Recap: Match Made in Heaven, Ep. 3: Meet Mama Maggie

Mama Maggie is all smiles... unless you cross her or Shawn. There are 15 women left in the house, down from the original 24. Two ladies voluntarily left, 7 were kicked out. With these numbers, “Match Made in Heaven” is looking more like “Survivor” than dating show.

Two of the women that left provided a good portion of the drama/ ratchet antics on the show, And since this is reality TV, everyone can’t be well-adjusted. So who’s gonna turn up? Um. That would be Shawn’s mama, Maggie. (And of course, Dolly.)

At first, Mama seems pretty chill. After Shawn introduces her, Mama conducts a polite receiving line of hugs as the girls greet her. But we know from the commercials that Mama has another side. Infamously, she threatened to “f--- up a b----h” for coming at her son the wrong way.

Mama Maggie will be staying at the house. Shawn explains to his harem, “you are the princesses. She is the queen.” Got it? He adds that he will make his own decisions, “but her influence will weight heavy on my mind and my heart.” Translation: I’m not a mam’s boy, but I love my mama.

With Shawn standing nearby, Mom tells the ladies, to be themselves and “enjoy the ride. And at the end we will se who wise my young son’s heart.” What she means is, you see me standing here, act like you have some sense and I might put in a good word. When Shawn leaves, the real Mama Maggie, the one from the trailers, seeps out. “I can be sweet. I can even be your best friend,” she tells the women. “But I can be your worst enemy as well.” Oh.

Mama is unimpressed with the cleanliness of the house. There are clothes, luggage, and a surprising amount of drying hair weave everywhere. To credit, the women don’t have a lot of space. One room has at least 8 beds in it. These chicks are sleeping like they’re in barracks. I don’t get it. We’ve seen the panoramic view of this mansion. Surely, there’s enough space so the women don’t have to bunk up. However, a bunch of people sleeping in close quarters is a guaranteed way to cause drama.

Still, there’s no excuse for all of the unmade beds. (Confession: I don’t make my bed everyday. But when my room is shown on TV, it is.) Mama is appalled. “What makes them think that my son wants a dirty ass woman?” she asks.

Mama picks a space in the largest room and has the production staff set up a Queen size bed just for her among all the bunks. Catch that subliminal shade.


Today’s group date is at the casino. Shawn is doing his best James Bond impression. He begins by flirting with Alexandria aka Nes’s house boo. Nes doesn’t like the idea of Shawn and Alex hooking up without her, so she tells Shawn, “we’re a package deal, so what you gonna do?” Was that a threesome offer? Shawn thinks so. He squeezes them both into a hug, as Mecca stares at them like a menacing villain from across the room.

Shawn eventually wanders away to find out what the other ladies are up to. At the Texas Hold Em table, he mutters something about “every move being a good move as long as you make a move.” This is all the encouragement Angela, a busty blonde, who’s been leaning over the table to show off her cleavage to Shawn, needs. She asks him to meet her outside so they can have some time alone, which in reality TV world means “let’s make out!”

Mama’s “hussy radar” goes off. She doesn’t see Shawn, so she wanders into the parking lot to find Angela and Shawn tonguing each other down. Needless to say, the make out session comes to an abrupt end and all three head back inside.

Angela ans Shawn are embarrassed after Mama catches them making out.

Pastor J is there now, and he’s got a challenge. He wants all the ladies, who are all dolled up, of course, to remove their make up in exchange for a slow dance with Shawn, and maybe a one-on-one date later.

“One of the easiest things you should ever do is show the real you, “ Pastor J says. True. He also wants Shawn to see what he could be waking up to in the morning. To credit, the girls are all still quite attractive sans make up.

Khalena bails. “My mom always told me you take it off one layer at a time. You don’t shock the man,” she says. I’m with her mama on this one.

Shawn picks Phoenix for the date. He, still in his tux, takes her, still in her gown, to “the hood”. He says that back in 2008 he was living in a similar spot.   Their date takes place in an unfinished basement, replete with sleeping bags, wine in brown paper bags and PB& J sandwiches. I ain’t even mad at this date. When you really connect with someone, it doesn’t matter where you are, just who you’re with.

Phoenix doesn’t flinch at the cheap date. She’s had her own hard times as a single mom, and she and her son were once on welfare. She gets it. Shawn cries, then they cuddle. I’m adding Phoneix to my list of suitable choices for Shawn along with Mecca.

The following morning, Pastor J sends a letter to the house saying he wants Shawn to do a one-on-one date with Khalena, who bailed on the make-up challenge. Khalena contours her face, adds some tracks, gets fancy and heads out to their date in wine country.

Khalena aka "Barbie" does not do the "roll over" face in public.

Of course, Shawn wants to know why Khalena didn’t take off her make up for him. She explains succinctly: “the roll over face is for the roll over.” Still not mad at her (or her mama). Shawn is amused. They toast “to the roll over”, then head to an above ground pool that’s been set up in the middle of the vineyard. It’s odd—and clearly a production prop—but I’m down for anything that includes Shawn taking his shirt off. Good job, producers.

Back at the house, Pastor J has a new challenge: temptation. He presents the ladies with apples. If one of the women bite the apple, it will bring Khalena’s date with Shawn to the end. While the women contemplate, what to do Mama Maggie reminds them “jealousy is a curse”. But, “this is a competition,” she adds.

Dolly decides to bite the apple. “[Khalena] didn’t take her make up off the other night. She does not deserve this date,” Dolly reasons. Fair enough. Angelique bites as well. “I just want him to come back and barbeque with us,” she explains. “Is that too much to ask for?”

At the vineyard, Shawn and Khalena are lounging in the pool making googly eyes at each other and about to share their first kiss when suddenly the pool breaks down and they go sliding into the mud. Producers show up (off camera) to tell Shawn there’s an emergency at the house and he has to go. And he has to leave Khalena at the vineyard. She has about the epic meltdown you would expect about being muddy and left behind.

When Khalena returns to the house, she is understandably pissed. Producers have filled her in on what happened, and she is out for blood, figuratively speaking.

