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‘WAGS’ Stars Autumn Ajirotutu And Sasha Gates Talk Dating Hierarchy And Flipping Reality TV Fame Into Fortune

VIBE dialed up Sasha and Autumn for more tea on being portrayed as a mean-girl duo and their plans to build solid brands from their reality TV buzz.

At first glance, E!’s reality TV series WAGS (Wives and Girlfriends of Sports Stars) seems almost like a threat to the feminist movement. Hour-long episodes of glammed-up ladies living a life of luxury afforded only to them as a result of being romantically linked to a man? Yeah, you’d be hard pressed not to baptize yourself in repeat spins of Beyonce’s “***Flawless” afterwards. Similar to the wives-of-such-and-such shows that came before it (looking at you, Basketball Wives), WAGS offers you a glimpse into lit yacht rides, lavish mansions and expensive shopping trips.

But for season two of the hit show, the network that brought you Kim K and nem will zero in on what these women possess besides black cards and Birkins. At least that’s what Sasha Gates, entrepreneur and wife of the San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, hopes for. “I want the world to see what I have to offer and who I am, because there’s more to me than just carrying an athlete’s name,” Gates tells VIBE of her decision to join the show. “I wanted to take a chance and see what would come from it. It’s like, is it a blessing from God or is it the devil at your door?”

Last season, the show wasn’t much more than establishing that, in this world, wives are the true gatekeepers to the sports world’s spoils. And girlfriends? Well, they better just pray they don’t get traded out of their plush seat at the table. Gates, dubbed “Queen WAG,” and fellow wife enthusiast Autumn Ajirotutu, wife of Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Seyi Ajirotutu, led the charge (unintentionally says Ajirotutu) against the single gals. “I like to screen the girlfriends,” Ajirotutu says as a way to avoid unnecessary drama. “As wives we get emotionally attached to the women, then these guys leave them and we’re stuck with the new girlfriend and the ex-girlfriend.”

After peeping the season two premiere, this go ‘round looks to be a lot more of the same: women in designer threads playing petty drama games and pandering to a divisive hierarchy. However, while the WAGS pecking order still incites many-a girlfight between the ladies with longtime rings and the rest of the castmates––former WWE Diva Barbie Blank (wife of former NHL defenseman Sheldon Souray), model Nicole WIlliams (longtime girlfriend of Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Larry English), and Natalie Halcro and Olivia Pierson, whose relationship statuses ping-pong between complicated and dating––the women still manage to put their champagne glasses down long enough to showcase their non-WAGS aspirations as models, recording artists and lifestyle bloggers.

VIBE dialed up Sasha and Autumn for more tea on being portrayed as a mean-girl duo and their plans to build solid brands from their reality TV buzz.

VIBE: Going into it, what did you think the show would be like?
Autumn: I thought it would be a safe situation. Because it’s E!, I thought that we were gonna be able to showcase a different side of what people from the sports world might see, outside of the rumors or whatnot. I wanted to go on there, show a Christian aspect as a young mom, friend and all that. Just a different light.

Do you feel that’s in line with how you're being portrayed?
Autumn: Hmmm. No. [Laughs]
Sasha: Well, we film so many scenes, how can you fit it into one episode or 12 episodes? There are things in there that portray who we are, but there are so many sides to me that there’s no way we can fit in into 12 episodes.

One thing they definitely show is the wives vs. girlfriends beef that started last season. This season, they’re really trying to pit you both against Olivia Pierson and Natalie Halcro. Why do you think this issue still has so much steam?
Autumn: I don’t know. I’m a real person. I say what I mean and mean what I say, and I’m not a person who talks about them and can’t back up what I have to say. When you know you’re in a group of women who are opinionated or some are more passive, it makes it seem like I’m more harsh. There’s just things as a wife and a mother that I would not do. Even if I was a girlfriend, I just wouldn’t do it. There’s just a difference in character and morale. At 27 years old, it’s not realistic for me to only have married friends, so I think that’s where things are misconstrued. I just can’t do what the single girls do.
Sasha: This is what I can say. Just because they call me ‘Queen WAG’ doesn’t mean I think I’m above anyone. I started from the bottom on my own. My friends and family are from all walks of life, and I don’t judge anyone. I don’t care about money or status. The people I keep close, we all share certain things in common––hardworking, loyal, independent, strong and classy.

It’s getting ugly a bit on the show, though. Are things better between you girls now IRL?
Autumn: Throughout the season, you’ll see the progression, and I just want to leave it where we ended off. I don’t even watch the season. It just helps me stay neutral.
Sasha: Things get misconstrued, but at the end of the day, we all get along and we figure things out. We all share [this lifestyle] in common.

