How did you come up with Love & Hip Hop?
Love & Hip Hop actually started out as a show about one of our clients, Jim Jones. The original idea was to do a show following Jim, the rapper, and when we got around to shooting the pilot, Jim actually made what we call ‘the anti-reality show.’ He was in a space where he didn’t know if he wanted to be followed around by cameras and as much as VH1 loved that concept their audience had changed tremendously in the time that it took to get the pilot shot. It had become more female-focused. We also found that Jim’s girlfriend and his mother were very, very strong characters, so Jim Ackerman, the executive over at VH1, was great about really being committed to the show and to the concept and wanting to do something with Jim and his family. We decided we were going to find some other dynamic women to surround them with in the cast and would build out an ensemble series. That’s how that came about.
What is your take on VH1 focusing a large portion of its shows on African American females with programming such as Basketball Wives and Football Wives?
You’ve got the fact that here is the opportunity to give some presence and a platform to the African American female experience, but I also think that how that experience is portrayed is something we have to be mindful of. The women I chose were all very good about opening up their lives and letting us see them at their rawest, most honest without putting on heirs or facades for the cameras. That’s not an easy thing to do. Sometimes you don’t have an opportunity to capture that when you’re going after the kinds of things that make these reality shows work.
When talking about the first ladies of Love & Hip Hop, some viewers highlight how several of these women seem solely dependent on men. As a businesswoman, how does the show fit into your larger brand?
There’s a very specific alignment to the show, the cast, and the women on the show and my own trajectory in this space. I came into this thing through hip-hop, and I navigated the world to kind of pursue the things that I was interested in and passionate about. It did provide opportunities for me. I don’t know if I would be in entertainment at all were it not for hip-hop and my entry through that world. As I got to know these women, I saw there was so much more to them then the men they dated. They were their support systems. They were their backbone. They were in the trenches with them when they had nothing and they made a lot of sacrifices, as well that enabled their men to succeed and to get to where they were.
What can people expect from Monami in the future?
I have a couple of other shows in various stages of development. In film production and development, I have two projects I’m currently developing now.
Tune into Love & Hip Hop on VH1 Mondays at 8/7c.