Dolly speaks up and take responsibility for ruining her date. “I’m not remorseful,” she says. “It’s a comp.e.tition.” Dolly claps in Khalena’s face to emphasize each syllable, and the girls end up tussling with Mama Maggie looking on. The housemates break it up. This is Dolly’s second fight and I am entirely over her.

Later, Alexandria tearfully apologizes to Khalena for ruining her date. They hug and make up.

Now it’s time for the third elimination. Shawn, who looks glorious in his grey suit and sparkling diamond earrings (I got a thing for that), sits down with his Mom to get her thoughts on the princesses of the house. She’s no fan of Angela, “the hussy.”

Shawn also talks to Pastor J, who isn’t so much a fan of Dolly. Shawn, however likes that Dolly is ride-or-die. Surely, it helps the show that she keeps some drama going, so I don’t see her going home anytime soon.

Pastor J offers Alexandria immunity, which I’m sure makes Nes happy.

To the phones!! Mecca is over this ish. “’I’m just ready for these seat fillers to exit the premises.” I like this chick. Of course, she gets a “please stay” text.

Angela’s going to the bridge, as is Brandy, whose made no impression. Christina – not E.--- is going home. She guesses that she wasn’t assertive enough. So is Dani, who received immunity from Pastor J last week. Dolly, for a second time, and Khalena are headed to the bridge as well.

Angela gets sent back first. “You have a tough task with my mother in the house,” Shawn warns. Mom is not happy.

Shanwn isn’t too thrilled about the fight between Khalena and Dolly, but he likes Dolly's passion, and respects Dolly’s jealousy. Both of them will stay.

Bye-bye Brandy.

What did you think of tonight’s episode?

NOTE: I’ve learned that the show is taking a hiatus after this episode, and will return at a later, not-yet-given date. I’ll be tuning in. Will you?

Recap: Match Made in Heaven Ep. 2: Meet the (Sorta) Virgins

Match Made in Heaven's Shawn & Mecca have a dessert date in a place know one can figure out. This episode “held no cut cards”, as we like to say in the DMV. We have “conflict" straight out the gate. Our bachelor, Shawn, is 32, and Phoenix, 33, and Jen, 29, think Shawn should be with an “older” woman, someone closer to his age, instead of one of the house’s gaggle of early twenty-somethings.  Um, they’re right, but Mercedes, 22, doesn’t agree and is offended.

Phoenix points out, “This is supposed to be about finding the love of your life and they’re here taking body shots.” Again, Phoenix ain’t lie. The issue here is that Phoenix and Jen are over 30 and pushing 30. They want a husband yesterday. Most of the younger girls know they have time to kill and they’re not as focused. If they are single at 29, and 33, and want husbands/families, they will probably be more like Phoenix and Jen.

Anyway, Mercedes rants to the other women about her elders and Dolly points out, “if you’re sitting up here in this competition and you worried about what somebody has to say to you, you need to go home." Welp.

Somehow this angers Victoria, who reminds me of an German Coco (Ice T’s wife), and she and Dolly almost brawl. Victoria is also the most ratchet white chick ever to make TV. I don’t buy this fight. It’s made-for-tv madness.

Mecca, 22, pipes in to give the stereotypical “I’m not here for any of you” line that must be given at least once per reality TV competition show. She may be fresh off the breast, but she is focused. Take that, Phoenix and Jen.

Dolly is obsessed with Mecca, a New York socialite, for having the sides of her hair shaved. She says her edges look like pubic hair. As a habit, I don’t snark on people’s appearance. (I don't like it when it's done to me.) But Dolly, have you seen your weave? You don't have room to make fun of others.

Pastor J arrives and informs the ladies that they will have a “group” date, i.e., one man and 20 women, volunteering for Habitat for Humanity to build homes. All the ladies wear tight clothes and put on full faces of make-up. I mean, this is a date. Victoria wears sandals to do construction. She’s told to stand on the sidewalk.

Mecca and Phoenix flirt as they work. They are experts at this. Take notes.

Shawn gets a text from Pastor J. Um.. I think he’s nervous because he’s reading like Floyd Mayweather. It’s time for his first one-on-one date. He picks Mecca. (Bow down, Dolly.)

The date looks like it’s in the Middle East, replete with sand dunes and camels. I am dying to know where this was shot. The show is filmed in LA. Is this in Nevada? Is this a set? I want to go there.

So, riding a camel has always been on my bucket list. But maybe I’m taking it off. It looks terribly uncomfortable for two people to ride. Maybe that’s a solo activity, despite the number of humps. Hmmm.

Mecca is adorable in this red jumpsuit. And you are watching a Master Flirt here. Chick is finishing Shawn’s sentences, leaning into the nook, and talking future plans of mutual moguldum… on date one. She has Shawn eating out of her hand. He says as much, “that girl seems like she would consume a man’s mind.”

Just to be extra ass-y, she takes an “Usie” of herself and Shawn on the camel. “So fear me”, she snarks to the ladies back at the house. Um. I love this chick.

After the camel ride, Mecca and Shawn get cuddly in the sand. They toast to their first date. “Team Mecca. Team Shawn, one day being Team Us.” She stole that last part from EJ Johnson, but I ain’t mad at her. Neither is Shawn. They make out underneath the stars, and in the tent. Shawn says he’ll dream about her... “and maybe more than that.” Was that a masturbation joke?

Back at the house, Ness, 24, is looking forward to a date with Shawn because she’s never been in a relationship with a man. Ever. She’s more interested in her curvy housemate, Alexandria, than Shawn. I know why producers picked for her the show, but I desperately want know why she auditioned.

Later, the girls are sitting around hating trying to figure out why Shawn picked Mecca for the first date. (Um. Did you see her ass in that had-to-be-American Apparel one-piece at the construction site? Duh!) Dolly is still talking about Mecca’s sides. I'm unclear.  Shawn doesn’t have a problem, why does she?

Elsewhere in the house, two of the blondes, Jamie and Victoria, have become inseparable and dubbed themselves “The Blonde-tourage.” They seem to have bonded mostly over getting real f—ed up together. Dani is also white and blond, but notes she ain’t a part of whatever they’re on.

In the pool, drunk Victoria tries to start a fight with Jade, a model from New Jersey, who looks sweet an innocent. But Jade was The Wrong One and is probably from  Newark, cause she went from 0 to 100 real quick and shut Victoria all the way down. I ain’t even mad at her.

