WHAT’S GOSSIP?: ABOUT EPISODE THREE…
Ms. Drama is an asshole. It really is that simple.
Only an asshole would listen to four different people tell them virtually the same thing, and take away that it’s every one else.
I wish Candice nothing but the best. But Ms Drama? Nah. Life’s too short. Let’s move on to next week.
WHAT’S GOSSIP: I’M TIRED OF BLACK WOMEN FIGHTING ON TV…
I’m tired of watching Black women fight on TV.
We’re two episodes into The Gossip Game and last night we witnessed our second fight. Sigh.
When I accepted Mona Scott-Young’s invitation to sit down for a casting meeting, I was more than skeptical. This was three weeks into Love & Hip Hop ATL and all that kept running through my mind was ‘she’s not gonna do me like she does these other women.’ And as soon as I sat down – in front of Vh1 execs, show creator Tone Boots and his team and the network casting department – I told her as much.
Mona heard me out and then informed me that she never set out to abuse Black women. And that she didn’t prompt Stevie J to keep both a mistress and a wife. All she does is give a look inside their lives.
I gave her a chance.
Within the first two weeks of filming the first ‘argument’ happened. I wasn’t there (we had an event for Ne-Yo that night). I didn’t know Viv – at that point I’d only met her once at a cast lunch. But I’d known Ms. Drama for a few years and although we’d never spent an extended period of time alone, I’d never known her to get into it with anyone. I was surprised. And immediately I blamed Mona. Here we go. So now we’re going to be out here looking crazy.
I listened to Drama’s side of the story and became a little apprehensive of Viv. And completely distrustful of Mona (we’ll talk later about how this played out).
Full disclosure: I’ve been in New York for 4 years and I’ve been blessed to make some great friends but I’ve also picked up a handful of…detractors. That’s normal. We’re adults playing in a high-stakes/high-stress industry. But what I realized is 70% of these detractors were women of color. And 50% of those began as friends and or associates.
We all know the drill: you’re cool with another woman at first and then something happens, or nothing happens and one person feels a way and somehow (often over something minute) there’s now a ‘thing’ between you. But instead of addressing it and moving on, (usually) one woman has to try to turn everybody else against you – because she’s not secure enough to be alone with her feelings. And before you know it an entire clique has formed – bonded over the dislike of one woman.
So I was dealing with this, while watching the saga between Ms. Drama verses Viv unfold. At the time I didn’t see the connection but it was coming.
The second fight happened at Bottles & Strikes. By then I had heard everyone’s accounts of the first incident and realized there was so much Ms. Drama left out. But I let it rock. I was getting to know Viv and was happy to see her at the party. The fight between them happened in another room but afterwards I was able to speak to Viv (who was very emotional) and she – along with several witnesses – all maintained that Ms. Drama was the agitator.
As they escorted the camera crew out, Mike Kyser – someone I’ve respected professionally for years – came over and said ‘what kind of show are you making?’ It was embarrassing. I’m trying to do something I could be proud of, and this wasn’t it.
I asked to talk Drama. Scratch that, I asked to talk to Candace. As someone who appreciated her as a woman and a collegue, I needed to let her know that she was playing a role in the what was happening. That was important because unless she owned her part, it wouldn’t stop. I expected a very different conversation than the one I got. That was the first time I ever walked out of a scene. I was upset, frustrated, annoyed and a little hurt that she didn’t understand what I was trying to say. Let’s keep it funky: We’re about to be on national television and here she was acting a fool.
Ms. Drama saw that as an attack. You’ll see in the coming weeks how that played out.
It wasn’t until days later that I saw the similarities.
Sometimes, we as Black women don’t treat one another very well. Societal factors have made us defensive and (often times) insecure about who we are and afraid of who we are not. We’ve been told that we’re all in competition over men, jobs, friends, adoration, etc. And because we are such an insular culture – Black woman are known for watching/dating/buying/talking/living in our Blackness – we turn a great deal of frustration back on one another. We’re so hyper-sensitive to criticism (because we’re SO over criticized) that in the moment we often can’t discern between someone attacking us and someone trying to help us. It’s hard to see kinship in someone you’re determined to make your enemy. So (often times) we fight.