The narrative, even with the new girl, seems like the black girls are the villains.
Autumn: We’re really not. We’re sweet girls. I mean, we don’t play now… [Laughs]

Recently, Ayesha Curry’s Game 6 tweets stirred up a lot of controversy regarding how wives should act publicly in regards to their man’s career. How would you have handled a situation like that?
Autumn: I definitely wouldn’t say anything. My husband is a great, team guy and kinda reminds me of Steph [Curry] in a way. When he got ejected, I couldn’t say anything. In general, I kinda wait it out. If I’m still feeling [upset] the next day, I’ll say it. But if I don’t, then I won’t. Your feelings can change in a couple hours. People always take what you say out of context or they’re gonna judge you for what you say, so let [the men] play. Talk about it at home. For me to talk about it on a public platform for them to blast on ESPN is not my thing.

Now, plenty of reality TV stars have managed to flip their TV fame into a business or brand outside of their man’s careers. Is that your goal?
Autumn: I’ve always had this passion for baking and cooking, so I’m creating a food and lifestyle blog. I have healthy recipes, workouts, toddler temptations...It’s for everybody. I want to get our younger generations into food and home. You know, some of those old school values. Women can have a place they can come if they need a 30-minute meal or they’re having a girls’ night. I want to help moms, especially moms of multiples, to find good baby products, because when I had twins I couldn’t find anything. So, I want to help make their journey easier through motherhood.
Sasha: Well, I released my first single last year called “Oh Yeah My Hitta,” and the second single is called “Go Hard.” [My music] is kinda pop-y, kinda R&B, kinda rock. I’ll be performing with my band at least once a month, so my fans can see and hear my music live. I’ve been doing music since I was in high school. It’s a creative outlet for me, and I would do it even if I couldn’t sing. People don’t always get to see that side of me, but I love to perform and turn up.

What do you want audiences to learn about you this season that they may not already know?
Sasha: I hope they see that there’s more to me than the stereotype. I’m not a wife who kicks her feet up all day, sips champagne and goes shopping. We are the women that stand behind our great men because we’re great too. We do have a lot to offer, and I’m talented. I’m down to earth, and I don’t think I’m better than anybody.
Autumn: I would like them to know that I’m more than just somebody’s wife. I’m educated. At the end of the day, I’m a mother of two girls that I want to be proud of me. We’re more than just wives and a pretty face behind an athlete. Hopefully, I can shift the dynamic so they can see more of my passion and see what I love to do. I’m a girl’s girl. I ride hard for the people I love. It may be a tough love, but I appreciate when people are real with me and I only try to give it back in return.

Tune into WAGS on E! every Sunday at 10/9c.

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‘American Soul’ Episode 8 Recap: The Crossroads

Tessa is back, and not only do we finally get the tea on her backstory, but it’s also a full tea party.

Still focused on reclaiming her dance career before she’s too old, Tessa prepares for an audition and comes face to face with her former best friend and former fiancé—the very people who drove her away from dance years ago. We learn that she didn’t just lose her dance career, she lost an entire life—including a baby. And then, she met Patrick. Over the course of the episode, Tessa has long overdue conversations with Prescott, her former fiancé, and Evelyn (Nikeva Stapleton), her former friend. Even though Evelyn played Tessa back in the day, she drops some gems and asks her if she’s really moving forward, or trying to hold on to what was. Tessa ponders the question and, in response, delivers a final audition routine she created during her old dance life in Germany, updated with moves influenced by the Soul Train Gang—a reflection of her new life. After finally having an honest, vulnerable conversation with Patrick, it seems Tessa is ready to genuinely move forward, whatever that may mean.

JT’s brothers in the Continuous Revolution in Progress offer him a chance to “prove (his) worth,” after Detective Lorraine set him up to look like a snitch (which we still don’t understand). Of course, that means participating in another illegal endeavor. We really don’t like Reggie, nor can we understand why JT feels such a staunch loyalty to him, but peer pressure—and thinly veiled threats—are real.

When JT gets “home,” he faces another course-altering decision. After finding a random street character holding his little sister while his mom is in a mid-drug nod, JT finally makes the difficult call to have her committed. We’d be relieved and excited about what this means for him and his little sister if he hadn’t just become more deeply entangled with Reggie and the CRIPS.

The Clarke siblings are ready to assert their independence. Kendall is taking his John Denver albums and moving out (with Flo? Already?); Simone is bucking up to her mom about JT (Simone, your mama might be right on this one); and Encore gets a surprise half-off deal at the studio to record their demo. We owe JT—who we realize is not a real person—an apology for assuming he was going to lose the studio money. He had it in his sock. Smart man. But holding the money might be the only role JT plays in Encore’s recording. While the Clarke siblings are stanning over Lionel Richie and getting ready to go in the booth, JT is at the hospital with his mom. We have a feeling his path will only take him further away from both Kendall and Simone for the last two episodes of the season.