The “following morning”, Pastor J stops by the house to announce it’s time for another date with Shawn. He picks the two “virgins” — Mercedes and Nes. The logic is there’s no chance at sex anytime soon, so everyone can focus on each other.

Hold up. I need to know how we’re defining virgin. Does becoming celibate make you a virgin? If you’ve had sex with “plenty of women", but you don’t “know” penis in the Biblical sense, are you a virgin? I’m confused. To Mercedes credit, she says "born-again". Nes volunteers herself as one.

Some of the other women feel judged that "the virgins" are picked to date Shawn before them. “It’s like they threw the Scarlet letter on us, and let us walk around with it,” says Dani.

Mercedes and Nes both show up for a yacht date with Shawn wearing all white. (Really, producers? LOL.) Shawn is in all linen, the universal uniform of 21st century Black men on boats.

Nes is nervous to confess that she’s a (sort of) virgin, as is Mercedes. Shawn seems pleasantly surprised, and gives them high-fives. Whew! That could have gone either way. But this is still weird. The two virgins are on a date with one man, and they’re all cuddled up like it’s a threesome.

Eventually, Shawn asks for one-on-one time with each woman, and he starts with Mercedes. Mercedes gives him her best sell: “If I’mma ride or die for Jesus, you know that I’m going to be ride or die for the one I’m meant to be with.” We’ve seen what Shawn looks like when he’s really into a woman. This is what it looks like when he isn’t. He calls Mercedes “awesome” and says he “respects her immensely”. That’s code for Friend Zone.

Nes has had plenty of practice flirting with the ladies, and it translates to men, it seems. A flustered Shawn asks her, “Are your eyes real?” Our usually debonair bachelor is fumbling here. Then he hits her with, “I know I’m the guy that’s worthy of your soul.” That’s straight out of the (dated) Billy Dee/ Harold Melvin handbook. After his time with Nes, Shawn declares, “it was like a Ralph Lauren ad… very sexy.” He’s smitten.

Pastor J texts Shawn and tells him to ask one of the women on a private date. It’s Nes. Surprise, surprise. (That was sarcasm).

The private date is at the gargantuan mansion, in the hot tub, in front of the Roman statues, next to the Olympic size pool. This place is laid the f— out. But what’s more impressive is Shawn taking off his shirt. Yowza!!!!

“This is nothing I’m used to.” Nes says. “I’m used to a womanly body, that’s what turns me on.” Later she admits he is the first man she’s been physically attracted to ever. She was once emotionally attracted to a man in high school. Oh.

What’s certain is Shawn is attracted to her. She’s got a lil' body on her and Shawn is tongue tied again. “You got swag, man. You do,” he slurs. Then, because she’s a flight attendant, he tells her is always wanted to join the Mile-High club. Really, dude? When they kiss, Shawn practically inhales her.  “She has rocketed up to the top of the charts for me,” he says.

Shawn devours Nes in the jacuzzi.

Back at the house, we learn Nes doesn’t feel the same way. Shawn was cool and all, but in her confessional, Nes is all about Alexandria. They go out to the jacuzzi to cuddle and Nes tells her about her date with Shawn. I’m unclear what part of the game this is.

Elimination is just around the corner, so Pastor J meets with Shawn to see who he’s feeling. Pastor J is wearing one of Steve Harvey’s suits, pre-Marjoire. The pastor seems like a nice guy, but the pimp connotations of the suits are distracting me. I digress.

At the elimination, Nes decides that she is becoming sexually attracted to Shawn. I thought that was covered in physically attracted, but maybe not. Like I find Amber Rose physically attractive, but I don’t want to do her. I just like looking at her. So maybe that’s the distinction.

Sorry, let me focus. It’s the second elimination and three women are going home. Pastor J gives immunity to “Dani”,  the blonde with all the tats who isn’t always drunk.

Shawn begins sending out his “yay” or “nay” texts. Mecca isn’t the first (or fifth) to receive a “yay” and starts to freak out. She had nothing to worry about, especially not after that "I’m not looking or a man, I’m looking for a champion” line. That was some epic ish. Some anorexic white chick makes fun of Mecca’s weight, suggesting she needs to do sit ups. Again, I ask, but Ma’am, but have you seen her ass tho’?

Brittany, a pretty girl, who has left no impression whatsoever is sent home. Mercedes is saying goodbye as well. She leaves the house wearing a freak’um, stripper heels and clutching a gigantic Bible. (She tweeted me later to say, "We were told to dress this way, not to say that I'm conservative; but I didn't know Christians were tied to the turtle-neck and the long ankle-length skirts uniform. You wanted me to have on my church stockings too huh, with the little #run in em? I'm sorry I thought this was 2015.")

Tanyka aka the chick who looks like Kelly Rowland, but not, and the Blonde-Courage gets called to the pool “to talk.” Everyone wants the drunk blondes to go. They get their wish.

Tanyka is going back to the house. Shawn says he just wanted to give her a head’s up that they haven’t spent anytime together. She deduces that he only called her to the pool to look at her ass, and by the way he stares as she walks off in her heels, I think she’s right.

Shawn is as baffled as to why producers brought on Jamie as the audience is. And I don’t know what antics of hers that were edited out, but our well-mannered bachelor releases the Philly on Jamie. “I do not want you,” he says. Damn, homie, you could have just texted her “We’re not a match”. He tries to explain to Victoria, “it’s not my fault that I don’t want [Jamie].” Now, I really want to know what scene(s) was cut.

Victoria says she doesn’t want to stay if Jamie goes. She gives Shawn a sneak-kiss goodbye, which he promptly wipes off with his handkerchief as the on-looking women cheer. Shawn admits he was fooled by Victoria until now.  “I was attracted to her and she’s crazy,” he says.


What did you think of Episode 2 of "Match Made in Heaven?"


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Watch Now: WE Tv's "Match Made in Heaven"

"America's First Black Bachelor", Shawn Bullard. I swore up and down I wasn’t taking on any new TV shows this season. Between “Empire”, “Being Mary Jane”, “Scandal” and the return of “Walking Dead” threatening to take over my winter, there was just no room to tap into pop culture and still be productive. But I’m making one more exception this season for WE Tv’s "Match Made in Heaven” (Wednesdays, 8PM, WE Tv), which features “America’s first Black bachelor” (no Flavor Flav and Ray J don’t count.)

