I Interviewed Kerry Washington at BlogHer.. and it was Awesome!

Got caught snapping at selfie with Kerry Washington backstage at BlogHer '14. I’ve noticed a pattern lately. When I write about some aspect of my life, I find myself “saying”, “I don’t usually get nervous, but…” I‘m antsy a lot these days. I wasn’t sure if it was some reaction to beginning to think of myself as a real adult (and the contrasting feeling of not feeling like one) after my most recent birthday or something else.

I sat and thought about it for awhile. It’s something else. I’m doing a lot of ish that I’ve never done before. Frankly, I’m out of my comfort zone. That’s good. I’m growing (not dying). But it also makes me well, nervous.

Sometime in early June, I was sitting in the Brooklyn coffee shop where I write everyday when I got an email from Allison Peters, Kerry Washington’s social media manager, asking that I give her a call. We met at SXSW in 2013. Allison introduced herself by saying she followed me on Twitter and was a fan of the blog. She was in Austin for a panel about “Scandal” and social media.

The e-mail sounded urgent. So I carried my iced coffee and my iPhone outside to lay on a bench and stare at the sky to contact her because this is how do business calls these days.

“Do you know your schedule for the end of July?” Allison asks once the pleasantries are out of the way.

There are a couple things on the table— Fashion Week in South Africa, NABJ in Boston, the Urban League conference in Cincinnati, a much-needed vacation to I-don’t-know-where, but-I–have-to-get-the-hell-out-of-here. But no contracts signed and no tickets bought yet.

“Nothing locked down. Why? What’s up?” I ask.

“Kerry is doing the keynote at BlogHer. Would you want to interview her?”

This is like asking, “When Jesus comes back, do you want to be in the 144?” Of course, I would want to interview Kerry Washington, but like as promo for her appearance at BlogHer? Or like at BlogHer? Eeek. I hadn’t planned on going this year.

“No, no,’ Allison explains. “Would you want to interview her on the main stage? A sit down interview with Kerry… for her keynote.”

Ohhhhhh!!!!! F**** yeah!!!!!!

What I say though is, “that sounds awesome. I’d love to make that happen.”

So she says the ladies from BlogHer will be in touch to set up the details, and if I could just send over my press kit and bio and she’ll take care of everything else.

We hang up and I call my manager and gush, “Ohmigod!!!!”, then call my publicist and do the exact same.

I lu-uh-uvvvv Kerry Washington, and I loved her in “I Think I Love My Wife” and “Last King of Scotland” and “Django”, but admittedly, I caught Kerry- fever, the Scandal equivalent of what I used to have for “Sex and the City” when she hit ABC prime time as the first black actress to lead a drama in my lifetime... which is f***ing crazy as I’m 35. Post- “Scandal” is when I started writing feel-good gushing articles about her like the one where I deemed her “The Queen of Repping Black Girls (with sense)”.

So the BlogHer ladies call, and the “details” are handled. Perfect.

And then what I just signed on for hits me, and I think, “OMG! What did I agree too?”


Me x Kerry Washington onstage for our interview at BlogHer '14

I’ve been a print/online journalist for 14 years now. I can interview anyone about anything if I have enough time to do the required research. And I always go hard researching because most people just read the press release and it annoys whoever you're interviewing. When you show up informed people will talk to you more and a whole lot longer than scheduled. That makes for a better interview and a better story.

The issue here is that I’m used to interviewing folks in more or less private—on the phone or a one-on-one sit down, often with a publicist nearby. The goal is always to have an interview that’s more like a conversation, again so people will get comfortable and tell you more, but if you miss an important query, you can always take a long pause (awkward silence) and circle back to get the information you need. The emphasis is on the information.

On stage (or TV), there’s less room for error. The flow has to be right, so does the pace. You’re trying to get information, but you also have to be entertaining. I mean, people are watching. I haven’t done an interview in front of a big audience—BlogHer is 3000— since 2011 at the Essence Music Festival (around 8000). I’m rusty.

