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


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.