Breaking Down Beyoncé’s Iconic Brand

No doubt about it. In the R&B and Pop music world, 2013 was the year of Beyoncé. From singing/lip-synching the national anthem at the 2013 inauguration of President Obama and delivering a Super Bowl performance so fierce that all the lights went out in the stadium, to releasing her HBO documentary “Life Is But a Dream,” to a record-breaking viewership, dazzling fans worldwide with her “Mrs. Carter Show World Tour” and dropping her visual album “Beyoncé” online in the middle of the night to the delight of her fans in December, Beyonce did that. In fact, her influence has grown so much that the superstar is sparking conversations/controversies in other worlds.

Most recently, Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association, a conservative Christian advocacy group, took notice of Beyoncé. The AFA chastised her for posting an Instagram photo in which she positions herself in front of Jesus in Andy Warhol’s “Last Supper” mural–pictured above. In a statement to The Christian Post, Wildmon said, “Is nothing sacred anymore? This is clearly an act of disrespect towards Jesus Christ, whom Beyoncé covers up with her pose. This had to be done intentionally.”

Instagram users had various reactions. According to a Washington Times article, one user said, “Looks like the Last Supper, instead of Jesus its Beyoncé. Ummm epic fail boo. Jesus Christ is my savior, not you. Besides that, I love Beyoncé, but you will never be God.” Still other users said, “Praise Beyoncé” and donned her “Beysus.”

This controversy is on the heels of an apology Mrs. Carter issued to the families of the seven astronauts who perished in the space shuttle Challenger explosion on Jan. 28, 1986. In a song entitled “XO” a single off her new album, Beyonce used audio heard just before the explosion. At the beginning of the song, the words, “Flight controllers here looking very carefully at the situation. Obviously a major malfunction,” spoken by then NASA public affairs officer Steve Nesbitt. Shuttle commander Dick Scobee’s widow June Scobee Rodgers was reportedly “disappointed” with the audio’s use in the song. NASA is also displeased. Billboard reported NASA’s statement to The Hollywood Reporter, “The Challenger accident is an important part of our history, a tragic reminder that space exploration is risky and should never be trivialized.”

In a statement reported by ABC News, Beyoncé said, “My heart goes out to the families of those lost in the Challenger disaster. The song ‘XO’ was recorded with the sincerest intention to help heal those who have lost loved ones and to remind us that unexpected things happen, so love and appreciate every minute that you have with those who mean the most to you.” She was right to apologize to the families lost in the shuttle explosion, as the audio seems melodramatic juxtaposed to the whimsy expressed in the song and the video—the song being about the euphoric feeling of love and the video showing Beyonce and a large entourage traipsing around Brooklyn’s historic amusement park Coney Island. While her heart went out and apologies were issued to those affected by the Challenger disaster, Beyonce issued no apologies to those affected by her actions in Christian community–a community that she claims to be a part of. She referenced Jesus in her HBO documentary “Life Is But a Dream” and thanks Jesus for her blessings, but then she covers Him in a photo and posts it for all her followers to see with no remorse? I’m not judging, but I’m just sayin’.

Feminists have also been in an uproar about Beyoncé’s latest album. Some say she’s the face of modern feminism or the premier feminist for millennials. In her TIME magazine article “Flawless: 5 Lessons in Modern Feminism From Beyoncé,” Eliana Docketerman wrote, “Beyoncé has managed to become the biggest female pop star in the world while cultivating her marriage, her role as a mother, and her sexuality. And in doing so, she’s ushering in a new wave of feminism.”

But Beyoncé’s brand of feminism also has its detractors. Julia Sonenshein, contributing editor at who wrote the article Why White Feminists Are Mad At Beyoncé, told that, “White feminists tend to critique Beyoncé first and foremost for the way she uses her sexuality as a tool. White feminists also tend to criticize her attitude towards wealth and materialism, along with her bravado and confidence. While there is certainly room for criticism, and major figures like Beyoncé should be criticized, these particular conversations tend to approach any analysis from a very white point of view, and don’t consider how the themes of sexuality, wealth, and confidence differ across communities.” Although, getting nearly naked at every opportunity is so Josephine Baker...