I’ve done a fair amount of TV, but as of late, I’m the other side of the interview, answering instead of asking. I think about the content I want to share and how to present it, not what I want to gather and how. I’m on the easy side. All I have to do is answer. The interviewer controls the personality, the pace, and the program, or in the case of being on stage, the room. It’s not as simple as just throwing out questions.

So I spend the next few weeks in study mode, which means not only do I track down every major written story on Kerry Washington to find out the details of her backstory and what she’s been up to, I also watch all her major interviews. I want to know what she’s interested in and what makes her laugh and squirm. I overanalyze her personality to see how chatty she is to see how hard I have to work to get questions answered and make this a good interview. I’m also watching to see how the professionals – Ellen, Jimmy Kimmel, Queen Latifah, Oprah, etc.— pace their interviews and throw their questions so I can get it right, and potentially get Kerry to speak about her husband and daughter, which she’s notoriously private about. Getting an interviewee to open up about what they typically don’t is always the goal. Finally, I add her name to my Google alerts, so I’m up to date on all things Kerry.


I return from Panama on Wednesday. On Friday, I’m still exhausted, but BlogHer bound to San Jose for the big interview the next afternoon. I’m fueled on adrenaline.

Shortly after I get settled backstage on Saturday, in walks Kerry. It’s more than an hour ‘til showtime. Frankly, I wasn’t expecting her yet. Most major celebs will pop up at the absolute last minute. That, and right before they show up, there’s usually a sudden flurry of activity with people last-minute prepping to make sure everything is perfect for the celeb arrival. There’s none of that today.

Kerry just sort of appears with her publicist. She’s dressed Saturday casual in a cute pink top, jeans and sky-high black Loubs pumps. And she gives off the vibe of your best girlfriend, the one who you admire for her grace and always being (or seeming) effortlessly together. We hug “hello” and after greeting the organizers, she perches on the edge of the leather sofa and strikes up a convo with me. She knows about my trip to Panama, and asks if I’m doing Season Two of [The Show], which means she either reads my blog or follows me on Instagram. The person I’ve been studying has also been studying me. Go figure.

We talk a bit about how she’s juggling being a wife and mom. (I won’t give you deets because it wasn’t part of the interview, but I will say that though less guarded than she is in interviews, she’s still guarded. I am a journalist after all, and most celebs don’t trust us.)

There are two speakers set to go on before us. While the first is on stage, I use the downtime to go over my (long) outline. I thought we had an hour, we actually have 40 minutes, including a Q&A with the audience. I need to re-pace, cut out the clutter. I’ve got more than enough time, twenty minutes… or not.

One of the BlogHer organizers comes up to say they’re switching the pace. We’re up next. The second speaker (my blogger homie Luvvie Ajayi) will go after us now. We’ll take the stage as soon as the current speaker is up… in about 3 minutes.

Uh… ok.

The reaction to the interview was overwhelmingly positive. I felt good about it and I’m a hard critic on myself, so I’m going to go ahead and say I nailed it. I didn't get her to open up about her husband, but there were a couple cute moments where she heard a baby cry in the audience and started looking around. She joked about being a new mother and having an instinctual reaction.

UPDATE: Kerry Washington has spoken:

I woke up to this. Today is a good day.



Here are the (edited) highlights of the interview (courtesy of BlogHer):

Demetria Lucas: Scandal returns on September 25. Can you tell us anything at all about season 4?

Kerry Washington: Well, I now know where the plane was going.  I wish I could tell you cause it's really good. The way the last season ended
 with Olivia Pope is kind of what you would do to a character you were writing off of the show. I was a little concerned but I am still on the show which is good.
 It is like a reset button has been pushed. Last season, I feel like Olivia stepped away from it all to try to take some control over her life. So the new season picks up here.

