I liken black people and reality TV to that famous quote from “Forrest Gump” about life being like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re gonna get. A year ago, amid public outcry, Oxygen cancelled “All My Babies’ Mamas” about rapper Shawty Lo and his 11 kids with 10 women (I’m still convinced that no such show was ever planned and it was just a bad joke). And though Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” has maintained its status as a top-rated show, the foolywang these good and grown ladies occasionally entertain continues to draw controversy (Can we say Kandi Burruss and Mama Joyce).
But “Blood, Sweat & Heels,” one of Bravo’s newest reality shows that follows the lives of six successful 30-something black women in New York City, promises to be different. The show premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. EST.
“We are all business women and we deal with real issues that you may have dealt with your friends or another girlfriend has dealt with. You’re definitely going to see a real front seat of what it takes to be a girl in New York City and how much blood, sweat and heels it takes to survive,” explains cast member Daisy Lewellyn.
A style expert who’s appeared on the “Today” show, “The Dr. Oz Show” and “The Wendy Williams Show,” Lewellyn, 33, has worked at InStyle, Glamour and Essence magazines and is author of “Never Pay Retail Again: Shop Smart, Spend Less, and Look Your Best Ever.” She shares the spotlight with former video vixen-turned real estate broker Melyssa Ford, real estate partner Brie Bythewood, modeling agency owner Mica Hughes, “A Belle in Brooklyn” blogger and author Demetria Lucas and style and pop culture journalist Geneva S. Thomas.
Just because these ladies are about their business doesn’t mean this show lacks humor. I will tell you right now that Hughes is the NeNe Leakes of the bunch, you know, the one who’ll keep you laughing with her one-liners and expressions. And, if you’ve seen any of the show’s promos, these New York gals have their share of drama, too.
“Stay tuned! Buckle your seat belt,” Lewellyn playfully warns.
The bubbly Lewellyn talked to XFINITY about why Jesus is her man (this is addressed in the first episode), being happy and single and what else we can expect from “Blood, Sweat & Heels.”
I’ve seen the first episode and found it humorous. Have you seen any of the episodes?
I’ve seen the first episode and I could not stop laughing the entire episode. Even the crazy stuff I laughed. I don’t know, maybe it was a nervous laugh. I thought it was really funny. I was very happy with the first episode it was just the way that I remembered it. It was accurate.
You mentioned a nervous laugh. Are you nervous about the reception?
I’m not. That’s probably the million-dollar question that I get about seven times a day. At first I was like ‘why is everyone asking me if I’m nervous?’ I didn’t understand. Why are you asking me if I’m nervous?
There seem to be some explosive moments in the promos of the show and I wondered if you were nervous about that and how people may perceive you.
I think it’s definitely an understandable question. I’m absolutely not nervous. I’m really excited. All that I did was simply be Daisy Lewellyn. I am a TV personality and I do makeovers but this was definitely different because the cameras never stopped rolling. But I was excited to allow the cameras into my life so that they could see that working in the fashion business is not all champagne days and Louboutin nights; there’s actual work involved. And then there’s managing your friendships and your family, trying to get that sparkly, shiny ring and not just settle for what’s presented to you but really, really go for what you know and just basically have it all. I feel comfortable with everything that I did. I never felt like, ‘Oh, gosh, why did I do that, why did I say that?’ because I was just being myself. I am completely comfortable with who I am and I’m excited for people to watch.
What does having it all mean to you and what do you think it means to your cast mates and other women you know?
Having it all is the mantra of the quintessential New York City career girl. Long gone are the days where you have to choose be a wife or if you want to have a booming career. For me that means constantly being on television, landing a makeover show, being the Martha Stewart of fashion and beauty and having a great husband. I’m very traditional so that means I’m cooking for my husband, taking care of the kids and he’s taking care of me. And it’s still having all the great looks—you’ve got to look good.