And top it all off, Mrs. Carter, who is also known as King B, seems to be a good friend of Mrs. Obama, who has provoked the ire of feminists all by herself. In the Politico Magazine article, “Leaning Out: How Michelle Obama Became a Feminist Nightmare,” Michelle Cottle criticized our First Lady for neglecting to address more pressing issues in order to champion gardening, soothe wounded soldiers and read to children.

With Michelle’s Obama 50th party around the corner, Washington Post writer Krissah Thompson speculates that Beyoncé will be in the house. In her article, “Michelle Obama and Beyoncé: Friends and feminists?” Thompson said, “The public statements and choices made by Michelle Obama and Beyoncé represent a specific feminist strain of thinking on women, work and family, students of feminism say, that could rightly be called Beyoncéism.” Some may criticize the First Lady’s admiration of Beyoncé, and I get that. But in a strange way, I think it’s kind of cool that a First Lady would be friends with a (sometimes) controversial superstar. I can’t see former First Lady Laura Bush getting down with Lady Gaga.

As a pop culture enthusiast, there is no doubt that Beyoncé should be lauded for her unstoppable work ethic. I think she offers good if not controversial music.. I even admire her unique brand of feminism. Her life provides a positive image of a successful career, a marriage and motherhood to counteract the increasing acceptance of the baby mama/baby daddy culture. Her example may even have some value for women in the black church who still struggle for equality in leadership.

But as the Instagram user noted, Beyoncé nor King B is my savior and should not be made an idol, and sometimes I believe her fan base falls prey to that temptation. (I’m readying myself for the Beyhive as I type.) Her Instagram photo makes me question her motives, but maybe her motives are as simple as keeping her name in the media. As someone once said, “all publicity is good publicity.” However, I hope Beyoncé, if she truly professes a belief in Jesus Christ, does not make such publicity, which is ill-advised at best and sacrilegious at worst, a habit.


Exhale: Magic Johnson’s Aspire Network Launches New Talk Show Series

The hosts of Magic Johnson’s new talk show, Exhale. From left to right: Angela Burt-Murray, Erin Jackson, Issa Rae, Rene Syler and Malinda Williams. (Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Holness).

Just a few years ago Rene Syler was at a crossroads in her life. She had lost her lucrative position as an anchor for CBS’ “The Early Show,” which is now defunct. She had a preventive mastectomy as the daughter of two breast cancer survivors. And she lost her hair after a bad relaxer. (Talk about black girl blues!) However, she turned a corner in her journey when she wrote “Good Enough Mother: The Perfectly Imperfect Book of Parenting” in March 2007 and created her website from the book. From there, she nurtured her online presence through blogging and social media. Eventually Magic Johnson’s new network ASPiRE, launched a year ago today, took notice and asked her and four other African-American women (Journalist Angela Burt-Murray, Actress Malinda Williams, Comedian Erin Jackson and Writer/Actress Issa Rae) to be the hosts of its first original weekly talk show series “Exhale.” The eight-episode show debuted last night at 8 p.m. EDT. After the premiere, new episodes will begin July 10 in its regularly scheduled time slot on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EDT.

I spoke with Rene at the Atlanta premiere for the groundbreaking television show. “I think the biggest lesson I learned is that I took an untenable situation and made something of it,” Rene said. “I realized I had to save myself and have a career rebirth. I’m excited, energized and looking forward to the next chapter in my reinvention.”

I, along with other media professionals, bloggers and members of the entertainment community in Atlanta where the new network is based, were invited to watch the first episode which featured guests Judge Lynn Toler, host of “Divorce Court,” actress Tichina Arnold who starred in the hilarious “Everybody Hates Chris,” Celebrity Matchmaker Jasmine Diaz and Dr. Nicole LaBeach, a life coach.

From this first episode, which focused on relationships (a topic always guaranteed to get women talking like no other), I learned that each woman brought a unique and interesting perspective to the talk show. Actress Malinda Williams, who I adored in “The Wood,” interviewed Judge Toler about divorce as Malinda revealed she is a two-time divorcée. During the interview, Judge Toler talked about how her television. program prevented her own marriage from ending. I spoke with Malinda as well. “I’m an actress, mother, sister and friend and so I bring those points of view and perspective. People may see me as a celebrity, but I’m just like everyone else.”