I was intrigued after seeing the commercials for the show. I’m a former romance book editor (I started my career editing books for Arabesque and Harlequin) and I love all the romance, wining and dining, and the search to find “The One”. But, I was still skeptical, given the “black bachelor” TV- history of "Flavor of Love" and "For the Love of Ray J”. I wanted to see more connection — as much as you can have filming a show— and less coonery.

Last week, I reached out to “Match Made in Heaven’s” bachelor, Shawn Bullard, to get the scoop, and really, to figure out if the show was worth my time. By the end of the interview, I was sold enough to check out the first episode.

"Black men are not portrayed the best on reality TV,” Bullard admitted. "We’re always yelling and calling women the b-name. I wanted to show another side to us. I wanted to be the professional gentleman, an educated, articulate black man, one who would let the world know that we know how to treat our women, how to court them, how to make them smile, how to talk to them.”

“Match Made in Heaven” follows the standard premise of all the “looking for love” shows. One man, in this case a 34 year old very attractive (and chiseled) millionaire, looking for love amongst a gaggle of ladies who have varying degrees of act-right.

Bullard’s search for love is assisted by Pastor Ken Johnson aka Pastor J, who has been married for 32 years and acts as a “den father” to the women. (There are pimp-ish connotations here because of Pastor J’s choice of suits and overall demeanor, but he’s not skeevy, save for the occasional Nelly quote.) For Bullard, Pastor J functions as an advisor of sorts, one who will point out a woman than Bullard may be overlooking, arrange a date, or save a lady from elimination.

In the first episode, Pastor J warns “Match Made in Heaven" may "get loud and sometimes it’s going to get nasty and ugly.” In our interview, Bullard ranked  the show as just a 2 on the ratchet meter, just enough to keep the audience entertained, but nothing to disgrace The Community.

There’s just a bit of that in the first episode. The group of ladies are mostly in their early 20s, with a few in their early 30s for good measure. The standard outrageous “types” for this sort of show are present. Among the 24, there’s a weedhead, a born-again virgin, a woman who’s “not here to make friends” , a woman I’m pretty sure is an exotic dancer, another woman who I can’t decide is a lesbian or bisexual, and finally an overwhelming assortment of blond white girls (they provide most of the drama), which Bullard doesn’t seem all that interested in so far (confession: I’ve already seen the next couple episodes.) There are also several women— more than normal for a show like this— who appear entirely sane. This is a good thing.

The only thing missing from the debut is Bullard’s mama, Maggie Bullard, who appears in the commercials. I got two words: fired up. And I’m done. I got to more: turn up. And I’m done. Mama Bullard, what I expect “Cookie” from Empire will eventually become, doesn’t show up until Episode 3, and she is worth the wait.

Check out the first episode and tell me what you think.


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Sorority Sisters' April McRae Speaks About VH1's Controversial TV Show

"Sorority Sisters" dialogue hosted by (the homie) Tanika Ray


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 of "Sorority Sisters"

The Root: How did you become a part of the show?

April McRaeI 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.

TRDid 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

INTERVIEW: Media Bistro— "The writer turned reality TV star dishes on her impressive career"

Media Bistro Interview I used to look for jobs on in 2000 when I was  starting out. It's all kinds of awesome to be featured on the site as a success story. This interview is the unintentional blueprint for how I do what I do. (I swear it sounds more impressive when its written about than living it. Ha!) One correction: I'd never call myself a celebrity for being on reality TV. Having a camera follow your life is cool and all, but it's not a talent to be celebrated. 


Demetria Lucas spent the first half of her career as a journalist covering celebrities. Now she is one herself, and routine activities like going to the gym have become an adventure in the preservation of privacy. "Last week, this woman stopped in front of my car and mouthed 'Demetria Lucas?'" she said. "I nodded, and she just smiled and waved, then walked on across the street. I didn't think I'd be recognized, but apparently if you're invited into someone's living room every Sunday night, they know what you look like whether you've got on sweats or a dress."

She's adjusting to the reality of being a reality star, which includes run-ins with people feeling like they know you, even when you're off the clock. Before she was part of the six-woman cast of Bravo's Blood, Sweat and Heels, which chronicles the lives-in-progress of young, professional upstarts forging their careers in New York City, Lucas was far from unknown. Her blog, A Belle in Brooklyn, garnered a following of devotees and earned her critical accolades and a Black Weblog Award. Hers is the North Star of entrepreneurial journalism that many a writer wishes upon.

Adding certified life coach to her author-slash-editor-slash-columnist-slash-blogger-slash-TV personality repertoire, the once-quintessential single girl -- who's now a bride-to-be -- has formalized the wisdom she's dispensed to fans over the years in some 30,000 answered relationship questions. Here, the two-time author talks fortuitous opportunities, accidental marketing and being "the black Carrie Bradshaw."


Name: Demetria Lucas Position: Journalist, blogger, editor, author, columnist, life coach and reality show star Resume: Interned at Vibe, then transitioned to Russell Simmons' One World and Time Out New York. Edited romance novels for Harlequin and BET Books. Blogged about dating for Launched her personal blog, A Belle in Brooklyn, and was subsequently named one of "the Blogosphere's Best" by Black Enterprise and "30 Black Bloggers You Should Know" by The Root. Former relationships editor and dating columnist for Essence. Contributed freelance articles to The New York TimesThe GuardianPeople and XXL as well as The Grio, XoJane, Clutch, Vibe Vixen and Uptown. Contributing editor for The Root. Author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life and Don't Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love. Founded Coached By Belle, helping clients solve dating dilemmas and build healthy relationships. Most recently starred on Bravo's Blood, Sweat and Heels. Birthdate: July 9 Hometown: Mitchellville, Md. Education: BA in English from University of Maryland College Park; master's in journalism from New York University Marital status: Engaged Media mentors: Harriette Cole and Beverly Smith Best career advice received: "It's a marathon, not a sprint." Last book read: Forget a Mentor, Find a Sponsor: The New Way to Fast-Track Your Career by Sylvia Ann Hewlett Guilty pleasure: Reality TV Twitter handle: @abelleinbk

What was your original vision for your blog, A Belle in Brooklyn? Sex and the City was still on the air, and black women who watched it took issue like, 'This is New York City. There are amazing people of all colors here, including fabulous black women with great careers. Why isn't there one on the show?' I was looking for a site, a book, something that filled that gap. I complained to one of my writer friends about it and he said, 'Well, you're a writer. Why don't you write it?' That's how A Belle in Brooklyn was born. I started doing it on MySpace and it quickly became popular. Then I went to a networking event and pitched the idea of writing about dating and relationships as a single black woman in Brooklyn to the editor of She loved it. The first piece I did for her site got around 4,000 visitors and she called me like, 'Oh my God. We've struck gold.'