Brianne comes face-to-face with the old life and dream she buried out of necessity for the life she chose to have with Joseph. At the beginning of the season, Joseph mentioned Brianne’s former singing career to Simone, and Simone was shocked even as her mother deflected. But she clearly never let it go—seeing a reminder of her singing days sends Brianne into a rage. Not because something terrible happened (that we know of, yet), but because she’s still so hurt over sacrificing such a big piece of herself. When Nate asks her if she wants to cut the visit to San Diego and her brother’s nightclub short, she says she needs to do something first. Is Brianne going to let the music back in?

Don already made one choice: Soul Train over his family. Now, he faces a fight for the show to survive against Dick Clark’s Soul Show, which airs on ABC, one of Don’s essential syndication partners. The next decision is whether to trust the protest and boycott methods suggested by his friend Conrad Johnson (Todd Anthony Manaigo) or take a more ruthless route with Gerald. Frustrated when the civil course doesn’t seem to be working quickly enough, Don lets Gerald off the leash to execute an alternate plan. But when he realizes Gerald’s tactic—placing plants at the Soul Show protest to start a fight—Don’s bothered. Especially when Conrad’s method ends up yielding results. Don will always be in conflict because he’s rarely comfortable with his decisions. When he operates in the straight and narrow, he feels like he’s being taken advantage of; when he plays dirty, he worries about his public image. When Don tries to detach himself from Gerald’s antics, Gerald checks him. He’s already peeped Don’s struggle between being the respectable negro and being a street dude when the situation requires. “It ain’t like you didn’t know, you just chose not to.”

Don’s hot-and-heavy relationship with Ilsa has fizzled out, Tessa’s quit, Brooks doesn’t see the big deal about a competitive show, and Gerald’s idea of being supportive is sketchy at best, highly illegal at worst. Don has presumably slayed the Hollywood dragons that tried to take him down and should feel victorious. Soul Train is a hit, is officially greenlit for a second season, and is still his. But Don’s realizing he doesn’t have true, close allies around him (Clarence Avant once said of Cornelius in real life that you could fit all his friends in a phone booth, and still have room). Delores is not only ignoring his phone calls—more phone calls than we’ve seen him make the entire season—she’s busy with plans that involve separate bank accounts. Don calls his wife one more time to plead for their marriage on the brand new answering machine he bought her. As he hangs up and the episode closes, he collapses—an early glimpse of the brain trauma that plagued him for the remainder of this life.

What the episode got right: Conrad “CJ” Johnson represents young Jesse Jackson, who partnered with the “Godfather of Black Music,” Clarence Avant, in successfully pressuring ABC to take Clark’s Soul Unlimited off the air.

What we could have done without: The scene with Gladys and Don in the lounge. While it was great to see Kelly Rowland reprise her role as Gladys Knight, and we recognize that she’s supposed to serve as some kind of conscious/guide/good luck charm/something for Don, that conversation didn’t move the plot forward in any real way.

What we absolutely don’t believe: That a black mother in the 1970s—the old school black mama prototype—let somebody call her daughter an “uppity b**ch,” then let the same daughter get in her face and slam doors in her house without some hands flying, somebody getting cursed out, or that door coming off the hinges.

What we don’t understand: The relationship between Brianne and Private Nate Barker. He’s fine and all, but what’s his purpose? Maybe there’s more to come in the next episodes.

We’re excited to learn more about Brianne Clarke in the next episode; she’s been an underutilized character so far. There’s a lot to cover, still, in the remaining two shows of the season: Is Simone going to pursue a career in NY? Is JT going to get his foolish self arrested or worse? Is Kendall going to end up with another baby he can’t support? (We feel like Flo has more sense than that, thankfully). Is Brianne going to get it poppin’ with Nate? Is Don going to somehow end up on Gerald’s bad side? We do know Don is getting a divorce, we just don’t know when. Let’s see what happens next.

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'Boomerang' Episode 7 Recap: Family Matters And Pride

Bryson and Simone are a thing, like for real for real. They can’t keep their hands (or tongues) off of one another. As the two of them get steamy in the jacuzzi, a sexually riled up Simone tells her new beau that she wants to treat his face like a bean bag. They are in it, y’all. There’s just one problem — they may be half-brother and sister (insert vomit emoji here). The excitement of finally landing the girl of his dreams is shut down when he reveals that his mother, Jacqueline, informed him that Marcus Graham may be his papa. (Wait. Does that mean Marcus cheated on Angela back in the day? Regardless, what a way to ruin a mood.)

