"My parents exposed me to so much as a kid," says the actress, whose docu-series Raising Whitley recently wrapped its fourth season on Oprah Winfrey's OWN network. "I want to be able to do those same things with my son."
The show chronicles the challenges of parenting her adopted 5-year-old son Joshua, who Whitley took in after a young woman she was mentoring abandoned him at a hospital. As a busy actor, producer, director and stand-up comedienne, Whitley seeks support from her close circle of friends, known as the Village.
"I have all my friends helping me, and Joshua has so much love in his life," she says. "But whenever I have a chance to sit down with him, I can tell he enjoys all the mommy time."
Whitley is currently appearing in season three of Young & Hungry, a series on the Freeform network, formerly ABC Family, and just wrapped filming the movie Fist Fight, a comedy with Tracy Morgan, Ice Cube, Charlie Day and former Clevelander Joanna Garcia Swisher. "It's about a misunderstanding between two teachers, and it is absolutely hysterical," she says of the slated summer release.
Despite her hectic schedule, the Los Angeles-based Whitley's thoughts are never far from home. She brings Joshua along when visiting her father, brother, nieces and nephews several times each year. "LA doesn't have that sense of community that Cleveland has," she says. "And they don't have a Whitmore's [BBQ] or a Mr. Hero either."