DL: How do you balance your privacy with social media?

Kerry: I think it's ever evolving. Sometimes I tweet about my parents because I can't resist. I do tweet about my dog but not my marriage or my kids. As an actor, I feel like it's harder to lose yourself in my work if you know too much about me. You may have to do a little more work as an audience member to dive into my relationship with my coworkers. I like to keep my life a mystery so you can enjoy the story more.

DL: I think it makes you more interesting. As an audience, we still do appreciate actors who hold a bit more back.

KW: The fact that I don't share it doesn't mean it's more interesting. It's a lie. I'm incredibly boring. [Laughs]

DL: How do you deal with some of the backlash about the image of a black woman in Scandal?

Kerry: I think my job as an actor is to embody humanity. I often felt a lot of fulfillment by taking a character that someone may have thought of as a stereotype and infusing that character with as much humanity as possible. As an actor, I'm given the honor of giving you an inside look into that person's life and their heart. Stories of a homeless woman or a drug addict, as an actor, I can force you to feel for them by letting you into their life, into their mind. I think every human being has value, I never think it's ok to think a character is worthless because of something they have done. Part of being a Black woman and being able to work, means I get to tell stories about people we don't always pay attention to.

DL: How do you deal with the negative comments on social media?

KW: I don't weigh myself because there's never a good answer on the scale. For me reading comments is the same way. It's brain clutter. But it is hard, in social media you feel like you're a community. People in social media can be very mean. Some of our cast members have struggled it a lot. Sometimes people come to social media to find a community, a sense of belonging, a place where they feel like they can empower themselves. Often that can be a positive place. Sometimes it's done in really negative ways by building community through judgment and criticism and a holier than thou attitude. I have to protect myself from that because it's sort of high school. As much as I want to be part of that community, I don’t look to the social media community to affirm my work.

DL: How do you choose your roles?

KW: My roles have been all over the place. Up until Scandal, I've had a really full and rich career. I prided myself on disappearing into the character. People don't tie one character into the other. Scandal has changed that, because there's no disappearing. I'm in people's houses at the same time every week. For me the way I choose my work is the material. It's all in the page and the writing. Wanting to work with the writing and the directing, and immense talent.

DL: The number one overwhelming question I got for you from social media is, does she get to keep the clothes?

KW: Um…No. We didn't want the fashion on the show to be fake, where very episode has new episodes. I wanted the clothes to be amazing because I felt like this kind of women would have a global aesthetic but I wanted her to have a real closet. Every single episode has an item you've seen before. Often, 2 or 3 reused items. So there's a very big Olivia Pope closet. People tell me all the time I want her clothes, and I say, “me too!” I wish I could afford her clothes.

DL: How do you find the balance with your family, the show, and promotional activities? Where do you find time?

KW: I'm exhausted. But I feel we can all relate to that. Women are all natural multi taskers and even if we're not, we figure it out. The mom part is new to me so I don't know yet what the balance is like. I go back to work on Monday. Up to this point, it's been really important for me to ask for help and say when I don't know and to be part of a community of women. It's been an amazing experience for me to have a woman like Shonda Rhimes and her partner Betsy Beers as my bosses. I benefit from having a woman boss in ways that are even hard for me to articulate. It is so tremendous to work for a woman. Every time we don't step into a leadership role, we are robbing somebody. I bring it up because Shonda has taught me a lot about balance. She's got 3 kids and 3 shows. She has tremendous power and she wields her power with grace and responsibility, I learn a lot from her. We'll see how it goes.

DL: Who are your mentors in this business?

KW: I have heroes, Cicely Tyson, Diahann Carroll, and Barbara Streisand. People who say that they don't fit [like] Jane Fonda, Shaunda Rhymes. The movie “9 to 5” resulted in the union for administrative assistants because it brought to light the need for union because of abuse in the workplace of women. So Jane Fonda is a real mentor
 of mine.