I couldn’t get mad at Mona for the fights that happened between Drama and Viv. Not when I was dealing with the very same things (via toxic email threads, vicious sub-tweets, subversive moves against me etc) in my own life. Mona didn’t make those two women fight. In that moment, instead of risking being hurt or hearing something they didn’t want to, they chose to antagonize one another. This choice is made every single day. And I couldn’t expect Mona to create a television show about us and ask her not to show all of it, including the parts we’re not proud of.
So we can continue to complain about how we’re portrayed on television. Or we can candidly address how we treat each other in real life.
See you next week for episode three.
WHAT’S GOSSIP?: AM I REALLY DOING REALITY TV?
In the middle of the night, late in December of 2011, I called my good friend LowKey to tell him one thing: In 2012 I’m getting a television show. I’d made this same call to my father and my best friend Angel. All three – knowing me well – simply said, ‘ok,’ hung up and went back to sleep. I went to work.
In the fall of 2011, along with different configurations of my JumpOff TV cast mates, I shot several test pilots with BET. I’d met with FUSE and taken meetings with another network. And although none of those opportunities panned out, each one taught me a little more about myself, being on camera, the talent process and (most importantly) what I wanted for this next phase in my career. I knew it was my time.
By the time I got the call from Mona Scott-Young to meet with her I was ready to tell my story. Only I had no idea just what that would mean for me. Two months would pass between that meeting – which included Co-Creator Tone Boots, his District Media team and several Vh1 Execs – and our first official day of shooting.
I’d just come back from Made In America where I was doing a backstage diary for VIBE Vixen. Those two days in Philly had given me an unforgettable vantage point about the difference between those that dream and those that make their dreams come true: Vision.
Now here’s a quick back-story on the Power Vs. Hot story. It all came about at Nas’ official album release concert for Life Is Good. I was in VIP at Tammany Hall when I spotted Ebro, Hot 97’s Program Director. Ebro and I had seen each other around, but there was no real familiarity. So I did what I’d do in any similar situation, I introduced myself and asked him wtf was all this beef about. What followed was a great 45 minute conversation – in the middle of the party – where he candidly spoke about his thoughts on the rivalry, the industry and where he saw things going for certain artists. At the end of it, I asked him if I could write about it. He told me sure. The next morning I emailed Datwon Thomas & Mikey Yi over at VIBE and pitched them the story. This was before there was a show. This was before I knew Mona. There was nothing for cameras. I was doing my job as a writer trying to tell a story.
Don’t get it twisted this is a business. I’d known Datwon for a while. I’ve worked hard at cultivating a relationship based on respect and honesty. He keeps it real and tells me if it’s great and if it’s not. So there was a good deal of read tape to cut through in getting this story done. And in the meantime I began working on my deal for what would become The Gossip Game. It just so happened that – unbeknownst to us – Angela Yee and K. Foxx were also being vetted for the show.
I believe that if you are clear about what you want and are willing to work with The Universe to collaborate on your life and the lessons you’re willing to let it teach you, you will be rewarded.
And I was.
Over the next 8 weeks, anyone who is willing to watch will be given glimpses into my life and the lives of my cast mates. But these glimpses – while all based in reality – are being told by a collection of television professionals. So in the spirit of keeping it 100 (my truest self) here is where I will share with you a little more in depth look at what you’re watching.
The day I had lunch with K. Foxx and Angela Yee was my very first scene with either one of them. Inside I was nervous. I couldn’t get out of my head. I kept thinking of all the things the editors could do with this scene. I didn’t trust Mona yet (I’ll tell you about that later). Finally, as I looked across at K, something clicked. There was something in how she just sat there, taking it all in, that made me realize we were all nervous. We’re used to telling the story. And now we’d become the story.
Knowing it wasn’t just me made me relax. This was another day at work. So, I did what I do well: I interviewed my subjects.
