a professional bikini fitness model, who competes under the name "Nikki Spice." These competitions led to the launch of Shelton's swimsuit line, Flawless Bikini and Apparel.
But all of her endeavors are built on a foundation that comes from the Far Southwest Side, where she graduated both elementary school and high school early. Shelton is the oldest of five children who were all raised near 95th Street and Winston Avenue in Washington Heights.
"I think that Beverly, growing up there, it was great in preparing you for the real world," Shelton said Monday. "It's kind of a collection of all different walks of life."
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Born Genise Ray, Shelton will return to her hometown Nov. 4 for the 2017 iCAN Creative Conference in Bronzeville. She will be among the keynote speakers at the event that aims to encourage entrepreneurship.
As for her upbringing, Shelton fondly remembers hanging out with friends at The Plaza and Ridge Park. Her first job was as a receptionist at Beacon Therapeutic Diagnostic and Treatment Center at 10650 S. Longwood Drive, which is now UCAN.
Shelton said she experienced a fair share of adversity growing up. The man she knew as her father struggled with drug addiction. She experienced gangs and violence firsthand. Her family also struggled with poor health.
"Just because you have these difficult circumstances, doesn't mean you don't have drives," she said. "People never know the story, but they all want the glory."
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Shelton's mother suffered a debilitating stroke at age 48. Shelton's brother was just 12 years old when he was diagnosed with diabetes and obesity. And all of her siblings and immediate family each weigh more than 250 pounds.
It was with this in mind that Shelton authored "Married to Fitness," which debuted in August. Her hope is that the book inspires those suffering from obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and risk of stroke to improve their health.
"I am on this plight to be more self-driven in terms of health," said Shelton, who will make a guest appearance on the upcoming fifth season of "Married to Medicine."
It's this same drive that powered Shelton to become a professional bikini fitness model. She entered her first show at the urging of a trainer and took home second place. She then won her next show, becoming a professional.
"It was rigorous, but I enjoyed it," said Shelton, adding she works out about six days a week for about two hours each day to prepare for both competition and being on television.
These days, Shelton said she is most heavily consumed by the Our Children’s Keeper Foundation, which she launched in 2017. The goal of the charity is to end child sex trafficking and recover abducted and missing children in Atlanta.
Shelton has lived in Atlanta for the past 17 years. But she looked back fondly on her time in Chicago. She said the diversity she experienced in her childhood continues to stand out as a powerful influence.
She also remembers driving through Beverly in awe of the many grand, old homes. She and her friends would often point out houses they wanted to live in someday. But perhaps the thing she remembers most is a summertime staple in the city.
"The biggest thing I remember growing up in Chicago was all the block parties," she said.