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Guest Editor Evelyn Lozada Talks New Book, "Basketball Wives" Finale and Love for Rihanna

It's certain that Basketball Wives Evelyn Lozada was created for this lifestyle. While many reality stars fade into the shadows of D-list fame, this feisty Latina from New York's gritty Bronx borough has expanded her TV limelight into a book deal ("Inner Circle: The Wives Association"), a spin-off show ("Ev & Chad") and one million Twitter followers. The first-time author is weeks away from releasing her Courtney Parker-assisted novel, which you can officially cop on June 12.

In the meantime, bottle-wielding Ev is calm, spending her time vacaying in Cabo, loving on fiance Chad Ochocinco and planning her much-anticipated wedding (and wedding special). As our Guest Editor for the day, she talks us through the controversial BBW season finale, why she has such a respect for strippers and her thoughts on Rihanna's wild ways. --Niki McGloster

Without giving too much away, what is the juiciest part of the book?
There’s a mistress in the book and she’s physically assaulted. I think the readers would be very surprised as to who physically assaulted her. She was a mistress of one of the players of the book. Towards the end, you’ll be like, 'Get the hell out of here,' because you're thinking it’s one person and it ends up being…well, you know.

How was the entire writing process for you? I know it stems from journals, but how did you go in and kind of write it to make it fiction?
I have an amazing co-writer, Courtney Parker, and we would have many conversations on the phone. It’s a little tough at times because you’re re-living and talking about things that happened 9, 10 years ago. Also in a weird way, it was a little therapeutic. You know, talking about it and getting excited about this book. She was very, very helpful, and she’s an amazing writer.

What is your reaction to the naysayers and haters who are wondering why you wrote a book?
I’ve learned, especially from Chad, that controversy is good. Nothing phases him and he’s like, 'Why do you care?' I’ve learned a lot of him: the more popular and more successful you become, the more haters and the more attorneys you need [laughs].

How do you develop a tough skin for that?
You can’t do this and be sensitive. For example, you know Suzie [Ketcham], she gets a lot of shit from the show. After she films the show, she doesn’t watch it or go on Twitter. She’s like, 'I don’t know how you deal with it.' I’ve accepted that this is a part of my life and apart of my world now. The more the show became popular, and I started dating Chad, and I got engaged to Chad, it’s been like chaos. I’m never going to hide and I’m always one of those people that say TV can be a gift and a curse, and at the same time it’s opened up a lot of doors for me that I never would have imagined. I can look at [the show] and say, Maybe I shouldn’t have handled it like that. Maybe I shouldn’t have thrown that bottle at Kenya, you know what I mean? If I’m blessed to be on TV for another five seasons, you won’t see Evelyn doing that. I’ve learned from that situation. Me and Tami do get a lot of heat because we are straight forward and in your face and controversial. It's not always positive, but I know we can look back and say, ‘You know what, bitch, that wasn’t cool.’

What other lessons have you learned from the show through watching yourself?
Just to probably listen. Everyone always says it on the show, 'Evelyn goes from 0-10.' And that’s how I’ve always been since I was 13. Where I grew up, most people wouldn’t say, Okay, let's have a conversation. That’s not the way things were dealt with where I grew up. You running your mouth? You talking shit? Things happen. There’s consequences for that. I’ve learned it’s not all about screaming and yelling and, 'Oh, you’re a fucking bitch.' Most of the time I don’t get my point across.

So Basketball Wives has been kind of like an anger management tool for you?
Yeah, it has. I was born and raised in the Bronx and went to public school in Manhattan. New York is a hustle and bustle type of place, you're in cab getting cursed out and everyone is so high-strung. You're always on defense mode. I love New York; I wouldn’t take anything back, but you become a little aggressive [Laughs].

How did you handle the reactions for your VIBE cover?
You know, you have those people that love you and think that everything you do is great then there are those who are like why did they put these girls on here they aren’t role models. I think that goes hand in hand with not really caring what people say. I would like to put a camera in your house for 2 months and see what I capture. People only know Evelyn from the show, they don’t know me fro outside the show, and that’s why I’m happy I was blessed with another opportunity because you get to see all of that. You get to see me with the family, Chad with the family, our kids, the issues we are having. It’s two totally different shows and two totally different things that the world will get to see when it comes to me. I wasn’t really to bothered, I kind of knew that it was going to happen, everybody has their opinion. But for me its been a good response, people love the cover and how the photos came out so that’s pretty cool.