Also during the first show Issa Rae, the witty and sharp creator of her awesome web series “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” lamented about her belief that black women and Asian men are the bottom of the dating totem pole to the laughter of the audience. As the lone member of the cast under 30 years old, she is able to offer the 20-something angle. “Since I am from a different generation, I have a different viewpoint. I’m here to learn.”

As a journalist, I am familiar with Angela Burt-Murray, a former editor-in-chief of ESSENCE magazine and now creator of, which features celebrity interviews and urban pop culture stories. Although Angela said she is typically guarded about her personal life, she disclosed during the first episode that she and her husband have been to therapy for marital issues. “For 15 years, I have been telling the stories of African-American women and now I have a different platform to tell their stories.”

Comedian Erin Jackson was also tapped to be a co-host on “Exhale.” Interracial dating was a topic of discussion during the first episode. Erin said that she dated a Hispanic man, NOT a white man (as many typically assume that an interracial couple is a black person and a white person). “Since I’m a stand-up comedian, I bring a lot of sarcasm and my ‘mom eyes’ although I’m not a mother,” Erin said with a laugh as she widened her eyes for me to see.

Aside from relationships, the women will also discuss other issues that elicit and warrant in-depth conversation. From HIV/AIDS in the black community to the objectification of black women, the show promises to deliver a diverse amount of content. In the faith and religion episode, they will speak with DeVon Franklin, Columbia Pictures executive and “Produced By Faith” author, R&B artist Kelly Price, Pastor Beverly Crawford and Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson, atheist and author of “Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics and The Value Wars.” Controversies such as homosexuality in the black church and the increasing number of black atheists will be conversation topics.

As a talk show connoisseur who cut her teeth on the long-running “The Phil Donahue Show,” “The Jenny Jones Show” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the show and the mix of personalities hosting “Exhale.” When I first heard of the show, I wondered if the show would be a “’The View’- esque” type of show, but other than multiple women hosting the show, the show is markedly different. This talk show offers FIVE BLACK but varied vantage points.

“Exhale” Executive Producer Lynne Robinson said, “’Exhale’ is a show that features five amazing hosts, who will open up and talk about everything that is on the minds of women today. In each episode, they share intimate, spirited and honest dialogue to make you laugh and sometimes make you cry. We are thrilled to bring these provocative, enlightening conversations with these dynamic women in a compelling new series to life on ASPiRE.”

Can Iyanla Vanzant Fix Your Life?

Iyanla Vanzant (pictured above) is a self-help author, life coach, and star of the hit reality-show “Iyanla: Fix My Life”. Her show airs on Saturdays at 9/8c on the OWN Network (Photo Credit:

I first heard of Iyanla Vanzant in the ‘90s when I was a college student. Although I hadn’t yet developed my relationship with God, the spiritual message she shared on Oprah, my patron saint at the time, attracted me. Also, Iyanla’s story of ascent from welfare mother to lawyer inspired me. Her books — “Acts of Faith: Daily Meditations for People of Color”; “Faith in the Valley: Lessons for Women on the Journey to Peace”; and “The Value in the Valley: A Black Woman’s Guide Through Life’s Dilemmas” – delivered the self-empowerment messages I craved as I entered adulthood.

However, as my relationship with God deepened in my ‘20s, I realized that Iyanla was a Yoruba priestess and maybe I didn’t need to seek that kind of wisdom from someone who didn’t share my Christian beliefs. Still, I occasionally thumbed through her books to extract the positive messages without being lured into her belief system. And then, suddenly, I stopped hearing about her altogether. Apparently, while Oprah was grooming the self-help guru to have her own talk show – similar to the way she groomed Dr. Phil – Iyanla reportedly gave her an ultimatum: give me a talk show or I’ll secure one with another media outlet. Oprah did not give her a show, but Barbara Walters did. The talk show, however, was short lived, only lasting for one season. The loss of Iyanla’s talk show marked the beginning of her descent: her husband divorced her, she lost her daughter to cancer, and declared bankruptcy.

