Some may dub Evelyn Lozada the H.B.I.C. of VH1's Basketball Wives, but executive producer Shaunie O'Neal is the boss calling the shots. News broke earlier this week that O'Neal and Jumping The Broom producer Tracey Edmonds were in the nascent stages of bringing Basketball Wives to the silver screen. Of course, fans and naysayers of the dramatic reality spot sounded off, puzzled by what the Fox Searchlight film would portray. Drink-throwing? Lunch bickering? Lawsuits? None of the above, says Shaunie. VIBE spoke with the media maven about the details of the b-ball idea brought to life. --Niki McGloster and Clover Hope
VIBE: There’ve been reports about a Basketball Wives movie in the works. Can you speak on that?
Shaunie: It’s fictional. It’s a movie, so it has nothing… I see people on Twitter saying, “Oh god, you guys gon’ take that and turn it into a movie?” You don’t take a reality show and make it a movie. At least I wouldn’t. It’s not a quote, unquote “basketball wives movie.” Even though it has to do with basketball life, it’s not actually taking Basketball Wives from TV and making it a movie. And it’s not about women sitting around arguing or lunching all the time. It’s an actual story. It’s a love story. It’s an empowering story. It’s funny. It’s life. It’s similar—we’ve taken a girl who’s just going into the NBA life and experiencing things and showing the whole story. She learns from the organization. She learns from other wives. And by the end of the story, it’s empowering for women and men. It’s so nothing like the TV show at all. No comparison.
Will the main character be Black? Hollywood could use more of that.
We haven’t casted yet, but I wouldn’t call it a Black woman’s story. It’s going to be a multiracial cast. Of course, there will be Black women ’cause most of the NBA seems to be. But it is going to be multiracial.
What stage are you at with it?
It’s really early. We literally just closed the deal Monday. Now we’re just getting all the next steps ready. Our writer is finishing the script and then we’ll be ready to do some auditions. This is a first for me and Tracy has been absolutely wonderful in taking me under her wing and making me her partner for this. She’s been awesome on this step by step. ’Cause I’m like, 'Okay what happens next? And how do we do this?' She’s done this a few times; she’s a veteran, so she knows what she’s doing. I’m enjoying putting in my in the whole process.
How did the initial idea come about? Did you bring it to Tracey Edmonds?
Yeah, I brought her the concept and the idea. It was important for me to have other outlets outside of Basketball Wives to represent myself and who I really am and what I really would like to put out there. Because, again, I did reality TV and I can’t control that. I can’t control how everybody acts and what everybody sees. This, I can control [laughs]. If I come and I say, "This is what I envision, this is what I feel, this is what I see," with the help of others, we sit around and collaborate on how this vision can come alive and how we can make it entertaining and how we can make people interested. And [Tracey] understood what I was saying. She got where I was coming from. We always wanted to work together on something, be it TV, movie or whatever. We sat around and talked about this for a couple months and I was so eager to make it happen because I needed some other ways to almost redeem myself. Like, this is not what I’m about people, [laughs] so let me show you. And it’s not my only way of showing but it’s a huge start. And it’s one that I know I’m gonna be 110 percent proud of.
With the TV show and now a movie, it seems like you’ve been going into uncharted territory. Are you nervous about the unknown?
It’s so funny because on the Hollywood side, people come at me on a production side. They come at me, like, "Wow you have a successful show. It’s possibly five seasons, that’s amazing. So proud of you." It’s reality TV so they take it for what it is: You came to the show, you sold an idea and you did a great job at it and it’s successful. So it’s almost not the unknown on the Hollywood side. I feel respected in the back of my mind. I’m like, I hope that they get that I’m not that person, and I’m proving myself that I’m not that person. It’s my own conscience that gets to me more so than anybody thinking about me. I think too much. The unknown isn’t really so bad for me.