That’s right everyone. Your girl Gem Jones aka Gemmie aka Slim Gem aka Truly Outrageous is a potential reality TV star in the making. Coming to a
ratchet respectable TV network near you!!!
Well, actually, that may be a bit premature…
And by “that time I got asked to do reality TV” I may be misleading you a tad. I wasn’t exactly asked to do reality TV. Only sorta kinda. Last week I received the following very random email:
Subject: Reality TV Casting – scientists, inventors, builders, tinkerers
Hello there – I am a reality TV casting producer at [redacted] in NYC. We are casting for a new show about scientists, inventors, builders, tinkerers, life hackers. Looking for talented, articulate, dynamic experts in these fields. Could be one person, a duo, a whole team.
To be honest, we are ideally looking for diversity – Hispanic, Asian, Indian, African-American BUT open to any amazing candidate(s) who have a great personality and know their stuff.
Ideally, looking for new talent who haven’t been pitched (too much) to the cable TV nets.
If this describes you or someone you know, I would love to hear from you.
Say what? This can’t be real. Who playin on my email? How’d they get my email? Is this spam? Could this be legit? Could I – or people “diverse” like me – be the new face of reality TV? Would I be willing to give it a try?
There was a time I wanted to be a superstar when I was younger. One of my [short-lived] dreams was to be a singer/dancer/actress/model, slash slash slash. I was quite the theatrical, whimsical child. Posing for the camera, performing for an audience.1 I liked to be seen and heard. Some might say I was an attention-seeker; I’d say preparing for a big break.
As most of you know, I am not a singer or dancer or actress or model. I am far from what anyone would classify as famous. Most days I use my neuroscience PhD to do “research”. On occasion I inspire the youths (*in my Schmidt voice*) of the world to realize and actualize their greatness. I sometimes attempt to blog. But I have had a few moments to be in the spotlight so to speak. I have managed to land my face on various literature and media regarding”diversity” for the various universities/institutions I’ve been associated with. I once even had my name, face, and opinions featured in Ebony, alongside 3 of my beautiful, Black, brilliant, PhD sisterfriends. In my own way, I’ve had my closeup, Mr. De Mille.
So I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t considered what it would be like to be on TV – reality or otherwise.
And not for the so-called “right” reasons either. Cuz, ya know, educated folk like myself are supposed to step on soapboxes to preach about all the negative stereotypes portrayed (by *fictional* characters and *real* individuals, alike) on TV and how they’re ruining the Black/POC image. Women of color especially! The portrayal of us on TV is. the. worst.
That’s all fine and good buttttt I wouldn’t be doing it to change the face of women on TV. I wouldn’t be doing it to show people that hey, look, Black(xican) women can be scientists and have noteworthy careers too. I wouldn’t try to convince viewers that Black women like me should who all young Black girls aspire to be.
I’d do it to just be the center of attention. And possibly feed into some stereotypes rather than debunk them. I’m like an onion, I’ve got layers. I’m not just some degree or profession. I indulge things that people may or may not approve of. And I may or may not have a track record of doing seemingly uncouth and ratchet shit with my seemingly vulgar friends (many of whom have hella degrees).
On TV, I may or may not be caught cleaning the bones of a basket of a half-dozen cajun-seasoned or “kitcken sink” chicken wings for $0.25 a piece at the local bar for “Wing Night” with my crew (and those who wish they were in the crew). I may or may not be caught pregaming on “thot juice” (aka Bud Light Lime-a-ritas and Straw-ber-ritas) for a night of debauchery. I may or may not be caught face down, ass up during any number of hood-classic, ratchet-tastic songs in da club. I may or may not flip tables over during a round of Spades. I may or may not use the N-word and drop F-bombs. I may or may not gossip. I may or may not do a whole host of things that would make some folks classify me as the wrong type of woman to be portrayed on TV. It’s all entirely possible.
What I can say for sure is that if I was on reality TV about whatever topic, I do not owe anyone only the best they think I have to offer. I don’t owe anyone wholesome filters on the type of behavior I exhibit. If people only want to see the part of me that reads scientific journal articles, presents research results during seminars, writes manuscripts, prepares grant applications, uses various computing languages for data analysis, attends conferences, and only speaks geek, well then I’m the wrong one for the job. Because BORING!
I love all the sciency, nerdy, PhD-y things about me that might set me apart from a lot of my peers. But I also love all the parts of me that make me similar to the casts of Love & Hip Hop (NYC, ATL, Hollywood), Real Housewives of Atlanta, and Basketball Wives.
Maybe I’m interesting enough to make an entertaining reality TV subject. Nah, who am I kidding, I’m not lol.
Would you watch someone like me on a reality TV show? Do you think reality TV needs more “wholesome” images of Black women? Would you do reality TV?
The Realest Realist,
1 I’ve got pictures and video footage as proof.