Thicker Than Water: The Tankards Thicker Than Water: The Tankards

Vixen Chat: Thicker Than Water's Ben and Jewel Tankard Talk Family Business and Show Backlash

What do Rev Run, Kimora and Russell and Brangelina have in common? Blended families, of course. It seems Hollywood's latest trend hits close to home as new couples come together and bring their respective kids along for the ride. Bravo—no stranger to successful reality TV—took notice quickly and enlisted The Tankards for a new show all about family and the good life.

Thicker Than Water has ruffled more than a few feathers since its November debut. Ben and Jewel, the twosome that helm Bravo's "Black Brady Brunch" are both pastors and entrepreneurs whose possessions and blinged out lifestyle garner more attention than their actual work. Today, the two are out to prove that there's more to their show than model airplanes and expensive jewelry.

Flip the page to see what they have to say about the meaning of "millionaire," watching other reality shows, and of course, the finer things in life.

Photo Credits: NBCU Bank via Getty Images

Ben and Jewel Tankard of Bravo's 'Thicker Than Water'

What's the reaction been to the show so far?

Jewel: It’s been controversial. People either really love it or it makes them mad.

Ben: But, they don’t want to turn it off [laughs].

What brought you to reality TV?

Ben: I’ve been working as a recording artist in the gospel jazz field. I’ve got 15 gold albums, so my name has been floating around Hollywood for some time. I’m also a motivational speaker for the NBA, being a former player. My music is published through NBC Universal. One thing led to another; my daughter hooked us up with a production company that had already done some things for Bravo and they saw some clips of us goofing off on Youtube and they said, “that’s a family we’d like to profile,” because we’ve been looking for a black family to be the next kind of Cosby thing anyway. So, they gave us a trial and screen test and here we are.

Jewel: I really feel like I’ve always been called to do something on TV. When I was younger, I went to theater school and did plays, so I’ve always been attracted to media. Then when we got married and tried blending families together, I felt like we had such a story to tell. There are so many different dynamics and things we went through as parents; things that we got right, things that we got wrong; but, at the end of the day, we have a very close and loving family and I think that can speak volumes. We do a lot of family meetings because we knew if we did reality TV, our family was going to stay a family.

Did you have any reservations going into it?

Ben: I did because as a recording artist and motivational speaker, that’s what’s paid for our lifestyle. But, on weekends, I volunteer as a pastor. We don’t get paid to be pastors. We started the church in our living room. I was afraid that people would see this big mansion and they’d get clips of us from the church and put two and two together wrong and say, “oh, here’s another preacher living off the backs of other people.”

Who's most comfortable in front of the camera?

Ben: Brooklyn is most comfortable. Our oldest son that doesn’t live in the home—I think he’s the one that would have to get used to it.

Are you fans of reality TV?

Ben: Oh, yes. Million Dollar Listing for me.

Jewel: I actually like Duck Dynasty. I like the wholesomeness of the family. I like the fact that they’re a family in business together and love Jesus.

Ben: We used to watch Run’s House and say, “We could do that, couldn’t we?” [laughs].

Jewel: You know what I love about Run is his wife. She was so comfortable in her skin. She wasn’t trying to be nothing but who she was.

Ben1

Will we get to see the ins and outs of how you make your money?

Jewel: I’m a fourth generation entrepreneur. Before I met Ben, I experienced a tremendous amount of success on my own in my hometown Detroit. My parents were in the record business and were some of the first African Americans to own record stores back then. Now I have a financial service business where I help people make sure their business portfolios are in tact. And I have a millionaire’s book club and that helps African American woman become empowered. African American women statistically are on the bottom of the totem pole financially- they hurt the most during retirement specifically.

Ben: You get that word quite a lot in our show: millionaire. The reason we say that is because it’s almost like telling your kids, “I want you to get straight A’s.” You know he’s not going to get straight A’s, but the B’s and C’s they achieve going after the A is fine with you. If you say a C is alright, they’ll fall on an F. So, we look at it like shoot for the sky.

What is your response to naysayers who don't like the show?

Jewel: I’m an entrepreneur. Before we started the church, we lived very well and anyone that knows us knows that we grind up. And Ben has 25 years of music, so don’t just look at the ministry. Look at the fact that we’re entrepreneurs and some of the biggest givers in our church. And we’re not talking about a mega church. There’s no way we could live off the church. I think we need to go back to judging people based on who they are and not what they have. To me, it’s the same thing as racial prejudice. Judge the man on their heart.

