VH1’s Sorority Sisters, the network’s latest ensemble cast of African-American women, has been embattled in controversy since a trailer for the show leaked in June. That trailer inspired a petition to keep it from airing, which was signed by thousands. Despite the backlash before the show even began, Sorority Sisters debuted in December to an audience of 1.3 million and was the No. 1 nonsports cable program in the time period among women 18-49, according to VH1.
Twitter had a collective meltdown over the show and advertisers, such as Coca-Cola, Hallmark, State Farm and the NBA, bailed left and right. New calls for boycotts have emerged. Yet, weeks later, Sorority Sisters still exists and VH1 chose to address the controversy surrounding the show on-air in an unprecedented “impromptu sit-down” with the cast on Monday night.
The Root caught up with one of the show’s most outspoken participants, April McRae, often dubbed “the sane one” or “the smart one” (she’s currently pursuing a doctorate degree) by viewers. The Atlanta born-and-bred entrepreneur and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority spoke candidly with The Root about the behind-the-scenes drama, the social media backlash and the price of being (in)famous.
April McRae: I received an email in 2013 looking for women who had pledged sororities and about their lives beyond their college years how they had continued to give back to the community. I replied immediately. I thought it would be a good opportunity to show my business.
TR: Did you know any of the women on the show before you began taping?
AM: No, I didn’t know any of the ladies until it was close to filming. We met on camera.
TR: When I did Blood, Sweat & Heels, it was “sold” to me as something entirely different from what it became. Was Sorority Sisters presented to you initially as something different from what it actually is?
AM: I was reluctant. I know the branding that VH1 has. But I was convinced that they were rebranding and they wanted to put out more positive shows, and this show would be the start to this new image that VH1 is going to create. This show and Atlanta Exes were going to be the start of rebranding for the African-American community, especially women.
TR: Did you expect any backlash for participating in the show?
AM: I expected a response but not a backlash, certainly nothing to this degree. Not to the point of boycotted, not to be recommended to be kicked out of my sorority. It’s all unfortunate.
TR: What has the backlash from the show been like for you personally?
AM: Nearly all of [the cast members] have received death threats. I read a message from a woman that said, “Being on the show, you committed suicide. I should help you do it” or something like that. I’ve had people come to my building. Thankfully, I live in a high-rise with security. It’s been a challenge to go on social media and see threats and comments and derogatory things about me. Some of the people that say they are [black] Greeks. Most are not. But those that are in black Greek-letter organizations should hold themselves to the same standard they hold us to. There’s a lot of hypocrisy going on.
TR: Has anyone from the leadership of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. reached out to you?
Read more on THE ROOT