I wrote for Honey for three months or so before I got a call from a friend of a friend who worked at Essence. She said there was an opening for a relationship editor there and told me I had to apply for it. I'd only written for Essence once before that, so I was like, 'Really? An editor atEssence? Am I ready? I don't know.' She was like, 'Oh, no, the whole office reads your blog. We get in in the morning and are like, did you read Belle today?' The thought of a whole office of women reading my stuff was crazy. When I turned in a bunch of clips from my blog and that landed me the job, I realized I was probably on to something. Belle was a brand before I realized it was one. I was just writing. The readers are the ones who told me, 'You have to turn this into a book. It will sell.'

You mentioned Sex and the City. How do you like being labeled "the black Carrie Bradshaw?" I have mixed feelings about it. When I was working for Essence, I had a column called 'Dating Guide.' In one of the more popular stories, I went on three blind dates -- one arranged by my editor, one by my mother and one by my best friend. The one my mom set up was in D.C., so theWashington Post covered the story, and the headline was something like 'Demetria Lucas is the Black Carrie Bradshaw.' The name just kind of stuck. I can't get away from it now, even if I wanted to. But I'm a real woman. I'm a real black woman. I don't really like the equation to be a fill-in-the-lines white TV character. The thing that I do like, though, is that for all her flaws, Carrie was loved. People really liked her. She was that sort of urban girl next door with problems that people could relate to. So in that respect, I'm honored to claim that title.

Are there a plethora of tragic Carrie Bradshaws now in the forms of Being Mary Jane's Mary Jane Paul and Scandal's Olivia Pope? Even though Sex and the City is still hugely popular years after it went off the air, I think Olivia Pope is trying to be Olivia Pope and Mary Jane is trying to be Mary Jane. One of the reasons I started my blog was it seemed when single, white women were featured going through relationships, there was more lightheartedness. There was more comedy. There was more adventure. There was more optimism. Even if they got kicked down by somebody one day, they were back up and at it in the next episode. With black women, it just seemed depressing. It seemed hard and heavy and negative. That's the case for a lot of women, but there are also a lot of us who are just trying to figure it out.

When you prepared to write your first book, what kind of author did you want to become? I knew the combination of my blog and being the relationship editor at Essence raised my profile. I was also fortunate to land a spot on Let's Talk About Pep on VH1, which was another story about four black women dating in New York. I realized I had a really big platform and I should do something with it. That's when I pitched my book. Coming from a book editor's background, I knew that you could have a great story, but if you didn't have a platform to sell it on, nobody was going to know about it. Simon & Schuster took it. After the book came out, I was all over social media and started doing my 'Cocktails with Belle' events because I wanted to meet my readers. I wasn't really looking at it as a marketing strategy.

Do you think Blood Sweat and Heels stayed true to its original vision and the real, off-camera personalities of the cast members? No. The show was pitched to me as the professional lives of African-American women in New York City. Over time, it became professional and personal. My fiancé was not originally supposed to be on the show. That was a large discussion between us and producers and also my fiancé and myself. We didn't want to be a public couple. He's not in entertainment. He has no interest in being a part of this world. He has an interest in me.

As for the cast, I do kind of cringe at some of the things that were done and said. We all -- myself included -- could've done better in the representation. What's being shown on TV is not an authentic representation of how up-and-coming professional black women behave or how my friends and I behave. I would've liked to see a stronger emphasis on work. I know that the show's not done yet and there's stuff coming up. But I think we've got a lot of unnecessary drama.

Would you do it again? I don't know.

Being a journalist is one thing, being a reality star is another. How did your writing career prepare you for the TV spotlight? I tend to write about controversial subjects. You take a hard stance on something that people are split down the middle about and argue to the death for your side. I've always gotten a lot of feedback, positive and negative. My physical appearance has been attacked. My relationship status has been attacked. Being a writer gave me thicker skin and got me used to being in debate. Not angry, not arguing, but going back and forth respectfully. I absolutely love being challenged. All of that prepared me for reality TV. I don't think I could've gone from a completely behind-the-scenes life to a very public life and been OK afterwards. The responses to being on TV can be brutal if you're not prepared.


Read more: here 

Being on TV: It's Essentially "You Ain't Sh**, Rarely in LessThan 500 Words"


Since The Show began, I’ve done a running weekly commentary on Facebook about my experiences being… more recognized. It’s a series of status updates unofficially called, “Demetria’s on TV and Things Are Getting Interesting.” We’ve covered the many ups and many, many downs of this new terrain that few people talk about, because if they did, I actually would have fully known what I was getting into.

Anyway, something happened yesterday to a friend that made me think this update was worth talking about.

My friend, a popular journalist and author, was called a "coon" on social media Monday. She did a FB update about it and quipped that she'd made it big. I joked something like, "Wait till you get the C-B-C combo. You're practically A-List."

Later, after I read several other comments on her thread expressing anger and outrage that she was insulted this way, I realized how f***ed up I’ve become about social media responses.

C-B-C= cunt, bitch, coon. It is not normal to be called these names (or certain others that are quite derogatory). And yet, I can't count a day since Jan. 5 when The Show debuted where I have not been called at least one of them (and a whole lot more). And each Sunday to Tuesday-- 72 hours-- after The Show aired, I (and my castmates) am bombarded with an endless tirade of all three throughout the day on Twitter, IG, my blog comments, email and occasionally FB mail.