Ben: If Magic Johnson opened a church in his home, no one would expect him to give his houses and cars away just because he’s a pastor.

Jewel: And it’s TV, so don’t take it too literal. We gotta  cut, edit and have some fun with it. This is not a Christian show. You have Christians on a show.

You're obviously experts on living an extravagant lifestyle. What is one thing every man and woman should invest in?

Ben: Every man needs a man cave, especially if you have a wife and daughters [laughs]. Every man needs a place to escape where there’s no words; just chicken wings and some sports.

Jewel: For girls, I think it’s important just to get your nails and feet done. I think that keeping yourself well groomed is important because it makes us feel feminine, pretty and confident. It really connects to our self esteem. We may not be able to go buy this and buy that, but at least I can keep my physical image in tact.

Why should we watch Thicker Than Water?

Ben: I believe that I have the world’s most exciting family. There’s bound to be some Christian calamities, but we will have some heavenly conclusions.

Jewel: We want people to dream again. African Americans particularly- we have had so much struggle in our lives. Sometimes when they happens, you’re not dreaming like you used to. And we also want people to fight for the family again. You’re going to see some conflicts, but you don’t have to respond by actin’ a fool.

Thicker Than Water airs Sundays at 9pm EST on Bravo.

From the Web

More on Vibe

VIBE Vixen/ Jessica Xie

VIBE Vixen's Boss Talk Podcast: Meet Peppermint, The Boss Using Her Gifts For Good

VIBE Vixen's Boss Talk podcast amplifies the voices of women and she/her-identifying individuals in their respective industries as they discuss their journeys toward becoming the bosses we know today. From their demeanor and confidence and persevering through life’s pitfalls to make a name for themselves in their own way, being a boss is much more than 'just running sh*t.'

Miss Peppermint started as a staple in the New York nightlife scene, and after appearing as a contestant on the ninth season of RuPaul's Drag Race, she’s continued to make a name for herself.

Outside of the show, she's traveled the world and is hoping to release her third album, which she hints will be influenced by the '90s, R&B, and neo-soul. She's also planning on re-releasing her debut album, Hardcore Glamour, for its 10-year anniversary.

"I'll be doing a lot in New York this year for World Pride," she explains to Boss Talk's host, J'na Jefferson. Pride takes place throughout June. "The last album I dropped was 2017... I'm excited about that, I'm writing it now. It's just poems, but I'm excited."

Peppermint, who was the first openly transgender contestant on the Emmy Award-winning show, was also the first transgender woman to originate a principal role on Broadway for her role as Pythio in Head Over Heels. 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Head Over Heels (@hohmusical) on Jan 31, 2019 at 12:26pm PST

"On paper, it shouldn't make sense... it's hard to explain what it is," she says of the musical, which combined a loose adaptation of 16th-century piece The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia with the music of the new wave group, The Go-Go's. It closed in late-2018.

"The better way to explain it now that it's over and closed is 'a revolutionary show about dismantling the patriarchy...'" she says about Head Over Heels. "I knew that they wanted to cast a trans actor... I wanted to put as much as I could into it, and try to do our non-binary siblings well and proud... [the show] became something I really believed in."

Peppermint continues to share her love of performing all over the world and is also an activist, who aims to promote the importance of LGBTQIA representation and advancement. She has worked and supported organizations such as The Point Foundation, which aims to help LGBTQIA students attend college. 

"People are just starting to catch on that having queer voices is essential and inevitable," she says of further representation of LGBTQIA individuals in media and entertainment. She praises Pose creator Ryan Murphy for showcasing trans people of color both in front of the camera and behind-the-scenes.

"Giving [trans people] the power to speak for themselves, rather than slapping the community with stereotypes or archetypes... we're past that," she continues. "We're not in the phase where they're feeling comfortable to be who they are, but I think we're getting close."

Listen to the full episode below.

Continue Reading
Getty Images

Kush & Splendor: 5 CBD Beauty Products That’ll Take Your Self-Care Routine From 0 To 100

Lotions, creams, and salves—oh my! With cannabidiol (CBD) popping up in just about every product you can imagine, the cannabis-infused beauty industry is clearly on the come-up. In fact, analysts predict that the “wellness” movement—as well as the legalization of Mary Jane across the world—will help rake in $25 billion globally in the next 10 years, according to Business Insider. That’s 15 percent of the $167 billion skincare market.