DL: Do you have a dream role?

KW: No, I don't have a dream role. My mentors are ones who haven't allowed age to stop them. So for me, I don't have a dream role because I feel like the bar keeps moving. Maybe I'm scared to have a dream role because I feel like I'll have to retire after that.

Full transcript: HERE


Right before the interview got started, I joked that we should have brought our phones to the stage to take a picture of the audience. Kerry’s PR brought hers to her and I suggested she take a crowd selfie, or er, “usie”? It turned out awesome.

Kerry Washington takes an "usie" with the BlogHer audience.


The Root: Dear Jealous Guys, It's Ok That You Don't Look Like Jeremy Meeks

Jeremy Meeks aka Prison Bae has brought out the worst in SOME men.  

Fact: Jeremy Meeks is fine. OK, technically, that’s an opinion, but it seems the vast majority of people—including a couple of modeling agencies—share it, so let’s just say it’s close to fact.

Meeks—the convicted felon with chiseled features, eyes the color of a Caribbean ocean and café au lait complexion—who has drawn the “likes” of upward of 120,000 appreciative women, and men, on the Internet landed on our radar last week via an unlikely source: his mug shot. The police department in Stockton, Calif., makes a habit of posting its alleged criminals on Facebook, and Meeks, an alleged gang member who landed in jail with five felony weapons charges, fit the bill.

The massive e-fawning for Meeks has ticked off his brother, his wife and various men around the Internet who just don’t get how women can get riled up over a man with a criminal past bearing the “thug” trappings of neck tattoos and a teardrop under his eye.

Somehow being attracted to a picture of an attractive man has become the latest example of black women having screwed-up priorities, and yet another way to blame black women for the downfall of black relationships (and everything else). As the most popular theory goes, if black women—all black women, no exceptions—were less superficial and could actually pick a decent non-thug mate, the world would be a better place.

To which I say: Stop. It’s not that serious. Men, we might not like it, but we understand why you watch videos, flip through King and Complex magazines and scroll through Instagram to ogle random women with extraordinary backsides. Their husbands or children, their virtue, morals or criminal leanings don’t even cross your minds. From your seat on the bus, from your cubicle at the office or sprawled on the couch, you fantasize about that a-- and what you would like to do with it, “if” you had the chance, which you don’t. The same applies for Meeks and the women who adore his looks.

Meeks, aka #PrisonBae, has a face to rival Tyson Beckford’s. Women—and men—find him attractive despite his seeming fondness for trap life, not so much because of it. At best, the fantasy for most women is about one night only, on vacation, so no one will know. It’s only his wife and the crazies, by far the minority, who actually want to contribute to his commissary and donate to his bail. Everybody else is passing the day looking and “liking.” Next.

I’d like to offer a tough love, “get out of your feelings” directive here for menfolk who are blowing this whole thing out of proportion. But your feelings run too deep for that to work. I’ll address them instead.

You know this isn’t about women liking a so-called thug, right? A whole lot of men get sour every time black women like anyone. Earlier this year, there was that whole “I’m Sorry I’m Not Idris Elba” poem that men were passing around like it was a 65 percent Polo discount. Elba is nobody’s thug (playing one on The Wire does not make him one). In fact, by most accounts, he’s a pretty great bloke who spends his down time on daddy duty and in a DJ booth. And yet “regular” men were passive aggressively upset that he got to be a #ManCrushMonday on social media and not them. Apparently a woman liking a movie star was a sign of “disrespect.”

You know the same thing happens every time Scandal airs on TV and women go ga-ga for white guys Jake and Fitz and not the nice, but kinda corny black guy. (Somehow the adoration for black Harrison and his attainable nerd-gingham gets overlooked.) If only we could fawn over the “regular” black guy on the screen, in life and in our fantasies, all would be right with the world.

The men who feel it will never admit it, but women going wild for a man with looks they will never attain makes them jealous.


