When I interviewed model Erica Mena for VIBE.com, I had no idea that it would lead to my firstÂ TV appearance. Technically, I’ve been on TV before if you count web TV where I’ve hosted segments or gotten interviewed, and even random appearances on the news as a kid for whatever program I was a part of. However, this was my first time on a major network actually being featured. It’s definitely something that was on my bucket list and that I will hopefully do again–but better.Â Yet over all it was an interesting learning experience.
I interviewed Erica Mena for VIBE.com shortly after the super trailer for VH1’s Love & Hip-Hop was released. At that time, most people saw a brief clip of Kimbella and Erica engaged in a vicious fight and wondered who the heck Erica was because she was a pretty face entangled in a brawl. My boss, Datwon Thomas, was good friends with Erica and figured that she would make a good interview. I reached out and Miss Mena had no qualms about speaking her mind. Little did I know, my interview ran as the girls were still taping the show and it sparked more beef. That’s when I got a call from Mona Scott-Young about recreating the interview for TV. So, what no one except for the parties involved knew was that the interview was taped so that viewers could have a frame of reference for what the heck Kimbella and Somaya were talking about. Peep the interview, along with more insight to how it all happened after the jump…
Our interview begins at 3:23, excuse the quality. I had to troll YouTube in order to find it because Vh1 took the original video down smh.
I can’t reveal everything about the behind the scenes action from the show, but here are a few of the most interesting lessons I learned from my experience:
1. You think you know reality TV but you don’t unless you do it. It’s not scripted as in people memorizing and rehearsing lines–contrary to popular belief–but it’s outlined and highly manipulated. Now I see how these women end up fighting and acting a general fool. It’s because they’re forced to create and/or dwell on moments over and over again for the sake of TV. And you watch. I’m not saying you as in you, but the numbers don’t lie. If there wasn’t a demand for the drama then more people would tune in to watch women actually being about their careers as opposed to who whispered behind their backs.
2. Mona Scott-Young is a muhphuckin’ boss! Seriously, her presence is a force. We didn’t really talk beyond setting up the interview, saying hello and her giving me direction on where she wanted the interview to go but from that small interaction I can see why she’s so in charge. I can’t explain it better than that, you just have to meet her.
3. I want to do more TV and I need to do better. It’s not that I think I did a bad job but I wasn’t as on as I could have been (this is not self-deprecation it’s just an honest opinion of myself). I need to find a balance between being laid back, which I am most of the time, and a little more animated, which I can be when I want to be.
4. Erica and I didn’t just sit around talking about Kimbella all day, which is what it looked like. We talked about a range of topics but it was edited down because that was what producers wanted to focus on. In addition, don’t think that editing is a valid excuse for acting a’fool on TV. I noticed that a lot of reality TV stars try to say that editing made them look crazy…nah son. Editing may cut out back story, splice clips together, or focus more on one particular thing, but it’s not the culprit in how someone behaves (I mean, how could it be?). Your behavior is the sum of your choices and actions. Speaking of behavior, I laughed at my facial expressions. It’s sorta my thing to be viscerally expressive and seeing it on TV made me see what people around me talk about when they laugh at something I may do with my face as an extension of my thoughts.
5. Something about seeing someone we know on TV makes us really, really excited. I don’t know why, it just does (I’m guilty of it too). Folks really think you made it and for me, that’s not the case yet. I’ve got a long way to go but I appreciate the love just the same and I appreciate going through that experience.