We do Kim Porter a great disservice by reducing her to the role of a famous rapper’s ex.
On Thursday 15 November, the LA County coroner’s office confirmed that Kim Porter had been “discovered unresponsive in her home” and pronounced dead at the scene.
They added: “At this time, an autopsy is pending and a cause of death has yet to be determined.”
Since the news broke, we have seen a slew of headlines appear online, almost all of which have described Porter as “Diddy’s ex-girlfriend”. However, while it is true that the model and actress dated the American rapper on and off from 1994 to 2007 (they have three children together: 11-year-old twins Jessie James and D’Lila, and 20-year-old Christian), she was so much more than this.
Indeed, as Janelle Monae points out in her Instagram tribute, Porter “meant so much to so many” – primarily because she “was the woman who single-handedly changed the lives” of so many BAME musicians.
“When I moved to ATL, I was passionate about being an artist but had not gained much exposure,” recalls Monae. “If it had not been for you and the Three Brown Girls’ [Porter’s company with Nicole Johnson and Eboni Elektra] belief in me and inviting me out to do your open mic night Lip Service at Justin’s restaurant, my career would have been on another path.”
Addressing Porter directly, Monae continues: “You lovingly connected me with two key players that helped move my career forward, Big Boi and Diddy. And I am forever indebted to you.”
The musician adds: “When the headlines talk about you I pray they talk about the platform your company gave new and up and coming artists in Atlanta. BECAUSE YOU WERE A CONNECTOR. You were a champion of women in the industry. YOU WERE A BOSS moving through this life with so much style and grace.
“I am happy we got to hug and talk at Puff’s party but man do I wish I could have told you one more time how much I love you. I am heartbroken. You were light. You were supportive. You were stunning. You were kind ALWAYS. You were creative. You were as real as they came. You were an incredible mother. You were rare. And I’ll forever miss you my Sagittarius sister.”
Viola Davis, Missy Elliott and Rihanna also paid tribute to Porter on social media, with the latter posting: “We lost a real one today, beautiful inside and out.
“So many will be affected by this, some won’t even know why…but the whole world was graced by the vibrance in your spirit.”
It’s understandable that many media outlets have chosen to name-check Diddy in the headlines about Porter’s death: he’s very famous, more so than she is, and will, of course, generate more clicks from readers. He is also no doubt grieving the loss of an important person in his life. But Porter wasn’t just Diddy’s ex – far from it. She was an actress, a producer, and an entrepreneur. She was a musician, and a model. She was a mother to four children. And she absolutely deserves to be remembered as a whole person, rather than the sum of her past relationships.