Read the full story on The Root 

Donald Sterling Blows His Apology Tour

Sterling vitsed Anderson Cooper.. and blew it. I thought it would be impossible to loathe still-Clippers owner Donald Sterling any more than I did after hearing his secretly recorded remarks in which he asked his half-black female companion to stop publicly associating with black people or bringing them to Clippers games and also threw Magic Johnson under the bus.

I also thought that maybe now that Sterling has been banned from all NBA events and is in jeopardy of losing ownership of the Clippers, he would have some sort of wake-up call about just how bad his antiquated outlook on “minorities” is. Or, at the very least, he’d be paranoid enough about his private thoughts that he would strike a more politically correct note in public. My bad.

On Monday, Sterling sat for a one-on-one interview with Anderson Cooper, his first at-length statements since the fracas. This was the beginning of an apology tour. A little late—two weeks after the fuss—but better late than never, I figured.

We—and certainly Sterling’s PR team—have seen enough successful acts of public contrition, fromTiger WoodsKobe Bryant and Melisa Harris-Perry, to name a few, that show how this is supposed to go. A proper mea culpa includes 1) a deeply felt, “I am sorry”; 2) acknowledgment of wrongdoing; 3) acknowledgment of pain caused; and 4) a personal apology shout-out to the people most offended.

If Sterling could have managed this, maybe there was the slightest chance that his fellow owners, who have yet to vote on whether he can remain owner of the Clippers, would show mercy and let him keep the team. (Far-fetched, I know, but he’s rich and white and male; they tend to get away with things most don’t.) Maybe Sterling’s enduring legacy would be more than the sugar daddy who liked to go on racist rants with his half-black alleged girlfriend. At the very least, with a proper apology, we could all wrap up this chapter in crazy news stories and move on to other fare.

But no. No. No No! Sterling blew the interview. He has enough money to buy the best crisis-management team in the business, and because it’s so dang simple to just apologize, there was no way he should have got this one wrong. He either has the worst publicist on earth or he just ignored any and all instruction. The interview was so appallingly bad that Cooper spent half of it wearing an expression that read, “Dude, you can’t be serious.”

Sterling apologized multiple times, but the tone was off. It came across as more like, “OK, I’m saying it, now forgive me,” than something he actually meant. But no one remembers it even happened because of all his other baffling remarks, including how “the blacks” want to play golf with him and, more outrageously, his new round of remarks about Magic Johnson, whom Sterling incorrectly referred to as having AIDS, even after Cooper corrected him. (Johnson is HIV-positive. There’s a difference.) E

“He acts so holy,” Sterling said of Johnson, who he claimed advised him to remain quiet after the initial scandal broke two weeks ago. “He made love to every girl in every city in America and he had AIDS, and when he had those AIDS, I went to my synagogue and I prayed for him, I hope he could live and be well. I didn’t criticize him. I could have. Is he an example for children?"

Let me get this straight: A long-married man—whose recent public implosion is the result of the recorded conversations possibly leaked by his alleged mistress, whom his wife sued for almost $2 million—is judging someone else’s alleged sexcapades from more than 20 years ago? Pot meet kettle.

Read more on The Root

Leading the Brigade of Bitter Black Men

short-mayweather-she-matters.jpg.CROP.rtstoryvar-largeMany months ago I was having a conversation with a group of women about whether women could be good leaders. Yes, I know. Yes, in 2013. Anyway, I, of course, said yes, women can lead. Another woman said no, in fact, women would not make good leaders because they are too emotional (because of PMS).

Men, however, were not emotional, she reasoned. They are logical and rational and all things well thought out and planned. (Months later, she followed up that conversation to say that if she had to choose between two leaders, one man vs. one woman, that she, a woman, would choose the man because of something like men have more sense. Sigh.)