As they wait for the DNA test results, Simone and Bryson still try to be business as usual, you know, chillin’ like they used to. Speaking of business, Bryson is all that. Ari may be his boy and all, but when it comes to directing Tia’s music video, Bryson wants an Italian dude to shoot it instead. He just doesn’t believe Ari can execute. All great directors have vision and through Bryson’s eyes, Ari has none. Simone can’t help but agree. It’s obvious that Tia and her bae are not at all pleased with the video production of her single. Bro gotsta go. Tia has never been one to hold back and in a fit of frustration, she does what Simone couldn’t verbalize; she fires Ari.

Like the “big bad boss” he is, Bryson harshly tells Ari that not only will he basically fail at being a producer, but people will notice that he doesn’t belong here. Hold up. Are we sure Bryson and Ari are friends? Tough love is understandable but to completely obliterate the dreams of someone you’ve been rocking with? That’s foul. Unlike Ari, Bryson knows that he was brought up with the keys and basically helped himself to whatever role he wanted in the industry, a luxury he can afford to extend. Why not help your friend out now even with a little guidance knowing his career aspirations?

Bryson may be able to but Simone is not willing to give up on Ari just yet. She lets Ari collaborate Bryson’s pick, Shayan, who is also seemingly having a hard time capturing dope shots. A conversation with Simone about perfecting his craft leaves Ari somewhat disappointed but open to the constructive criticism.

While enjoying the Atlanta Black Pride festivities, an old filing recognizes Ari and waves him down. In catching up, the discussion quickly takes a turn to sexual orientation labels with a judgemental tone and Ari is not having it. Sure, while he was with her, he liked women but sometimes he’d rather be with a man. “Bisexual,” “Gay,” call it whatever, he just likes who he likes, refuses to be put in a box, and there’s nothing wrong with that. What is not about to happen is him being judged by a woman with five kids and three baby favas. Yikes.

That frustration instantly births inspiration. Instead of dryly shooting Tia performing with Pride weekend just happening around her, Ari points out how the world needs to see all black people not caring about what anyone has to say about them, especially when the world includes women rocking $12 jewelry. Sashayers, milly-rockers, and twerkers galore, the video shines on the culture, highlighting Kings and Queens of all shades, ages, genders, and sexualities. It’s a good time. Even Bryson can give up his props and that lead director credit to Ari. You see, Bryson? You gotta have a little faith like David always has.

Speaking of our fave pastor, unlike many Baptist churches, it’s amazing to see that David embraces and participates in the Atlanta Black Pride weekend. With the help of Crystal, David is preaching a message of loving who you are and loving others. His sermon last week no doubt spoke to the soul but if you recall, Crystal did notice that a lovely lady attended the service moreso for David and less so for Jesus. That obviously triggered something. Crystal and David may not have been able to work out their marriage but the attraction is absolutely still there. Could it be one-sided though?

You didn’t think we forgot about Bryson and Simone, did you? It should be noted that for his entire life, all Bryson ever wanted was to be like Marcus Graham, but not like this. David is right: be careful what you pray for. No matter the outcome of the paternity test, Simone and Bryson will undoubtedly be in one another’s life (maybe less like Whitley and Dwayne and more like Denise and Theo).

Well, folks, the results are in (insert Maury voice). In the case of Bryson J. Broyer, Marcus, you are NOT the father! But, you may still have some ‘splaining to do. Now that they are officially not related, Simone can finally go ahead and have that seat. We know, sis has been tired all day. Ow!

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Kevin Hart Debuts Trailer For Netflix Comedy Special 'Irresponsible'

Kevin Hart's latest comedy special, Kevin Hart: Irresponsible, is set to stream on Netflix for all to see. The one-hour stand-up, which was filmed before 15,000 people at the O2 Arena in London, England, will be Hart's fifth comedy special to hit the streaming site.

Piggybacking off of the recent scandals and mayhem, this special will focus on the 39-year-old's friends, family, travel, and a year full of antics that made him "irresponsible."

April 2nd people.....MARK YOUR CALENDARS DAMN IT!!!!! Let’s gooooooooo #ComedicRockStarShit #Irresponsible #Netflix

A post shared by Kevin Hart (@kevinhart4real) on Mar 21, 2019 at 7:38am PDT

The stand-up's taping derives from his most recent tour through North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia which kicked off in March 2018, according to Rolling Stone. The special will be available on Netflix on April 2.

The last time Hart was a trending topic was for past tweets that were deemed homophobic and resulted in him canceling his hosting position at the Oscars. Maybe his content will include this unfortunate situation.

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