Once Oprah started the OWN network, the media queen and her protégé eventually mended their relationship. In February 2011, the two held a raw and honest multi-episode conversation and reconciliation that revealed what really transpired just over a decade earlier. After their exchange, Iyanla received an invitation to be an expert on “Oprah’s Lifeclass” show and, ultimately, an offer to host her own show, “Iyanla: Fix My Life”, on Winfrey’s network. I watched a few of the first season episodes, but this season has set media outlets and social media buzzing. The April 13th season premiere featured DMX, a rap artist who has become as well known for his multiple arrests and erratic behavior as he is for his music, and his estranged teenage son Xavier. The episode made for gripping television: DMX nearly threatened Iyanla; shared tender moments with his son; and spoke in his trademark staccato speech patterns (which sound better in a rap song than an interview). The rapper, whose birth name is Earl Simmons, talked about being sent to a group home as a child, his drug abuse, meeting his now estranged wife Tarshera and cheating on her with multiple women. When the 90-minute show ends, the audience knows a lot about DMX and his family, but it doesn’t seem that DMX’s life has been “fixed.” In fact, he doesn’t want the show to be aired again and is reportedly planning to sue Iyanla.

In the second show, which aired April 20, Iyanla endeavors to fix the life of Sheree Whitfield, the former “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” star, and Bob Whitfield, her ex-husband and former Atlanta Falcons football player. From this episode, we learn that their marriage was troubled from the beginning: Mr. Whitfield wed his ex-wife because she was pregnant. Whitfield accused her of creating drama to be used as footage for the hit reality show and obsessing over the construction of her dream mansion Château Sheree. Sheree, on the other hand, accused her former husband of being a deadbeat dad because of his refusal to pay child support and take care of their two children. By the end of the episode, both parties readily admitted they don’t like each other and Iyanla admitted that she had not “fixed” their lives.

Today’s episode will feature popular Atlanta DJ “Sasha the Diva,” her 17-year-old son, and her new husband. Apparently, the son she raised as a single parent is acting out now that his mother has gotten married. I heard Sasha speaking about the episode a couple of weeks ago as she was the host of a seminar at a bridal show I attended. She said before she called Iyanla, she thought she was going to have to either choose her son or her husband, but Iyanla helped her to maintain both relationships. Well, I guess we will have to see for ourselves what transpires because if the past two episodes have been any indication of what is to come, there will be a whole lot of business sharing but not as much fixing.

Nevertheless, I must admit that I am a fan of the show. Iyanla has highlighted issues impacting the black community – such as drug abuse, single parenthood and blended family drama – in a way that addresses them without exploiting them. At the same time, I wonder if being on a single episode is helping families resolve issues that will likely take years of counseling to address. And while I haven’t heard Iyanla make any pointed references to her religious beliefs, I wonder if she is promoting them in any way as she counsels her show’s participants. Her new show is entertaining and educational, but Christians may need to be discerning about her advice.

The Scroll: A Documentary on African-American Ministers

The Scroll Movie, airing each February Sunday evening on the ASPiRE network at 8 p.m. (Photo courtesy of

Like many children, film director Parrish Smith, the son of a Baptist pastor, often fell asleep in church. Still his father would manage to awaken his son from time to time. “When my father used parables and stories in his sermons they somehow woke me up,” says Smith. In a good story, you can extract jewels of information and knowledge.” And thus seeds were planted for the future visual storyteller.

A desire to highlight the gifted storytelling of pastors and ministers inspired Smith to interview some of the 21st century’s highest-profile ministers, evangelists, and church leaders, examining the journeys of faith, hope, and perseverance that led these individuals to the positions of positive influence they now today in the documentary “THE SCROLL: Evidence of Life Unseen.” The four-part documentary will premiere this Sunday, Feb. 3 at 8 p.m. on the ASPiRE network, a television network launched June 27, 2012 by Magic Johnson Enterprises. The remaining parts of the documentary will be air at 8 p.m. on the following Sundays: February 10th, February 17th, and February24th.