#DREAMmix VOLUME ONE
Everything great begins with a desire for something more…
The #DREAMmix Vol. One is a mixtape like no other. This compilation tape is comprised of some of the best and brightest from the world of entertainment, hand picked not just for their accomplishments, but also for their journeys. Executive Producer JasFly enlisted the help from Artists/Producers COMMON, Kendrick Lamar, Ne-Yo, Swizz Beatz, Adrienne Bailon, DJ Khaled, Joe Budden and Pusha T as well as Writers/Blogger & Executives Elliott Wilson, Mona Scott-Young, Kim Osorio, Ariel Cherie and LowKey.
Each guest thought long and hard about the song that best inspires them, at different points in their life…and you’d be surprised by their choices. From Walter Hawkins to DMX, The #DREAMmix variation will surprise you, but you just might also relate.
Media powered by VIBE.com, The #DREAMmix Vol. One is the first of its kind, designed to use the power of music and sincere words to inspire its listeners.
DEAR 20’s: Twenty-Two To LA
You’re scared. Actually more like terrified. It’s the last week of February, icy grey snow blankets the ground and it’s time to either shit or get off the pot. All of your belongings (or what you haven’t sold or given away) are finally out of the apartment you can no longer afford and you’ve taken up temporary residence in Ma’s living room. You say you’re leaving.
It was just the previous October that you sat outside the Clark Avenue Starbucks and listened as your boyfriend declared your misery had become palpable. Jas, you’re stuck. Chicago isn’t for you. You want more than your blue-collar hometown can offer and quietly, you’ve been thinking about LA. The feast or famine life of production is wearing. Besides you know deep down if you really want to give Film & Television Producing a shot, Los Angeles is where you need to be. But on that unusually warm morning last fall this all seemed like a daydream – something you talk about but never actually planned to do.
Then autumn turned to winter and the bottom fell out. All of the production jobs dried up, seems you couldn’t buy a temp gig and you got your first real taste of just how hard adulthood can get. Funny how that happened, right? You don’t realize it now Jas, but that was The Universe stripping away all of your excuses. And it’s led you here, to the living room.
Dad has just left – angrily – as you sit surrounded by your entire life reduced to three bags, in tears. Everyone supports your move except him. And his support is what you think you need the most. Your father wants you to stay, find a ‘real job’, ‘grow up’ and handle your business like everyone else. He says you’re being unrealistic, stupid even and stormed out after calling you ‘trash.’
I know. We’re Daddy’s girl. Who is this man? And why all the sudden does he hate us? It’s devastating when someone you’ve relied on your entire life is suddenly no longer on your side. It makes you doubt…well, everything. Like you’re doing right now. Maybe this is a dumb idea. You barely know the cousins in Compton you’ve arranged to stay with, you only have a few thin leads for work and including the insurance bond Ma helped you cash out, you’re moving across the country with less than $1000 to your name. He doesn’t get it. But do you? Your gut says this will work. And that Jas is the point. And then the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk to blossom*.
Almost a decade later, I sit here thinking about you on that morning in February and what I want to tell you is this: You’re doing the right thing. You can’t see it now but one day you’ll look back on this moment and realize by disapproving, Daddy has unknowingly given you the greatest gift he possibly could. The most important decisions in our lives are ours to make alone. This is your life, your approval matters more than anyone else. What you’re feeling – that overwhelming need for change – is real. It matters none that you’re the only one that can see it, because that really is enough.
The unshakable feeling in your gut is the voice that comes from the purest place and it trumps everyone: your friends, your partner, even your father. Learn to look for it, learn to expect it and understand that when that voice says move, you move. When it says stay, you hold. Trust it because when no one around you sees the vision, that voice is all the assurance you’ll need.
Trust me, Dad doesn’t hate you. He’s scared. His baby is moving 2000 miles away and there is nothing he can do about it. He knows he can’t stop you and believe it or not, this makes him just as proud as it does fearful. But sometimes the people that love us hurt us when they can’t think of anything else to do. Remember that love and forgiveness are one and the same. It’ll be ok. By summer he’ll be out to visit and you’ll get to know him not as your father, but as Joe. Though that’s a story for another time.