I was warned by other female reality TV personalities and celebs that this would happen, even by the so-called "likable" ones. Everyone made the same analogies “They talked about Jesus” or reminded me that Michelle Obama has an extremely high approval rating, and she gets it too. It's part of what comes with being a woman in the pubic eye. But even the warnings don't prepare you for the waves of hate. It's like the sea rising up to wipe out NYC in one of those end of the world movies and you are the Statue of Liberty getting wiped out over and over and over… and over. It’s singlehandedly the worst part of being on TV. (Or being a blogger. It always happened, it's just a higher volume/ frequency now.)

I'm learning to deal with the volume, apparently. (It used to alternately cause insomnia and nightmares). Hence, why I am was completely desensitized to hear of someone else called a "coon", which if it's your first time, is incredibly upsetting. I was in tears the first time I was called a "hood rat" in the comments section of a friend's blog after the BSH trailer aired. (Funny, I've since transformed into a snobby/elitist/entitled, cunt/bitch/coon, but whatever).

I tell you all that to make this point. I've gotten with rare exception, used to all of this. Occasionally, I save the really good hate mail (like the one above) to whip out for cocktail and appetizer fodder with friends, like, “OMG! You will never believe this one!” I think of it as the equivalent of an ER doctor horrifying her friends with stories of what wild thing happened on the overnight shift. Everyone listening—unless they are also on TV—  is shocked, and weirdly intrigued at the depths and density of the amount of unadulterated crazy in the world.

TV (or blogger) people laugh and we play a game of one-upping each other. Someone not on TV (or blogging) always comments, “what kind of person watches a TV show, then goes online to tell the person that they hate them Like who does that?” Then someone else not on TV (or blogging) comments, “people have too much time.” And then, someone—maybe someone on TV (or who blogs) who is fed up that day or a person who just can’t believe this mess— screeches incredulously, “what is wrong with people?!”  and has to be calmed down. Some sensible soul reminds me to focus on the positive and keep my head up, which actually is now easy and actually done. Go figure.

But mostly, I (or someone) just block the person or delete the message from my mentions/responses/comments and move on with life. (And I’m sure that has something to do with why it doesn’t bother me as much.)

What fascinates me is the people who get pissed about this. Like you ranted in my comments telling me I was, [insert negative adjective] [choose either “bitch” or “cunt”] and you're surprised I didn't let that sit on my site/platform/social media? Like when it happens to you—and it must if you think it’s acceptable to talk to people that way—you don’t delete it? Really?

Some folks get so upset that they'll create a new IG, or post from a friend's account. And be totally upfront about it. Like, "you blocked me, [insert adjective] [now choose either “cunt” or “bitch”], but I'm back!!!! hahahahaha" Or they'll go from posting on one of my Instagram accounts to the other using the same screen name. Or from Twitter to Instagram repeating the same message. Or from Twitter to my blog to leave a nasty comment or write a longwinded email essentially telling me "you ain't shit, [insert “cunt” or “bitch”] in 500 words or more (never less). And they will add a line like, “now block this [choose either “bitch” or “cunt”]”.

It's like a weird sense of entitlement to not just be mean, but to allow the mean to stand for all eternity.  Like how dare you not allow me to be cruel to you and for everyone to see the depths of my hatred?  How dare you actually do something about it!!!! How dare you not respond to or acknowledge me!!!!! How dare you erase my evil thoughts!!!!! I imagine this, on a loop, is about what goes through The Brain's, well brain, or maybe The Joker’s.

Whatever it is, it’s a new part of life that I’m stuck with until I fade to black. There’s a lot of bad that comes with the good.


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


WaPo: Reality star Demetria Lucas makes time for her D.C. fans

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 1.25.52 AM  

“I’m a little tipsy so I’ll be very honest,” joked Demetria Lucas on Sunday night at a screening of her new reality show, Bravo’s “Blood, Sweat & Heels.” Eager fans wanted to know just how real the show actually is. Hint: Come on.

It’s been nearly a decade since Carrie and Big got their happy ending on “Sex and the City,” but that hasn’t stopped Maryland native Lucas from picking up the single-girl-makes-it-big baton — and running with it. Her relationship blog, A Belle in Brooklyn, crashed when the show premiered to 2.5 million viewers earlier this month and a revamped edition of her 2011 advice book, “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life,” is back on its way to book stores.

On Sunday night Lucas was joined by more than 150 of her closest fans at Lima lounge on K Street to cheer and jeer as the former Essence magazine editor navigated the quicksand of reality TV without getting sucked into the drama–or at least not completely. “I swear to god, I threw no punches, no drinks,” said Lucas, who is also a life coach. “I’m very much a lady on the show.” The same, of course, can’t always be said of her cast mates. Friendships are fast and loose and wine is on infinite tap in the series that follows six upwardly mobile women in New York City.

Moments before the wall of televisions switched from the Grammy telecast to the fourth installment of “Blood, Sweat & Heels,” Lucas, looking posh in a purple bandage dress by Asos, quietly retreated to a bar stool near the DJ booth. “I can’t watch myself on TV,” she admitted.

The crowd, largely made of up of young professional women with a penchant for skinny jeans and stilettos, came with Lucas’ book safely tucked under their arms like chic clutches. The receiving line of wide-eyed 20-somethings seemed never-ending. Perhaps a metaphor for Lucas’ career?


Originally published: here 

Black Enterprise Q&A: Demetria Lucas Talks Branding & Boss Moves

Screen Shot 2014-01-26 at 2.31.42 AMBravo’s newest reality show “Blood, Sweat and Heels” had an explosive 2.5 million viewer debut, and seems to be the fans newest reality “fix.” The show follows six up-and-coming black women as they struggle to succeed in the concrete jungle of New York City. Demetria, already becoming a fan favorite, is much more than your typical reality television star — she is about her business. Not only has she taken her blog A Belle in Brooklyn to national heights after writing a controversial blog which was the continued topic of conversation on the show, her brand(s) can also be seen integrated throughout the show on each episode. Already apparent from the first few episodes, Demetria has set her sights on building her multi-platform brand, and advancing her career to her next level. Somewhat of an industry veteran, the former Essence relationship editor is also a criticically acclaimed author, life coach and award-winning blogger. caught up with Lucas as she discusses the challenges of exposing her life on reality television, her latest project “Don’t Waste Your Pretty,” and expanding her brand.

