The Cast of ‘Summer House: Martha’s Vineyard’ Talks Shattering Stereotypes on Reality TV

Bravo is making heads turn and eyebrows raise as it debuts its official spinoff to the summer house franchise, “Summer House: Martha’s Vineyard.”

Martha’s Vineyard is an island in the Northeastern United States south of Cape Cod in Dukes County, Massachusetts. While known for its scenic beaches and Black prestige residency, this summer, it is the prime destination for all things fun and unexpectedly disruptive. The reality show follows the journey of an all-Black cast, the first of its kind in the franchise coming to the Vineyard looking for love and a good time with friends.

BLACK ENTERPRISE spoke to three of the 12 cast members, Amir Lancaster, Jordan Emmanuel, and Preston Mitchum, to talk about inclusivity, what they learned, and their hopes for the show. 

Martha’s Vineyard celebrates Blackness and success, meeting all in one. Am I hitting it on the nail?

Preston Mitchum: 100 percent. It’s interesting you say that because I describe the show as a love letter to the Vineyard. There are many times we have yet to learn the history of the Vineyard, myself included, about all the rich past and legacies, including the Black people and Black collectives who owned the homes, the generational legacy, and the wealth, both in terms of finance and enriched love. There’s a lot of deep history, and I hope that is the part people take away from it.

Preston, on the show, you are deconstructing gender norms. How important is it to have Black Queer representation on a reality show like this one?

PM: The reality is, I think, for so long, TV, film, and media broadly create caricatures of Black or Black queer people. They become the totality of their queerness, or their queerness becomes the totality of them, making them one-dimensional. I tell people all the time, I love being queer, I love being gay, but I also love being Black. I’m certainly not the only person like Preston that exists, and we often don’t get these opportunities. 

Being the only Black queer person on the show and among these friend groups, I think viewers will also appreciate the dynamics of what it means to have straight men be in love and community with their friend who happens to be gay and are fiercely protective of him. 

Amir, you’ve spoken about not feeling like you were able to connect to the Black side of your family growing up. Being on the show, did you feel more connected to your Blackness?

Amir Lancaster: Yes, I found a piece of myself and my identity that I never thought I would have been able to come across. I found it in a way that is very unique from other people. Many of my friends who have grown up with Black families and backgrounds have that essence. The real building of my identity didn’t come from outside the house and our experiences. It came from the relationships I built with Jordan, Preston, and Nick Silas. It’s beautiful. 

Jordan, on the show, you mentioned during the first episode about your experience at Playboy and being in the minority while you were there. How does a show like this bring up some themes for you about representation and being the minority?

Jordan Emmanuel:  At the end of the day, I’m a one-of-a-kind person because I do so much and do it all simultaneously. I’ve had these unique experiences, and Playboy is one of them. In that, you get to see people’s reactions, and that’s more revealing about them and society than it is about me or their thoughts about me. I’m always going to advocate and be a pioneer for women standing up for themselves and standing their ground in what we want to do.

I am excited for people to see more of that behind-the-curtain moment than just what they’ve seen in magazines or on my Instagram. I love creating a space for the other side of it, of being a multidimensional woman with more than one thing to offer. I do have different business endeavors, and I do different things. 

What are your hopes for the success of this show?

AL: I hope we have the opportunity to share our stories and continue our journey. But also to change how we cast for shows like this, and the sense of bringing [people together]. There are a lot of interesting people in the world. And there are many beautiful people worldwide, as you can tell from our cast. Highlighting that and making sure these people who have these stories to tell and these experiences finally have a platform they can do it on.