And what better way to up the ante on one’s wellness routine than with all-natural CBD? Just ask Dr. Lana Butner, naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist at NYC’s Modrn Sanctuary, who incorporates CBD in her treatments.

“CBD is a fantastic addition to acupuncture sessions for both its relaxation and anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving effects,” Butner shares with Vixen. “The calming effects of CBD allows for patients to deeply relax into the treatment and really tap into the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest, digestion and muscle repair/regeneration.”

She adds that CBD’s pain-relieving effects are “far-reaching,” from muscular and joint pains to migraines and arthritis—and even IBS and indigestion.

The magic lies in CBD’s ability to impact endocannabinoid receptor activity in our bodies. Without getting too wordy, our bodies come equipped with a system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is the HBIC over our sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response. Also known as cannabidiol, CBD teams up with this system to help reduce inflammation and interact with neurotransmitters. According to Healthline, CBD has also been scientifically shown to impact the brain’s receptors for serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating our mood and social behavior.

All that said, it’s important to note that not all CBD products are created equal. Many brands cashing in on the green beauty wave use hemp seed oil, sometimes referred to as cannabis sativa seed oil, in place of CBD... which doesn’t make them any less great! Hemp seed oil is actually high in antioxidants, amino acids, and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids—all of which are thebomb.com for your skin.

“It’s generally viewed as a superfood and is great for adding nutritional value to your diet,” Ashley Lewis, co-founder of Fleur Marché, told Well and Good last month. “In terms of skin care, it’s known as a powerful moisturizer and skin softener that doesn’t clog pores or contribute to oily skin.”

However, when companies start marketing CBD and hemp oil as one-in-the-same, that’s when things get a bit tricky.

“The biggest issue is that hemp seed oil and CBD are two totally different compounds that come from different parts of the hemp plant, have different makeups, and different benefits,” Lewis added. “Marketing them as the same thing just isn’t accurate and does a disservice to consumers who are expecting certain benefits that they won’t get from hemp seed oil and who are often paying more for what they think is CBD.”

So if you’re looking to benefit from the perks specifically attributed to CBD, make sure you’re reading labels before buying, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Hell, ask for a product’s test results, while you’re at it. It never hurts to be sure.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, are you ready to see what all the hype is about? For this 4/20, we rounded up a few CBD (and hemp!)-infused products to help give your self-care routine a bit of a boost. Looks like your holiday just got that much kushier. You’re welcome!

Note: Data and regulations surrounding CBD and its use are still in development. That said, please don’t take anything written in this post as medical or legal advice, and definitely double check the laws in your state. Also, please do your body a favor and hit up your doctor before trying any new supplements. We’re just tryna look out for you. Okay? Okay. Read on.

Continue Reading
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Vivica A. Fox Explains Past Hesitance Behind 'Two Can Play That Game' Script

In a new interview with Essence, actress Vivica A. Fox discussed how she initially turned down her role in Two Can Play That Game based on the script. The established entertainer said it's her mission to ensure that black people are positively portrayed onscreen, and noticed the aforementioned film's prose didn't live up to those standards.

"I think the reason why—no I know the reason why—I've been doing this for such a long time is that I fight," Fox said. "When we did Two Can Play That Game, I fought for the way we talked, walked, the way we loved each other." The Set It Off actress continued to state that she consistently declined Two Can Play That Game before signing on to play the lead role. "Because the script, when I first got it, I turned it down three times because it just wasn't a good representation of African-Americans, so I fought them on everything," she noted. "I want to make sure that the images of African-Americans are as positive and as true as they can possibly be."

In 2001, the romantic comedy debuted to fanfare, boasting an all-star cast of Morris Chestnut, Mo'Nique, Anthony Anderson, Bobby Brown, Gabrielle Union, Wendy Raquel Robinson, and more. Directed by Mark Brown (Barbershop, Iverson, How To Be A Player), Fox plays a career driven person named Shante Smith who navigates a curveball when her boyfriend Keith Fenton (Chestnut) cheats on her with a co-worker.

After its release, Two Can Play That Game raked in over $22 million at the box office.

Continue Reading

Top Stories