Some of the faith leaders featured in the documentary are: Bishop T. D. Jakes, Rev. Al Sharpton Jr., Rev. Bernice A. King, Dr. Calvin O. Butts III, Rev. Dr. Jamal Bryant, Bishop Noel Jones, Pastor Floyd H. Flake, Bishop Kenneth Ulmer, Bishop Charles E. Blake, Rev. Dr. Della Reese Lett, Bishop Paul S. Morton, Pastor A.R. Bernard, and Bishop Joseph L. Garlington. A trailer of the THE SCROLL is included below:

“In THE SCROLL, I wanted to uplift and pay homage to pastors and to ministers and to my father who is deceased,” says Smith, who directed the documentary and served as its executive producer along with Leona D. Willis.  “People often see the negative side of ministers – the buffoonery, money, cars. In THE SCROLL, the ministers share stories from their life and the common link is faith.”

Smith spent three years conducting extensive interviews with more than 50 of the country’s most respected pastors and ministers, and many share parts of their lives that they have never shared so publicly before.

“My interview with Rev. Bernice King was a hard interview because of who she is, and she is very guarded,” says Smith. “She talks about how her faith wavered when her mother and her sister passed away. She was mad at God. How can you be a minister and be angry with God? Just her being candid about being mad with God is not something you hear a minister or pastor saying. And just to hear a minister say that gives you hope when you go through the same situation.”

His interview with Rev. Dr. Jamal Bryant was very revealing as well. “Everyone or most everyone knows that Jamal Bryant committed adultery and lost a good chunk of his congregation,” says Smith. “Many people shunned him, and he felt isolated. At the same time, God said to him I can bring you through this if you don’t lose sight of me. Adultery affects a lot of people. About 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, and adultery is one of the number one reasons for divorce. These pastors are sharing a lot of candid stories and show that we are all flawed.”

Some faith leaders even shared what some may believe is unthinkable. “Bishop Noel Jones revealed that he sometimes questions the existence of God. People think if you’re a bishop, your faith should be so strong all of the time.”

Smith admits it wasn’t easy to get these pastors and ministers to share personal stories from their lives. “That’s why it took three years when I was hoping it would take one year to make,” says Smith with a laugh. “I had to go through executive assistants and publicists. When I was growing up, the ministers were touchable. I got a lot of “Who are yous?” I had to call three and four times and sometimes 10 and 15 times, but little by little, they started to say yes. The more we did, the more we were able to do.”

Also, Smith enabled the pastors and ministers to feel comfortable by establishing some parameters around the interviews. “I limited the amount of people in the room to three people when I interviewed them,” says Smith. “When you had more than three people in the room, you got a sermon, but under three people, you got a conversation. Each interview was about one hour or so and they loosened up after an hour.”

And now the faith leaders are helping to promote the documentary. Bishop T.D. Jakes of The Potter’s House in Dallas, another of the church leaders profiled, says the program represents “an opportunity to know, intimately, the persons behind the message. It’s like the distinction between reading the Old Testament and the New Testament. In the Old Testament we learn what the Apostles said, but we don’t learn much about who they were. Sometimes our greatest messages are not in our lips, but in our struggles.”

Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., pastor emeritus of the Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago’s South Side, says THE SCROLL “captures a slice of African-American faith life that probably nobody else has captured, from a wide variety of clergypersons…conservative, liberal, young, old, pastors, teachers, and persons who have labored long and below the radar.”

Bishop Paul S. Morton of Greater St. Stephen Full Gospel Baptist Church in New Orleans, adds: “I think people need to hear from people of influence in the body of Christ that they really look up to: Have they really been through anything? Has anything happened in their lives? What are they dealing with in their lives?”