I’m the Queen of Effortless Chic because we know as women you don’t have a lot of time and the more successful you are, the busier you get. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get in 30 minutes of spin class and grab a great color dress and look amazing and have your favorite lip gloss and cheek blush to look great. Having it all literally means having it all and having peace of mind because I think a lot of people think to have all of that equals a stress party. I’m really not into stress; it ages you, it’s never looked good on me. I do think balance is slightly over-rated. I don’t know if you’re ever going to have a balanced day but you definitely can focus on what’s important at the moment and live in it as you like.
You mentioned a husband. There’s been a focus on black women being unable to find suitable mates. These women look good on paper—educated, financially stable, house, car—but over the past six years I’ve been meeting so many black men who also look good on paper who are saying the same thing.
To my surprise, Aisha, I’ve actually heard the same thing. Living in New York City everyone is basically good looking, you’ve got that checked. I have a lot of single girlfriends—they’re all successful, they’re all smart, bright and gorgeous—and of course, a lot of times they say we can’t kind a good guy or we can’t find someone to marry. And recently I’ve been meeting guys that say, ‘Listen, it’s difficult for us to find someone as well.’ I do think that when you’re demanding I want this in a guy and that in a guy, you have to bring something to the table, too. For me, instead of focusing on ‘Oh, God, I’m single now, this is the worst thing ever,’ I’m focusing on building myself up, letting me be the best Daisy that I can be so that first of all I am happy. So when I do meet my match, meet my soul mate, my husband and my Prince Charming, we’ll be two happy people coming together to support each other in our happiness and in life.
Do we get a chance to see you go on dates on the show?
Girl, yes… well, if that’s what you want to call it–a date–then yes.
Who are you closest with on the show?
I was friends with all of the girls except for Melyssa. All of the other girls, I knew them, we had been in social settings together. I was cool with everyone before the show started and I definitely was closer with some. On the show you’re going see a roller-coaster ride with some of the individual friendships and then as a group with friendships, with this group over here and that group over there. I definitely have a soft spot for Mica. Mica and I, we share the same faith, we’re very close in that we support each other and we allow each other to be ourselves. And we have a great time. I definitely have a soft spot for Melyssa. She’s very open, she’s very honest. She’s a sweet girl. I think you’ll see us on the show going through differences but I definitely have a sweet spot for those two.
Part of the show films during your Brooklyn Brunch Series. Could you explain what that is for those unfamiliar with it?
The Brooklyn Brunch Series is a private event that I host every first Sunday at a different venue for my fabulous, cool, gorgeous friends. It’s an opportunity to get together, for my friends to have a tasty brunch, drink mimosas and really have discussions on things we love to talk about anyway but in a bigger forum. We talk about things like why so many black women are beautiful, educated and single or we talk about things like interracial dating. There’s no judgment. I started the Brooklyn Brunch Series at the end of 2011 and it’s been growing ever since.
During that same episode, you say that Jesus is your man, something I’ve heard more black women say than any other group of women. In one scene, we see Demetria telling you that Jesus can’t f— you.
Oh, we love our Jesus. You know what, I’m a happy person–I have a great career, I have friends, great shoes–but I credit my happiness to Jesus. So when I say that my husband, my man is Jesus, it’s that he’s taking so good care of me right now. He’s making sure that Daisy is cared for, that she’s loved, that she is fulfilled. And until he brings in Mr. Right and not Mr. Right Now, he’s the placeholder. And us single women, we just have to keep ourselves busy serving others, busy serving God and busy with our career and not so much worried about ‘where is my man?’ Because you can have a man. I could be married today if I wanted to but I want to be married to the person that I was meant to marry. Don’t settle.
What do you want women to take away from this show?
I really would like women to take away the notions and the elements of perseverance, self-esteem, self-determination and believing in yourself no matter what. Sometimes you’re surprised with where the support comes from and where the support does not come from. But at the end of the day, you must believe in yourself first and you cannot seek validation from other people. You need to seek your validation from God because He created you and He has the best plan for your life.