In this corner, you have Brian White: the son of a basketball legend (Jo Jo White) who himself played two professional sports (NFL and National Lacrosse League), is an Ivy League graduate (Dartmouth), is a former model, a Wall Street investor, an entrepreneur and an actor.
In this corner, you have NeNe Leakes: a former stripper-turned-reality TV superstar.
Two different sets of career credentials, but it was an even fight when White said Leakes was fulfilling the stereotypical black woman role on the “Real Housewives of Atlanta.”
White, who starred as a child molester in the Tyler Perry film I Can Do Bad All By Myself, opposite Taraji Henson, responded to a question about why Perry and his films have been the object of scorn and derision by industry peers, most notably Spike Lee and Idris Elba. That’s when White himself went on a tirade on the Hello Beautiful blog about how blacks are fulfilling the hideous stereotypes seen in high-rated reality shows.
“You can’t call it a stereotype if it’s the majority. The most prevalent image in ‘urban society’ right now is women like Nene Leakes. If there’s a fight that breaks out on ‘Love & Hip Hop’ those people are on every blog, the cover of every magazine the next week,” he ranted.
Leakes, who’s world-renowned for her readiness to engage in a verbal lashing, went ballistic on White via Twitter:
“Actors feel some type of way when Reality Stars work n their field! I started out actin first! I didn’t make the rule I just play by them,” Leakes said in an obvious dig on White. “Funny how actors get mad when u get an gig as if the castin director was lookin 4 them! If they were lookin 4 u, they would hav called u,” Leakes continued tweeting.
White, who also starred in Stomp The Yard and Fighting, is currently working alongside Michelle Williams in the traveling production “What My Husband Doesn’t Know,” which is also available on DVD. He also had this to say:
“The most popular character in Why Did I Get Married?, and it’s not the one that Tyler picked as the most popular, it’s Tasha! You have Janet Jackson and Jill Scott … my point is Jill Scott and Janet are huge music stars with huge fan bases; Tasha became the most popular because her character is portrayed the most like ‘Love & Hip Hop’ and the ‘Desperate Housewives of Atlanta’ (we believe White meant to say ‘Real Housewives of Altanta,’ but you get the point). You might as well switch it around and pop in Nene Leakes.”
Oh, but White was not finished. Not at all. He was just getting cranked up:
“And people get mad and say (the stereotypes are) not us. Yes it is; turn on ‘Love & Hip Hop’ and turn on ‘Desperate Housewives Of Atlanta’. Those are reality shows. You can’t call something reality, then get mad when it shows up in the movies as reality, but that’s what we’re doing. That’s where the cycle continues.”
And then he revs it up into fifth gear when he compares the women of “Love & Hip Hop” and “Real Housewives of Atlanta” to the women in his own family:
“I have five sisters and two moms, none of them are like that! To me, I can say I’m offended if they want to represent that and don’t want to represent my mom, but my mom represents Phylicia Rashād and has been represented on TV all my life. I can’t say that. I don’t watch “Real Housewives,” I’ve never seen an episode of ‘Love & Hop Hop’ I’m not supporting it, I’m not giving it ratings. I’m not making the stereotype exist on TV. You’ve watched it, you’ve added to why it’s on TV.”
When Leakes began to plant her teeth into White’s derriere, White attempted to soften the blow the printed words had made and blamed the writer for twisting his words around.
“@K_Ova Shocked at how positive our convo was on phone and to read her chopped up slanted version of it = Truly disgusted.”
Is it possible that White, who’s been criticized by some black women for marrying a white woman, was misconstrued by Leakes and others? Or is White on to something about the lasting damage being done by black reality shows? Even Chuck D, the legendary front man for rap group Public Enemy, would side with White on this. I heard him say during a tribute in his honor at the DuSable Museum in Chicago that Flava Flav’s reality-show buffoonery paled in comparison to the outright disgusting theatrics that’s exhibited routinely on “Basketball Wives.”
Did White hit a nerve that needed to be struck? What do you think?
– terry shropshire