Who would’ve thought that The Style Network would have the most positive reality shows on television? Perhaps ‘most’ is a strong adjective but I certainly enjoy their line up that excludes the hair pulling, drink throwing, name calling,
face scratching, drive by-ing, and overall negativity of typical reality programs that star women. I think we can all appreciate the network’s nonviolent shows like Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane, Tia & Tamera, and now, Empire Girls: Julissa &Adrienne.
I am really digging Empire Girls. Julissa Bermudez is an actress and was a VJ on BET’s 106 & Park back in 2005 to 2007. She’s also hosted a ton of those Jersey Shore Reunion-esque shows on MTV and hopes to have her own talk show one day and reach the pinnacle of mogul-dom like Tyra Banks. Adrienne Bailon is a former member of 3LW (remember them?!) and The Cheetah Girls, but is now known more for being the ex-girlfriend of Rob Kardashian— you can see how that can be frustrating. She just signed a deal with Neyo’s record company Compound and is working to become the next Jennifer Lopez. These gals are crazy ambitious not to mention gorgeous and fashionable.
Besides the difference in fame between the people in their circles and yours, whether you’re in the Concrete Jungle or Podunk Town USA, I think plenty of young women can identify with these two. Lots of women have had to fight to be acknowledged for their legitimate talents and accomplishments because they were overshadowed by a man (Adrienne). I’d say even more are trying to achieve their dreams and sometimes have to make tough decisions like living at home (which Julissa is doing at 28 years old).
In the first episode I really took to Julissa’s conflict which arose from a conversation with her agent. His main contention was basically that, with her strong Dominican accent “she will not appeal to Middle America moms.” This was confirmed when she went on an audition and was asked again to tone it down. Uhh. I understand if her accent hindered her from being understood, but as a veteran television personality, she speaks clearly and coherently.
I think that means the same thing but whatever. After hearing this, my sister Jessica and I looked at each other incredulously. It’s not that we were surprised with a person of color being told to whitewash a fundamental part of herself. But it’s still crazy to see.
“Would you do that?” Jessica asked me after Julissa joked about having to change the pronunciation of her name from Joo-Lee-Sah to Juh-Liss-Uh to appease the mothers of Middle Earth America. I mean, my name is Spanish but I never really pronounced it as ¡Marrrrrritza! so I don’t really think about that. I do remember hearing this one Haitian girl in middle school absurdly pronouncing her classic last name of Jacques as “Jack-Wez” (which I suppose I can see where she’s coming from) so she could distance herself from her culture and maybe have a more “pleasing”, non-Haitian sounding name. I still make jokes about that epic fail today but it is really unfortunate that XYZ-Americans feel the need to do this.
Even a few people in the Twitterverse had something to say, encouraging Julissa to keep her accent. Fellow Latina and 106 & Park VJ Rocsi Diaz chimed in too:
Either way, Joo-Lee-Sah said something amazing: Half of America is going to sound like me soon so get used to it.
So what say you? If, on your path to living a glamorously marvelous life, you were asked to change the way you speak to get to where you want to be… would you?
You can catch Empire Girls on Sundays at 9:00PM EST on The Style Network. We’ll be live-tweeting @glamlifeblog so watch with us!