If ever that conversation comes up again—and I’m sure it will—I will use the recent antics of boxer Floyd Mayweather and former Scandal star Columbus Short to counter her poor argument. These two are the new exhibits A for men with mismanaged emotions, bad logic, and just plain poor judgment.

Last Thursday Mayweather, who should have been focused on his then-upcoming fight, decided it was a great idea to publish the alleged medical records of his former fiancee, Shantel Jackson, whom he broke up with a year ago. Mayweather posted a photo to Instagram of what he indicated were Jackson’s sonogram pictures with documents showing that she had aborted their twins. The caption read: “The real reason me and Shantel Christine Jackson broke up was because she got an abortion and I’m totally against killing babies. She killed our twin babies.”

Maybe Mayweather thought that people would think his ex was a horrible person for having had an abortion, but the general sentiment of dismay was directed squarely at him. Viewers were appalled and found his latest stunt—the most recent in several antagonistic acts toward his ex—deplorable. For many who didn’t know or didn’t care why the couple broke up, suddenly it made sense why she wouldn’t want to be with him, because who does that to their ex? And for those who may have cared enough about their relationship to follow it and thought Mayweather’s ex was in it for the money, his latest actions did more to clear her name than harm it.

Can we talk like adults here? There’s a blueprint for rich, celebrity men and the gorgeous women who date them. Part of the architecture of these arrangements is the woman gets pregnant and attempts to guarantee herself an 18-year payday. Jackson was pregnant with twins by a multimillionaire. She chose to walk away from that situation with no strings attached. Instead of speculating about Jackson’s morals, as I’m sure Mayweather anticipated, everyone was wondering how bad Mayweather is as a companion that she passed on what many would consider a “come up.” His actions revealed a lot—in a good way—about Jackson’s character.

Short, amid a post-Scandal spiral, apparently missed Mayweather’s backlash, because on Sunday he took a page from Mayweather’s How to Be a Bitter Ex handbook and allegedly released video footage of his estranged wife—the same wife who recently alleged that he attacked her in their home and threatened to kill her and himself—fighting another woman. I guess he was trying to sway public opinion to show that he was the victim in their relationship. The video shows Short’s wife overpowering another woman and calling her a “bitch.” Out of context, it looks bad. But is it?

The alleged backstory is that Short was put out of the marital home after his wife accused him of beating her. The following day, he showed up to collect his belongings with another woman in tow, a woman who entered the house.

I’m going on record as saying violence should be avoided whenever possible. However, it’s a rare person who is going to find complete fault with a wife who goes off when another woman is in her home and refuses to leave.


Read more: here


Why Columbus Short Needed To Exit 'Scandal'

Columbus Short Just when Scandal fans thought they'd said goodbye to their beloved show for the season, they received an unexpected opportunity to revel in the drama of their favorite primetime TV soap opera—for all the wrong reasons. On Friday night, ABC announced the departure of series regular Columbus Short. It was one of the few Scandal plot twists that viewers saw coming.

On the season three finale of Scandal, Short’s character, Harrison Wright, was shown facing the business end of a gun just after receiving a tongue lashing from the show’s father figure, Eli Pope, who acknowledged he was “young, gifted and black” and wasting his talent. The sentiment seemed to apply to the character Short played as much as it did to the man himself.

Short had been unraveling in recent weeks. He was arrested in March--his second time—after a bar fight. In early April, his wife filed a restraining order against him after he allegedly held her at knifepoint, then threatened to kill her and himself. It was his third allegation of domestic abuse. Then came a bizarre radio interview on Tom Joyner where he dropped the infamous N-bomb.

Short released a brief statement about his exit: "At this time, I must confirm my exit from a show I've called home for 3 years, with what is the most talented ensemble in television history."

On social media, fans assumed Harrison had been murdered in cold blood and responded with the hashtag “RIP Harrison.” Scandal fanatic and humor writer  Luvvie Ajayi, who become popular for live-tweeting the show each week, created a mock-program for the character’s funeral service that quickly became popular on Facebook and Instagram. Others wondered openly if ABC and show creator Shonda Rhimes had jumped the gun by releasing Short amid only allegations of domestic violence.