Black Enterprise: As somewhat of an industry veteran, what made you decide to do the show?

Demetria Lucas: I’ve been approached about doing some form of reality show before Bravo. What led me to it was the focus on professional women working in the city and on professional life. Over the years I have blogged and shared tons of life story as well as about my business. My book [A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Lifeis very all in. I thought this was an opportunity to share life in video and for people to see it and not picture in their minds. It was also a chance to show my professional career.

Do you think being on a reality show, especially because of some of the negative criticism that reality shows now receive, will tarnish your brand in any way?

Doing a reality show is always big risk, and I realized this especially on the day after the super trailer was released. I was and have always been very candid about my perception of reality TV. I didn’t see women like me in media. I’ve talked about images of women on reality TV for years. When I was approached, producers knew my critique of reality television, and I thought it was opportunity to show a different side. However, I can’t speak for other castmates and can’t speak for what everyone does on the season.

After months of filming, was the show what you thought she you getting herself into?

No. You don’t’ know what it is until you’re actually in it—the idea of cameras being trained on you all the time. What you’re doing is being aired to millions of people with millions of different opinions. I was very cautious. I found myself thinking a lot and having delayed reactions because you want to be yourself but also be conscious of how you’re acting on television.

How shocking was it for you to hear that other black women of color don’t believe that women should serve in leadership roles?

I would have never thought in a million years a woman would say that. If you’re in a certain environment with women who struggle to get things out [of]  life, then you would think 'I understand where this is coming from. ' Then I would say, “OK, I get that.” To my knowledge everyone on the show has a business or a brand. I was shocked that an actual woman would say that they don’t believe a woman would lead. At first I was like are they doing this for the cameras. I was really sitting there in shock like OMG.

Do you believe the stereotype that black women don’t support each other to get ahead in their careers?

People constantly talk about black women are not supportive of each other. I’ve been to the panels and discussions. I hear it, but that’s never been my experience. My first job was at BET and they were the ones that pushed me to say you can do something with your writing. Most people know me from ESSENCE and was an office filled with black women. When Angela Burt Murray was Editor-In-Chief, she was the one that said, “I read your blog I think it’s so good, I think you should have a column.” She really pushed me and believed in me. I feel that about the rest of the office. I’ve never had that experience. I don’t know if I’m very rare or I just don’t promote that stereoptype.

You’re notoriously private about her relationship with “CBW” as you call him. Why did you decide to include him on this very public TV show?

That’s more his thing then it is mine. He’s a behind the scenes type of guy. We talked about showing my life and he’s a huge part of my life. We thought it would be odd to not show him. I’ve [written a blog] for 6 years, I had a column [about my life] in a magazine. I give bits and pieces [of my story], I give enough. If you’re expecting big blows up and fights [between us] that’s not how we get down in the real world.

What’s next for you and your brand?

The next book – “Don’t Waste Your Pretty"-- is a hard core advice book based on the Formspring I’ve done over as the past 3 years. I’ll be delving more into [advice]. The book is the nitty gritty version of the advice I give online, not as much narrative as my previous book “A Belle In Brooklyn.” I’ll also launching 15 city speaking tour from March to December in US and South Africa called “Conversations With Belle.”

Originally published here

From the Inside Looking Out (aka The Belated Birthday Post) Part 2

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 2.30.16 AMIt took forever for both of the contracts from the two different networks to come. They arrived the same day, which was oddly enough, the same day I published last year’s birthday post. Without even asking, the network for the scripted show sent an additional contract offering a “consulting producer” position. More or less, it guaranteed that I would have some input in the show. I know the nuances of my world as described in the book; they didn’t. I would fill in the knowledge gaps. That made me happy. My book, A Belle in Brooklyn, is my baby, the physical embodiment of a dream I wished for when I was 12. It took 20 years to make it come true. The additional title  meant I would be there to guide my book through her next steps.

It sounded too good to be true because it was. The main contract was standard, which is to say that it heavily favored the network. They wanted to own everything related to A Belle in Brooklyn, including my URL, the logo, the name “A Belle in Brooklyn”, and anything else “Belle”-affiliated, including any merchandise. Oh, and if the show ever made it on air, I couldn’t write a sequel to the book for approximately ten years and even then it couldn’t use any “characters” that I wrote about in the original book again. In laywoman’s terms, it meant that I wouldn’t be able to write about my life anymore.

I wanted a scripted show so bad that I actually  (and reluctantly) considered this.

I found a lawyer who used to run the legal department at another major network who told me a show would cost me, but I didn’t have to give up that much. It would also cost me financially. The lawyer knew the ins and outs of the business and even with a hook up, she was expensive. If I was lucky, the option rights for the book would cover what I would pay her when she was done re-working and negotiating with the network to get a contract that wasn’t asking for my soul.

In the end, I spent what the option clause the contract would have paid and then some—and never got anything in return. I sat through hours of phone calls at the most inconvenient of times. I was doing a speaking engagement in Colorado and instead of prepping, I was in my dressing room on the phone with my lawyer for an hour going over the latest contracts right until I walked on stage. I would go on vacation and stay  cooped up in my hotel room going over contracts. CBW would come by to visit, and I'd be sitting on the phone with my lawyers. I was on deadline for writing assignments, talking to my lawyer instead of cranking out essays, and watching the minutes move on the clock thinking about how much it was costing me and how pissed my editor would be if I missed my deadline… again.

There was also another lawyer to handle the contracts for the other network. That contract required the same level of negotiation. I would get off the phone with one lawyer and get on the phone with the other. Occasionally, I’d sit on the phone with both of them as they ironed out details and rights to make sure the contracts didn’t conflict with each other. I totaled the price of one of those hour- long calls once. I could have bought a pair of Louboutins.

Two TV deals on the table should have been heaven when I’d just been complaining about none. But I was in hell.