For more information, go to

The Real Preachers’ Wives of Atlanta

DESPERATE PASTORS’ WIVES?: The women of ‘The Sisterhood,’ (from left) Christina Murray, DeLana Rutherford, Tara Lewis, Ivy Couch, and Domonique Scott. (Photo courtesy of TLC)

I’ve got to admit I do watch The Real Housewives of Atlanta just about every Sunday night. And now that True Entertainment, the company that produces the raucous reality show, is producing a new reality show about Atlanta “first ladies,” I will probably be watching that show when it debuts Tuesday, Jan. 1, at 9 p.m. ET on TLC. The Sisterhood features five preachers’ wives: Christina, DeLana, Domonique, Ivy, and Tara. From the trailer many saw of the show, these preachers’ wives are not the circumspect, stand-behind-your man type of women that many would expect preachers’ wives to be. In the trailer, Domonique is a former drug addict and shows the other preachers’ wives a home in Miami where she used to smoke crack; Tara is a fitness buff with a penchant for getting tattoos and convinces Domonique to get one too; Ivy is shown getting handcuffs as a gift from her husband Mark, pastor of Emmanuel Tabernacle Church, and proceeds to share about their relationship. In fact, the trailer is so controversial that a petition to get the show off the air was initiated on

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution offered more in-depth descriptions of each first lady, which proved to be very interesting. For example, while Domonique Scott, 45, is a cast member, she is no longer technically a first lady, as she and her husband Brian had to close down their church after experiencing “hard times.” The website for Good Life International Church, however, is still up.

Christina Murray, 34, is married to Anthony, pastor of Oasis Family Life Church. The couple has two teenaged daughters who apparently will provide some drama for the show, as they are “as sassy as their mother.”

DeLana Rutherford, 37, is married to Myles Rutherford, pastor of Worship with Wonders Church. Apparently, the duo utilizes music as an integral part of their ministry, as they compose their own music and perform it each Sunday.

A former member of the ’90s R&B group Xscape, Ivy Couch, 35, is using her gifts for the Lord as a wife and mother to a 1-year-old son.

Like her fellow castmate Domonique, Tara Lewis, 41, is technically not a first lady either, as her husband, Dr. Brian Lewis, lost his position at a church after only working there for six weeks. As the couple and children recently located to the metro Atlanta area from Los Angeles, the show will demonstrate how the family is adjusting to all of these life-changing events. For future reference, this is the first lady who likes to get “tatted up” and was trying to convince Domonique to follow suit in the trailer.

After watching the trailer, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but after watching a pre-screening of the first episode, I began to believe this show could potentially offer something more valuable than the latest over-the-top drama featured on many if not most reality shows. I was also able to interview Domonique and Ivy, and they admit the trailer for the show even rattled them.

“As you can imagine when my husband gives me handcuffs, I have gotten, it has run the gamut from shock to disappointment to ‘I cannot believe this’ to some people saying, ‘Thank God y’all do have a healthy intimate life.’ I have gotten it all,” said Ivy.

However, Ivy noted that what was shown in the trailer does not entirely represent all of what transpired with her throughout the course of the season.

“I think the trailer does its job in terms of stirring up controversy, making people want to watch the show, but God gave me peace about it, and I love Him because He vindicates in due time,” she said. “And when I use the word ‘vindicate,’ I mean He will reveal the truth of who you are over time. I’m not ashamed of that, but the whole scene has not been revealed.”

Dominique has also been challenged by reactions she has received from clergy friends.

“A lot of my so-called friends, clergy members or whatever, they are like, ‘Why are you on there on telling people you used to smoke crack and why did you get a tattoo?’ And I’m like, ‘God still delivers, He still saves, right?’ I’m not ashamed of what God has done for me. If you are ashamed of Him before men, He will be ashamed of you before the Father, so I’m not ashamed of what God has done for me,” she said. “They also said, ‘Well, according to the Bible, you are not supposed to mark yourself.’ I said, ‘That was Old Testament.’…We are under the new covenant, which is grace and mercy.”

In the first episode, I saw some angst as Domonique and her husband Brian visit Christina and Anthony’s church, which seems to be growing and thriving, while their own church had to be shut down due to some admitted financial irresponsibility on their part and decreasing membership. I don’t know how this particular story line will develop, but I like it because Atlanta is likely the mecca for many of the country’s largest megachurches. Still, there are many, many churches in the metro Atlanta area that have not grown as much as others, and I imagine that many pastor’s wives feel what Domonique appeared to have felt in the first episode.