Domestic violence is no joke, even if it’s often treated like one. Some would say the alleged events of his personal life shouldn’t have an affect on his career but it’s also quite possible that as the co-star of a hit network show fueled by corporate dollars, he could be dismissed for bad behavior—or strong allegations of such. And let’s be real, the guy who, in just one month’s time, is accused of battering his wife and also gets into a bar fight has some issues.


Read more on The Root

Uptown: Demetria L. Lucas The Anti-Reality TV, Reality TV Star

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 6.40.45 AM I don’t like watching reality TV shows, especially the programs that have a penchant for making Black folks look corny as hell. It’s not that I think I’m better than anyone who does enjoy these shows (like my sister, who says these programs help her de-stress after long days of school as she attains her master’s degree), but I just find the bickering and bullshit annoying (hell, I can get that in my own life). So when I heard that Bravo was releasing a new show called “Blood, Sweat and Heels“, I instantly rolled my eyes and attempted to change the channel as fast as I could – until someone very familiar popped up on my screen: Demetria Lucas.

I know Demetria through her strong writing as an advocate for the empowerment of Black women and an opinionated critic of relationships and everything that comes along with them. The reason I couldn’t change the channel was because I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that Demetria, a harsh critic of reality TV and its presentations of Black women, was doing on a show that, from the trailer, appeared to be everything she once denounced.

After watching the first episode, I realized something very significant about Demetria Lucas – of all the women on the show, she is not only the best at branding her business, but she is also (intentionally or unintentionally) positioning herself as an “anti-reality TV, reality TV star”. So getting the opportunity to sit down and talk with her was intriguing.

Lincoln Anthony Blades: The big question I have, as someone who writes and blogs, is how did this opportunity come up? And what did you think about it when it was first presented to you?

Demetria Lucas: Oh, my first thought was hell no. I’ve been approached to do reality shows several times, and someone reached out to my manager and said “we’d like for Demetria to consider it” and when she called me I was like “no, no, no this is not gonna happen. I’m not doing reality TV.” If you follow my work I’ve been very critical of the portrayal of Black women on television, and [my manager] was like “I think this is different, give it a shot” and I trust her, so I said ‘OK, let me see, I’ll hear them out.” So I met with the production team, I met some of the other ladies on  the show, and I liked that they all had good backgrounds and I thought maybe this would be different because the women here have something to lose. We’re not here to be famous, we’re not independently wealthy, we have to work for a living, so our reputations matter. So I think this might be something different and I think this might be a good opportunity. It took me a minute to sign on, but I eventually came around.

LAB: So, just to go off what you were saying before, there’s been a lot of campaigns like Michaela Angela Davis’ “Bury The Ratchet” campaign where she’s gone after everything from Love & Hip-Hop to Married to Medicine to the Real Housewives of Atlanta. If someone was to say that your show is like these other shows or asked you to prove your show is different, how would you explain that “Blood, Sweat & Heels” should not be considered ratchet?

DL: Well, I can say that there is no fighting, no bottle throwing, no over-the-top physical antics. I think you saw there is some psychological stuff, you know I got ambushed at a dinner table which I definitely didn’t appreciate. But you know what? Michaela has been a friend and mentor of mine for years. She is someone that I ran this by and she let me know very clearly what her expectations were of me. She’s known me for a while and she said “You know what I expect”. I hope, in that sense, that I gave it to her. But I do think the show tackles some deeper issues that working women deal with like, can a woman lead? How do you balance a career and a relationship? It gets tricky sometimes, but I think those conversations aren’t being had on Housewives. These women are married, most of them are in stable relationships and you don’t get the nitty gritty of that. We are all women who’ve sacrificed a lot of our personal lives in order to pursue our careers. And I think there’s always the question hanging over us of, was it worth it? Does it all balance out at the end? Do we get to have it all? So I think in that sense we are a little different than the other shows you see on television.