The time commitment to negotiating the contracts and the learning curve was killing me. The stress made me unbearable to be around or carry on anything but the most basic of conversations. I spent most of my time talking to producers and managers and lawyers and they were all throwing about terms that I’d never heard and percentages that I had no clue whether they were good or bad. My manager would bring up concerns in the contracts that I didn’t even know I was supposed to be concerned about. I’d asked to be kept in the loop of all the negotiations so I could learn the ropes, and I’d jump in and ask the most mundane of questions. Everyone always filled me in, happy to help. But at 33, I perpetually felt like a kid listening to the adults talk and no matter how hard I tried, I just wasn’t getting it.

A little bit of that feeling goes a long way. When you spend so much time feeling like most inadequate person in the room, it starts to affect the other rooms you go in. I couldn’t write the same. I started looking up words that I knew the meaning to because I wasn’t sure I was using them in the right context. It would take all-day to write competent articles when it used to take a couple hours tops to make something borderline profound. I’d be scared to push the Send button to my editors with fear someone would write back “um, what is this?” And then that actually happened which messed me up even worse.

I was going crazy. I debated with actual seriousness saying “f*** it” to both contracts and writing all together.  I told this all to Tariq who confirmed I wasn’t crazy, just scared and overwhelmed.

He pointed out that I was doing it right. I’d hired the best to advocate for me. I’d assembled an amazing team of women (as a testament, whenever anyone in the business asks who my lawyer, manager or producers are, I’m met with an impressed look after I answer) and I should just let them do their jobs.

“It will all work out,” he promised. I wanted to believe him. I wanted to believe in myself. But I’d negotiated away so much of what mattered to me and I’d been in over my head so long and I’d felt so damned dumb, I wasn’t sure who I was anymore.


The negotiations for the scripted show took longer than the time to finalize the reality show, tape it, and it was damn near about to be announced when I finally got a final word on what I’d started to think of as “my show”, which didn’t even exist.

I’d realized months before that something wasn’t right with the scripted deal. I’d pushed the feeling down, blaming my outsider-ness and lack of understanding about the way Hollywood operates. It’s a “hurry up and wait” schedule, I was told. “It’s fine. Everything’s fine.” Until it wasn’t.

I should have listened to myself.

I got the news soon after I’d hopped on a plane to LA to get away from New York hang out with my friends, put in face-time with my team and most importantly, to check on my “baby” cousin, a 20 year old from NOLA who wanted to be an actress. She’d bought a one-way ticket headed West a month prior to chase her dream, a move I didn’t fully approve of.

I took her to dinner in Century City the first night, the same way my relatives and friends of my parents did for me when I moved to New York. I remembered what it meant to have a concerned adult present with a listening ear, and a meal at a decent restaurant, something that had become a luxury. And I'd planned to tell her  she should go back home, get her business in order, and return when it was.

In so many words, she told me she was broke, and at the bottom of the totem pole, but she was where she wanted to be, in LA, and just taking that first step toward her dream despite all the (massive) problems-- like not having a car in LA--  that came with it. She was happy.

I remembered being that girl. In my version I sat on my parents back porch with a Master’s degree and no job, praying “God, just give me a chance to compete. I can make it if I get a chance.” My parents didn't want me to go. I got an offer paying next-to-nothing for a government job in NYC, moved and took a second job where I worked 13 days straight, two days off for a year. My parents thought I was crazy. I was living my dream.

I realized as she talked that I would have been a hypocrite to give her the “you should go home” speech, and I figured she was hearing it from everyone else anyway, the same way I did. It meant a lot then-- and now-- for someone to say,"I'm in your corner" when I felt like no one was.  So I told her I was and gave her a “you gotta want this like your life depends on it” soliloquy. It ended with, “balls to the wall, baby. But not, like, balls, because you don’t have balls, cause you’re a girl. Maybe boobs... Boobs to the wall! That sounds painful. But you know what I mean, right?”

I added, "oh, and that means taking the bus."

She nodded at me across the table and said, “I want this… more than anything, B.”

I smiled at her the way the grown ups used to smile at me at dinner. I always thought it was pity for me being broke and naïve in a big city and dinner was an act of charity. It was actually them remembering their own journey as I spoke, remembering it fondly and recognizing how far they’d come from their own beginnings. I think they were also enjoying the hope that still flourishes in people who haven’t been in over their heads long enough to fear drowning. I certainly was and I was getting more out of that dinner than she was.

For the first time in months, I actually didn’t feel crazy. I actually felt... happy.

The following week, baby cousin sent me a selfie from the bus. She was headed to an audition, and yes, she got the job.


Part 3: Soon come.

The Grio: ‘Sky is the limit’ for Bravo’s new reality TV show

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(To watch: click HERE)

Bravo’s new reality TV show Blood, Sweat and Heels premiered Sunday night and broke ratings records.

The show chronicles six women who work in the areas of fashion, media and real estate while documenting their adventures around New York City as they balance their personal and professional lives. It kicked off Sunday night, drawing 2.5 million viewers and set records high as the highest reality series debut in network history.

The show’s Demetria Lucas and Geneva S. Thomas sat down with theGrio’s Lilly Workneh days after the series premiere and shared their sentiments on the show’s success.

“We’re all very dynamic women. We knew it was good but we didn’t know it was 2.5 million viewers good,” Lucas said. “The sky is the limit for Blood, Sweat and Heels and where it can go,” she added.

Both women are media professionals who have worked in the industry for years. Lucas is a published author of the top-selling book A Belle in Brooklyn and the creator of a highly read blog under the same name.

Meanwhile, Thomas began her career writing for various publications before launching her own digital-media agency. She has studied fashion overseas and worked for some of the biggest beauty and lifestyle brands.

Now, these two ladies join four other women in creating a cast that has come together to air and discuss issues with men, money and friendships.

“I feel like people were looking for something different, a fresh take,” Thomas said.

They are individuals in their own regard and share different opinions on a number of issues. The first episode showed a rift between some cast members when Lucas referenced a discussion the ladies had in a post on her personal blog. A preview for the second episode shows the women engaging in a heated discussion over the content in Lucas’ blog post.

“There was no malicious intent, I didn’t use names, I didn’t attack anyone and I was really talking about issues more so than what the women said,” Lucas clarified.

As for any choice words she has for any critics, she says: “Thank you for watching. Tune in next week.”

Catch the episodes of Blood, Sweat and Heels Sundays at 9 p.m. on Bravo.


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