I wish I could tell you LA is going to be easy. It won’t be. I wish I could tell you, you’ll soon find your groove but honestly, that will be many years to come. Oh and that boyfriend who supported your move, even rode with you to the train and shed real tears as he watched you pull away? We’ll talk another time about how that all played out. But often what we think is the end of the world is really the start of a better one. Take my word for it, everything works out in the end.
On that cold morning in February 2003 you don’t know any of this yet, but you will.
Now get back to packing. You’ve got a train to catch.
#JasNJovisBookClub: THE ALCHEMIST PT. 2
In part two we wrap up the conversation. I encourage everyone to read the book. And by all means, share your story with us. You can reach us on twitter: @JasFly @Jovizi
#JasNJovisBookClub: THE ALCHEMIST PT. 1
For anyone who’s ever asked to know MY story, this video is for you.
Last night @Jovizi and I finally united to discuss one of my favorite books, The Alchemist. What was supposed to be a simple one hour ustream about the book, became…Well honestly it became so much more.
#REALITYCHECK: E02 NIGHTS W/D’ANGELO, PANTILESS NIGHTS & AWKWARD DATING TIPS FROM @JUSTBLAZE…
#RealityCheck returns for episode 2! This week I talk about my evening with D’Angelo and get some awkward dating advice from Just Blaze. Meanwhile NY Delight keeps things out of control as she shares how she determines when to wear panties.
Never a dull moment.
Exec. Prod: @Combat_Jack
YA’LL GOT ‘COOL’ ALL WRONG
My friend has a theory: you are as an adult, who you were as a child. The only thing that ever changes is how you learn to handle the world around you.
A couple of weeks ago someone came to me asking for my thoughts on a rather vulnerable subject: they wanted to know why ‘the cool kids’ weren’t accepting them. I was a little taken aback. I’m not the best person to ask, I wouldn’t know. I’m not a ‘cool kid’.
Before I go any further, the reality is, even as adults, many of us still struggle with not feeling ‘___________ enough’. If we didn’t, there’d be no beauty, self-help or even ice cream industry (ok, maybe the ice cream part is just me). My point is, before you judge, at least this person had the balls to say it, out loud.
We talked for some time and after asking a few questions, I realized the real problem wasn’t this persons’ social acceptance, but rather a misconception of what ‘cool’ actually is. And this person is not alone.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: the cool kids aren’t really all that cool.
You need to get out more, champ…
At the end of The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda Priestly turns to her assistant and declares, “Oh don’t be ridiculous Andrea, everybody wants this…everybody wants to be us.”
Keep your distance from anyone who thinks this way. They’re the ‘Al Bundy’s’ of the world.
Kim is one of my closest friends. We’ve known each other since 9th grade and while I’m here in New York, Kim is in Texas getting her doctorate in Art History. We speak on average once a week and what I love about Kim is she talks to me with just as much fever about African art and her life in Texas as I talk to her about rappers and entertainment. She has no idea who or what a Waka Flocka is, she could care less. And I love her for it. She does not want my life.
Don’t confuse cool with insecure.
Many talk day in and day out about ‘protecting their circle’, not realizing that the very fence you build to keep ‘the others’ out, can quickly become the cage that holds you in. Cool is being open, remaining somewhat connected to a variety of people, and new experiences. Even the ones you may not initially understand. If you believe that there’s only one ‘cool’, then you haven’t seen enough of the world to know differently, and therefore are unqualified to determine what’s cool in the first place.
You know how I know your crew is lame?
Everything you see on social media isn’t real. Browser thugging. Tweet stunting. Instagram modeling, will only ever tell a fraction of the story.
Some of your favorite ‘Online Celebs’ were the kids who always felt they had something to prove.
I have a great amount of respect for Toure. I’ve read his writing for years, every time I see him, he’s incredibly warm, kind and he’s not afraid to speak his mind, even if that goes against the popular opinion. But in 2012, cyber-dissing Toure seems to be a favorite twitter pastime.
Now, I too am no saint. While I’ve never said anything about Toure, I’ve typed my fair share of negativity towards others over the years. And then one day I had an epiphany.
