Reality stars never cease to amaze me. Namely, one Evelyn Lozada, but that’s neither here nor there. Vibe recently interviewed Evelyn of Basketball Wives, alongside Tamar Braxton of Braxton Family Values, Kandi Burrus of RHOA, and Chrissy Lampkin, formerly of Love & Hip Hop fame. The interview addresses the violence and drama fueled fights often highlighted on these shows, and the women, one in particular, seems to like laughing all the way to the bank. I was, however, extremely impressed to see Chrissy take responsibility for her temper. It’s a long interview, so I’m just sharing my favorite highlights. You can read the whole discussion here, and try not to laugh when Tamar says Evelyn is beautiful “inside and out.” Enjoy excerpts from that interview below!
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VIBE: Star Jones started a petition, lashing out against women and violence on reality TV. What’s your reaction?
Evelyn: [Bursts into laughter] I think she’s going to have to get a whole lot of names. Actually, I like the petition and I like the controversy because I’ve learned controversy is good. But I think she’s irrelevant. And she’s using our coattails to get relevant again. Nobody gives a f*ck about her.
Chrissy: Whatever Star Jones is feeling is a little deeper than what she sees. I think she has her own issues.
Kandi: She may not be violent, but I’m sure she goes off on people in her day-to-day. I just don’t think it’s fair to block somebody from getting money.
Did any of you foresee your show being as big as it is today?
Chrissy: I knew when they put that punch and kick in the trailer that would catch people’s eye. People watch reality TV for train wrecks. People wanna excuse their own bullsh!t and tune into yours.
Tamar: There aren’t a lot of female African-American shows, better yet about sisters [on television], which I think is very important, not just for the Braxtons but…
Kandi: There’s a lot of things about your show that I like. I like the fact that you guys are an entertainment family. I think people love the whole music side of things, being able to see the behind-the-scenes of your careers. I thought that’s what I brought to Housewives—Atlanta is a beautiful town and you get to see that, but you get to see that people who are quote, unquote “celebrities” have normal real life issues.
What surprised you most about the reality TV experience?
Kandi: Being a part of Housewives brought me so many opportunities that I would’ve never imagined. With the Kandi Factory spin-off, it was a dream of mine to be on one of those shows developing artists, and here it is, I [have] my own show.
Evelyn: For me, it was that so many people cared. They’re so emotionally involved and interested with what’s going on in your life. I watch shows but I’m never like, “Let me find this person’s Twitter or Facebook page so I can comment.” Even before the show it just wasn’t me. But people get so emotionally involved with what you’re doing, what you’re saying, what you’re wearing, how you handle this situation, so that surprised me. You think everyone watches TV the way you watch TV.
Evelyn, you’ve practically raised a scholar. Yet, you’re on television screaming that you’d have no problem catching a court case. Do you ever look back at episodes with embarrassment?
Tamar: [Interjects] No. It’s television entertainment and at the end of the day that’s what matters. The networks want what makes the papers. But we’re blessed to be in a situation to show people a part of our life, to see us going through different changes, how we can be a better person. People can learn from our mistakes. I’m sure Evelyn didn’t get on TV and want to throw a bottle at somebody. But hey, that’s life. So maybe the next time somebody gets you out of your character you’ll know not to throw a bottle.
Evelyn: As crazy as it sounds, sometimes I’m glad I have the show because it’s sort of like a mirror. Most people don’t get to see the crazy things that they’ve done. So I’ll see it and go… [Grimaces].
Since all of the uproar over Basketball Wives, and people reevaluating what they want to watch on television, the women on these shows started pointing fingers…and they weren’t pointing them at Evelyn’s mirror! Why blame your bad behavior on bad decisions when you can blame them on the bad producers? Oh, and whatever you do, don’t call Evelyn a role model!
Chrissy: I was easily angered because I signed up for something that was supposed to be about girl power and women embracing each other in this crazy world of hip-hop. I thought it was gonna be more of a support thing instead of Gladiators. They would always bring somebody to challenge me. I would knock ’em down and they would bring somebody else.
So you’re saying the producers orchestrated the violence?
Chrissy: Absolutely. They would go as far as telling the new girl, “Chrissy thinks she’s Queen Bee around here so we need you to step up because nobody here has a strong enough personality. We need you to shut it down.” They were feeding people this negative energy from the door. I have no reason to lie.
Kandi: If [the producers] know this person and that person don’t get along, they’ll be like, “Okay, we want you guys to go to lunch.” They know if they have a conversation about what’s going on, something’s gonna jump off. But nobody can make you physically punch somebody in the face. We end up doing that to ourselves from people being real disrespectful in the way they’re speaking to each other, pointing fingers all in people’s faces. Some people just can’t take that.
On the flipside, people can’t see the producers setting you up. Do you guys ever feel regret?
Chrissy: Absolutely. It’s like, why did I let them get me that angry? It’s compromising to your soul because I didn’t sign up for this, but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna allow somebody to make a fool of me because the cameras are rolling.
Evelyn: I do and [the bottle incident] was one of those things where I was like, “That was wrong.” The producers of the show could have edited that out but I take full responsibility. I mean, [Kenya] has kids at home.
Do any of you see yourselves as role models?
Evelyn: As a parent I didn’t raise my daughter to look up to somebody on TV as a role model. I want her to look up to her mother, her family as role models. Also, I have nieces who watch the show and love it. So I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place because I’m being me but now I’m coming to the realization that I can’t do… I wouldn’t want my nine-year-old watching this, but their parents do. So I said to myself recently, “Young girls are watching the show. I really need to check myself.” Before reality TV was what it was, I had full control over my daughter’s television because you never know what they’re showing. Every parent isn’t like that. It’s not for me to judge but we’re talking a lot about sex; sometimes there are sexy scenes. I think it’s a little inappropriate, but regardless, I don’t think children should be looking up to reality TV stars as role models.
So, thoughts? I just can’t get over the mentality some of the women have. I am also glad that Evelyn has finally decided to “check herself.” I think Sheree Whitfield would be super proud, boo!
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[Photo Credit: Ivan Nikolov/Johnny Louis/D. Salters/ WENN]