Shaunie O’Neal Defends “Basketball Wives” Franchise

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As season three of “Basketball Wives” draws to a close, Shaunie O’Neal has emerged yet again as the wise all-knowing voice of reason in the otherwise unruly pack of women who are prone to drink throwing, hair pulling and plenty of profane dialogue. Many have criticized the franchise (including us here at HelloBeautiful) for negatively depicting Black women, including most recently cast member Royce Reed. As fingers continue to be pointed and accusations are thrown, Shaunie, (who came up with the concept for the show and wears the title as Executive Producer) often receives the brunt of the blame.  We spoke to Shaunie about the franchise she envisioned, the reality of the show that exists and what’s next for the “Basketball Wives” brand.  Shaunie held nothing back in this two-part interview.

How do you respond to Royce saying the show depicts Black Women negatively?
It’s hard for me hear somebody not take responsibility for what they say and do on camera. This is part of the reason why I didn’t really film with her.  But I don’t know that it’s depicting black women in a negative way, I do think that it’s highlighting the negative parts of certain black women’s personalities and lifestyle choices.  And that’s a battle that I fight, and constantly bring up in media and to the network to say ‘hey, all the good stuff we do, the conversations we have when everybody’s not calling each other the b-word, or the philanthropy that we do, can we at least show that so we can see the balance?’ It’s not a disagree or agree with Royce. I’m hoping that this part of Royce is her sitting back after seeing herself realizing her behavior is not okay.  ‘I’ve watched season one, I had a fight this season again, last season on the reunion I got up and slapped my ass, and cussed like a sailor.’ I’m hoping that this new Royce saying the show isn’t presenting us in a positive light has realized ‘what I’ve been portraying, is not okay, I’m not proud of it and I’m gonna change.’ I’m hoping that is it but I don’t know.

How much power do you actually have as an Executive Producer?  Are you able to edit yourself to appear better on the show?
We have many producers on our show. Being a cast member and a producer is a hard line to draw in the sand. I have to be a cast member, but also take my hands off of things and allow the rest of the production team to do their job.  At the end of the day–yes, I see all of the episodes before they air and I see it during the editing process.  I think they do now respect that I’ve been very vocal and I’ve taken it to another level as a opposed to us being behind closed doors and talking about it.  I’ve said out in public, listen ‘I am trying, behind closed doors, I’m trying.’ I’m just overruled. If there’s six of us at a table and five of them are voting, ‘no let’s put it in,’ and you got the one voice that’s saying ‘please don’t’– the voting is done.

So you don’t have the power to edit out unflattering scenes of yourself as Royce alluded to?
No, there are no scenes of that [behavior], that’s what it is.  In season two, Gloria and I got in to an argument.  That was nothing I was proud of.  It did happen, that was real, those things came out of my mouth, that issue did occur, of course there are bits and pieces you guys missed due to editing, but if I was out here just to make myself look pretty, I would have loved to delete that whole scene and you guys [would have] never seen it. But it was real and it happened.  It’s just nothing that happens on my every day life.  I don’t go around cussing out people and having arguments, it’s just not me.  It’s not that ‘oh they show Shaunie in a positive light’, I don’t do that! I don’t sit up in a restaurant talking about ‘oh, I almost got you and next time I’m not gonna miss’ and telling you to ‘kiss my ass as I walk away,’ and slap it.  That’s not me. So it’s not that I paint a pretty picture of myself, it’s not there to be painted any other way.

What can we expect to change on the show in the future?
We  just recently had a talk about going into season four, I’m like listen, we have got to do something different. We’ve got to get some real highlights of some real business women, some real moms, some real friends, etc. And I think that we will do a better job at showing that this [next] season, cause even I got tired of the arguing and fighting. I wasn’t in Miami a whole lot to film season three, so I wasn’t there a lot of times when things were going down. But afterwards I’m like ‘are you kidding me?’ Not again!

Stay tuned for the second part of our interview with Shaunie where speaks on the state of Jen & Evelyn’s friendship, Evelyn and Chad’s relationship and what really went down with ‘Messy Meeka’.

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