In your last chat with Jen, a lot was said. Could you ever move forward into a space where you could at least be in the same room with her?
I think so. A lot was happening during that time. I’m one of those people, I said some things and I was just like, that was not cooI. I live by loyalty and I feel like at that point I broke the friend code. I should have never broken that code and I should have never stooped down to that level. Like, if she wants to do interviews and slick comments, it is what it is. I don’t hate her. People just get caught up in this industry; you do interviews and say certain things. I truly don’t wish her anything negative, we’ve gone through a lot together as friends from moving out, men drama, all types of stuff. It's just tough having to relive it then talk about it. You never have that time for healing. But now that the show is done and things are calming down, I’m not angry anymore about it and I don’t hate her at all. I don’t really hate anybody, I was just upset how things were handled.

Do you miss her or the friendship?
I miss her. We were friends for 10 years. I was in her wedding, so you know yeah, and your thinking you guys are going to do this show together, your BFF, and then your kind of like what happened? And we are mutual friends with a lot of people, so everything else became weird energy. It was tough.

Now, Shaunie's been taking a lot of heat too. What are your thoughts on that?
I’ve had conversations with Shaunie, and she is in a tough place because she wears all hats, she’s Executive Producer, a cast mate, friend to us...it’s just tough because you're being pulled from every angle. I can honestly say that from season 1, Shaunie has been an advocate to find a balance. We filmed a charity event for kids with cancer and it was the most amazing charity event that I’ve ever went to. Even the camera men, grown men, were crying. But it didn’t make the cut and they chose to air the part with me calling someone a fucking bitch instead. She’s an Executive Producer, but she doesn’t know what tapes are being sent to VH1; she doesn’t know everything that is going on. But I can guarantee you that it will look different and not only because of all the controversy, but because she’s been working so hard to find a balance.

You just reached over a million Twitter followers, miss! Congrats! Were you blown away that you had that many?
It’s so weird. It’s not like I’m looking at my followers everyday, but my Twitter followers update me. Me and Chad joke like, 'Yeah, when I’m at a million, I’m dropping you” and he jokes around on Twitter about it. Out of all the [reality TV] people I had the most followers; that’s pretty cool.

So, currently you're filming your spin-off show and wedding special with Chad. Are you scared of the Kim Kardashian, 72-day marriage curse?
[Laughs] No, I’m not. Me and Chad have been together for two years. I feel like if anything is going to happen, it won't be because of the show. We’ve been together two years, so I think we’ll be okay.

Now, Rihanna is one of your good friends, but from a role model standpoint, how do you view her influence to younger people?
We became cool on Twitter [laughs], and she’s cool! She lives her life and does what the fuck she wants and I love that about her. It’s tough because all of a sudden your supposed to be perfect and a role model to everyone and not live your life and I think she does what she needs to do, she’s young and having fun. Growing up I didn’t necessarily say oh my god look at Madonna I want to be just like her, I just loved her music. I feel like people put so much pressure on these celebrities and it’s like I think parents should be role models and if you don’t want your kids watching these things then don’t. Like my daughter is almost 19 and she will tell you that growing up she had parental control for the TV, because of HBO etc. In my eyes, Rihanna can do no wrong, I think she’s an amazing artist. She’s gorgeous, handles her business, and lives her life with no apologies.

Does she come to you about... let's say, the drama that’s been happening with Meek Mill, Drake and Chris Brown?
We don’t discuss personal things like that. It’s just, if I happen to be in her city or she’s in mine, we’ll hang out.

You both do love the strip clubs, though!
Yeah...[smiles] my alter ego comes out when I'm at the strip club. If me and Chad go together, I totally forget about him [Laughs]. I love the strop club.