Domonique likened the scene in the first episode to the Bible story about the two women who birthed babies, one of whom died. The mother of the baby that died falsely accused the other woman of stealing her baby.

“What you saw in that scene was a little bit like, ‘God, if we would have just held on a little bit longer, or we would have done this a little bit different, or we would blah blah blah, we could be holding our own living child,’” she said. “But nevertheless I’m going to celebrate and be happy for you and know and trust and believe that God is going to bring this around back to me.”

Viewers will also learn more about what it is like to be first lady of an inner-city church through Ivy’s experiences. As her church is on Dill Avenue, in one of the rougher parts of the city, many of their church members are former prostitutes, drug dealers and gang leaders, according to Ivy. Domonique also shares her experiences as a former drug addict throughout the season.

“You’re going to experience the journey that you would think I had experienced 20 years ago. We are trained as Christians to forgive, and I forgave everybody, but I didn’t take care of me. I’m grateful to TLC because they allowed me to go back and just really deal with some things full frontal,” said Domonique.

While those story lines seemed to be the more redeeming parts of the show, every reality show worth its salt has to have some drama. In this episode, Domonique and Ivy seem to be at odds with fitness buff Tara, whose husband offers a unique perspective as a Jewish man who converted to Christianity before entering the ministry. There are also many discussions among the other wives and husbands about what could have possibly transpired to lead to the dismissal of Dr. Lewis only six weeks after arriving at a church. Tara is often seen quoting Scripture at every opportunity (even while working out), while the other women want to reveal who they truly are outside of their roles as first ladies.

“It’s very challenging to deal with anyone who just don’t keep it 100,” said Domonique about her relationship with Tara on the show. “You have to see yourself—good or bad—for what it is. And when you can’t, then for me it is a challenge to walk with you because of the places that God delivered me from. I don’t know no other way. I need for you to be who you are all the time. Don’t be this way today and this way tomorrow and be this way in front of Bishop Tulalala and be this way in front of Scooby Dooby Doo.”

I spoke with some other metro Atlanta first ladies to get their perspective on the controversial show. Of course, I had to start with my mother, Alice May Holness, who has been the first lady of Central Christian Church for over 30 years. After watching the trailer, my mother said, “I don’t think I will watch the show because I didn’t see anything that drew me to it, maybe because of the age difference between me and the women.  Also, I don’t even really like the term ‘first lady,’ because people think that being a first lady is about being into fashion and wearing big hats. There is a lot more than glamour. You have to have genuine love for people to be a pastor’s wife. Your main goal is to be supportive of your husband. It’s an awesome responsibility, and there is a soberness that comes with it.”

Rev. Elaine Gattis, first lady and executive minister of the historic Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Stockbridge, had a similar reaction to the show after watching the trailer.

At first glance, I can say that I did not like that the show seems to play into a culture of superficiality and materialism that many other shows such as The Real Housewives of Atlanta breeds,” said Gattis, who admitted she watches The Real Housewives of Atlanta as a guilty pleasure. “As Christian women, I was somewhat disappointed that there did not seem to be any display of class and modesty that first ladies should display, not just in front of the congregation but behind the scenes in ‘real life’ as well.”

However, Madelyn Battle, who is the first lady of the Upper Room Church in Riverdale, said she is somewhat intrigued by the show.

“The way it seems that first ladies are portrayed on this show is not realistic,” said Battle. “But I would like to see the show for myself in order to have a clearer understanding and perspective of the show. I think that to be a successful first lady, we need to look at 2 John for the biblical guidelines of what a first or elect lady should look like. She should first be a success as a good homemaker and support to her husband. She should also have healthy self-esteem, being aware of her own purpose and her own calling.”

Ivy said that people should tune in before making a snap judgment after seeing the trailer.

“From the trailer, you really don’t get a full picture of who we are as women or who we are as wives, but you do get some very, very controversial pieces of who we are,” said Ivy. “Watch and see because it’s going to be a ride. It’s wild. It’s funny. It’s tear-jerking. It’s very emotional. It’s cathartic. It’s all of these things rolled into one.”