LAB: Recently, a lot of people have been saying that this is a great time for Black women in television because of Sasheer Zamata being hired on SNL with two other black writers, and shows like Being Mary Jane and Scandal, which have won awards. Do you think that your show contributes to what is a pretty good time for Black women in television?

DL: Absolutely. You know, for so long there’s been a conversation about Black women. There’ve been these studies and conversations on Nightline, The Washington Post and The New Yorkerand Psychology Today. Everyone was talking about Black women but this is the first time you’re really seeing Black women control their own narrative. In terms of Being Mary Jane, Mara Brock Akil is at the helm of that. Shonda Rhimes is at the helm of Scandal. For our show, we’re in control of what comes out of our mouths and  how we behave.


After the interview was over and I watched more of Blood, Sweat and Heels, its become even clearer that Demetria doesn’t fall into any typical Black reality TV caricature. She’s not a kept woman, or an anti-intellectual who thinks the underground railroad was an actual train. She’s not the backstreet brawler or the hood-chick playing bougie. It really seems like she’s essentially the voice of people with common sense who watch these shows shaking their head in disgust. In my opinion, Blood, Sweat and Heels (with this current cast) won’t do much to empower Black women or change the perception of professional African-American women in New York, but it may just be the platform to something bigger and better, kinda like the early ratchet Oprah years that preceded the far classier “Book Club” days.

Well, at least one can hope.


Read the complete article here


Ask Demetria: Do Scandal & Being Mary Jane Condone Adultery? (Sigh...)

photo“Do you think shows like Scandal and Being Mary Jane are condoning adultery or man-sharing to black women? It’s strange that the only two noticeable scripted shows about black women show them as ‘the other woman.’ I see so many women rooting for them. Is adultery ‘in style’ now?” —Anonymous

There have always been, and always will be, adulterous relationships—on TV and in real life. Adultery has also always been a staple of any dramatic series because of the messiness that is a natural byproduct of toying with emotions and betraying bonds. There is no recent study that points to a rise in adultery in the real world, especially not as attributed to these two TV shows.

That said, I’ve never understood the long-standing “Scandal condones adultery” argument, and I don’t understand the more recent assertion that Being Mary Jane does, too. I watch (and live-tweet) both shows, and I’ve never seen more miserable women. If anything, Being Mary Janeand Scandal show the downside of being the other woman.

Scandal’s Olivia Pope is emotionally tortured by her involvement with a powerful and married man. She gets stolen moments with him and some backroom romps. She’s constantly having to keep up appearances by downplaying or hiding her relationship, and as much as her lover insists that she’s his No. 1, Olivia “plays her position” as second fiddle whenever his wife is around.

Olivia is a powerful presence in every other occasion, but she is ashamed and embarrassed in the presence of her lover’s wife. She also operates almost entirely on her lover’s schedule and whims. Sometimes he’s into her; sometimes he’s discarding her. At the start of the third season, the affair was made public, and she nearly lost her business when all of her clients bailed and most of her money was spent. Nothing about her adultery seems glamorous.

In the case of Mary Jane, the ramifications of adultery look even worse. She’s confronted by her lover’s wife at her job and asked humiliating questions about her sexual practices with the wife’s husband. While she experiences emotional highs when she’s with him, when she’s without him—which is most of the time—she’s self-loathing.

In the most recent episodes of the show, her brother, who knows of her affair, goads their long-married mother into discussing adultery. Mary Jane squirms as her mother unknowingly describes her daughter as vile and incapable of “cultivating a man.” As the episode closes, Mary Jane is home alone and manically texting her lover, who doesn’t answer because he’s having sex with his wife. The next morning, he still hasn’t bothered to respond.

What’s so glamorous about that?


Read more: here