One morning I saw someone tweet something ridiculously heinous to Tyrese. It was completely out of the blue, unprovoked, and done purely for attention. Now, I know this person…and – having interviewed Tyrese – I can say I have a fairly good idea of the type of guy he is as well. But as I read this tweet, and then watched it being retweeted, I couldn’t help but think, this would have never been said to Tyrese’s face.
In fact, most of the shit talking you see online, would never be done in person. Some of the loudest people online are quiet as church mice in real life, only content with throwing jabs from behind a screen. Now if that’s not the definition of lame, I don’t know what is.
Cool people don’t have time for cyber thugging. They consider their lives too valuable and have too much to lose to put all of their business on display for the world to see. And they certainly wouldn’t say something virtually, that they wouldn’t say to someone’s face.
Even the best of us scream YOLO every now and then and pray it doesn’t come back to bite us in the ass, but only a fool sits behind a screen and types away like they have nothing to lose. And someone with nothing to lose rarely has anything (of value) to offer.
But what else you got?
I work in an industry where the perks can be boundless. From concert and courtside tickets, to sneakers to free trips, there’s always something new and exclusive to get your hands on. And none of it should define you.
Those that let it define them, were the kids in school that only felt good about themselves when they had the new, hot shit.
Access is a privilege, not a character trait. Now don’t get me wrong, I benefit often from well-placed hook-ups – for which I am genuinely grateful – but an early mentor of mine once told me, “Build relationships with people, not the brand.”
There’s no better example of this than Damon Dash who in 2003 proclaimed, ‘I can never be broke, because I have rich friends.’
I’m just going to let you think about that one for a minute…
Relationships based on an anything other than a genuine admiration and respect for one another – be it material gain, professional growth or social status – have a shelf life. And when your supply of ‘cool shit’ runs out, so will many of your ‘friends’.
Cool story, bro
The very first time I met Will Smith was in 2004. I was at an event when he overheard a conversation between three friends and I. He walks over and proceeds to shake each of our hands and introduces himself, “Hi, I’m Will.”
Will Smith’s box office total is $787,333,389; he has 3 platinum albums, 3 Grammy’s and a classic television show. We knew who he was.
Will – you know, cause in my head we’re bff’s now – didn’t introduce himself to us on the off chance we didn’t recognize him, or to give us reason to fawn over him. He introduced himself to us because that’s what a normal human being (who’s not a dick) would do. He didn’t assume his own importance.
Now I will admit, I struggle with my own arrogance, often having to check myself when that ‘Daddy’s girl’ sense of entitlement tries to take over. The key is humility and remembering that the only promise life makes, is that it will go on.
Tatiana Grace, the head of Music for Twitter, said it best, “The world does not owe you fans.” It’s also easy to be nice to someone you need. The true test of how ‘cool’ you are, is how you treat the people you don’t.
I was at a brunch with relationship expert/television personality Tionna Smalls this weekend. Going in, I wasn’t quite a fan. I’d seen What Chilli Wants and didn’t quite ‘get’ Tionna and as we sat at the table, I told her this. But as time went on, and we all spoke about different topics, Tionna dominated, giving her opinion in such a relatable, non-judgmental way that you couldn’t help but like her. She knew her shit and whether she’s at a formal media brunch, on a television show or on the phone with her homegirl, she’s going to give it to you The Tionna Way.
That sort of range can only come from knowing and understanding who you really are, away from the influence of others. She didn’t need me to like her, it won’t change who or how she is. Anyone who’s opinion of themselves is shaped by someone else’s opinion, is the very opposite of cool.
Nowadays I don’t much care if I’m cool or not. As my never-ending search for balance continues, I find myself putting more thought into vegetable juice cleansing, classic house music and Alice Walker books than worrying about who fucks with me.
Back to the conversation with the person worried about the cool kids acceptance. I encouraged them to focus more on themselves. Learn to become comfortable with yourself in any situation. Develop some perspective to recognize things for what they really are, and stop giving power to foolishness, and then calling it ‘cool’.
The people with real power, money, influence and access are often some of the nicest people you will ever meet. They don’t subscribe to the Mean Girls mentality. They don’t have time to. The real cool kids ain’t worried about you.
And that’s what makes them cool.
By Paulo Coelho