What is your alter ego's name?
Her name is Ginger. Listen, much respect to all strippers. That is a fuckin' talent! I don't give a fuck what nobody says. To be able to go all the way up on that pole and your butt is dangling from the ceiling! [Laughs] We bond. I don't judge none of those chicks; it is what it is. I love KOD, Onyx in Atlanta, G5 in Miami, but yeah... Chad was the first one to take me to KOD, and he looks at me like, 'Are you ready to go?' [Laughs]

Lastly, are you going to go by Evelyn Ochocinco or Evelyn Johnson?
I don't know. I’m going to keep Evelyn Lozada for now because it’s a brand that I’m building. It's my own little thing I got going on. We are still on the fence of that though, so we’ll see.

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Airing on Oct. 3, the season premiere marks SNL’s return to its headquarters at Rockefeller Center since March. The long-running sketch comedy show went virtual last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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October. [email protected] @theestallion pic.twitter.com/J8KUYWngaL

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Rock, who has hosted the SNL three times, was a cast member from 1990 until 1993. After SNL, Rock joined the cast of In Living Color, and embarked on a successful career in stand-up comedy.

But he's not  the only In Living Color alum heading back to SNL this season. Jim Carrey has signed on to play former Vice President and presidential hopeful, Joe Biden, on the show.

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‘Antebellum’ Star Janelle Monáe: ‘This World Owes Black Women So Much’

For us Black folk, the fight for social justice in America continues to be a long and arduous fight. Since the day our African ancestors set foot on this land, we’ve endured the chains and whips of systemic oppression and marched arm in arm for our civil and economic rights. Along the way, we’ve witnessed the senseless killing of our Black brothers and sisters at the hands of police brutality and white supremacy.

Let’s face it. Today, 400 odd years later and in the midst of an anxiety-inducing pandemic, being Black in America is still exhausting. Our Black brothers can’t go for an afternoon jog without running into the armed, confrontational, and self-appointed neighborhood watch. Or question their arrest before being handcuffed and forced to lie face-down, while gasping for air under the pressure of a police officer’s knee on their neck. The most disheartening of all is that our Black sisters can’t rest peacefully in their beds without trigger-happy police officers raiding their homes with a fatal shower of bullets.

The gut-punch of it all? Justice for Black bodies is far and in between. And the group less likely to see any form of justice? Black women. The women who’ve carried and birthed nations. The women who’ve fearlessly aided and led historic uprisings while fighting on the front lines to spark social change. In the upsetting case of Breonna Taylor, one of the officers responsible for her death has been indicted on “three counts of wanton endangerment” for endangering the lives of those in a neighboring apartment.

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“I feel like this world owes Black women so much. At the very least, it owes us peace...I have to actively fight for my own peace,” shared the actress in a recent sit-down with VIBE correspondent Jazzie Belle. “It's tough, especially when you see your brothers and sisters, that look like you being murdered and killed, all you can really feel is rage. And when that festers in you, it's hard to shake it. It's hard for me to unwatch the videos I watched of Sandra Bland, of Trayvon Martin, of Jacob Blake, thinking about Breonna Taylor, it's difficult. So, you have to actively fight. I have to actively fight for my own peace.”

In the newly released thriller Antebellum, Monáe plays Veronica Henley, a best-selling author and outspoken sociologist. After speaking on the marginalization of Black people in America at an event in New Orleans, Veronica wakes up as Eden, an enslaved woman working on a Louisiana plantation in a Civil War era. As Veronica experiences the past life of slavery, she (Eden) finds her strength and voice to plan and lead fellow slaves to freedom. Even if she fails over and over again.

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“This film [Antebellum] is a look at what it is like for a Black woman to carry the burden of dismantling and deconstructing white supremacy every single day. We persevere through it. We are triumphant, but we shouldn't have to carry that emotional labor and that heaviness every single day.”

This same weight of responsibility can be seen in today’s oftentimes women-led social movements and calls to action in the streets of America. You can see how it’s cinematically embedded as a theme in the twisted Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz co-directed film. But there’s one thing that must take precedence during any physically and mentally demanding mission for change: rest. And those of us protesting for equality should have loved ones around to serve as a reminder of joy and lightheartedness. For self-care is an underrated superpower.

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Watch the full interview with Janelle Monáe above. Also, catch our chat with Antebellum's co-directors Bush and Renz where they talk about how one nightmare inspired the film’s premise.

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