Sharon Carpenter isn’t a stranger to controversy. As a reporter for Global Grind and former contributing correspondent for BBC World News America, being at the epicenter of debates is what primed her to become an award-winning broadcast journalist.
But these days the British beauty is at the helm of a different type of storm—one that involves her personal life, and she’s all for it. Sharon is co-creator of VH1’s The Gossip Game and is one of seven media personalities on the show (including Angela Yee, K. Foxx, Kim Osorio, Jas Fly, Ms. Drama and Vivian Billings) covering the fast-paced, competitive urban entertainment beat in New York City.
Vixen caught up with the New York resident to discuss drama (yup, this includes Ms. Drama) on the reality show and why she’s positioning herself to be the next female Ryan Seacrest.
VIBE Vixen: What was your exact role in developing The Gossip Game?
Sharon Carpenter: Tone Boots and I came up with the concept for The Gossip Game, discussed a number of potential cast members, and then pitched it to VH1. The VH1 execs were all for the idea and brought on Magilla Entertainment, and of course Mona Scott-Young, to help develop it along with Tone’s company District Media. Meanwhile, I was asked several times to consider coming on as a castmember. After much thought I decided that it could be a great opportunity, particularly when there is a demand from audiences to know more about the lives of all types of public figures, including journalists and hosts. I realized I probably need to be a little bit more open about myself.
In dealing with reality TV, there’s a certain amount of drama that comes with it, how did you plan to deal with the drama? And did you expect there to be any?
Conflict is what makes stories and shows interesting. Even when you’re doing a news story, there is usually some type of conflict within the story that you are addressing or exposing and that often times what makes it interesting. But, there’s a certain amount of drama in reality. We all face drama in our own lives everyday and now you’re actually going to see that on camera.
It seems that you’re a bit under the radar, like you’re not as drama-filled. Is that your intention?
I’m someone who doesn’t like to cause a scene. I’m also someone who will confront a person if I feel like they’ve done something inappropriate, or they’ve done something wrong. I’m not afraid of confrontation, but I don’t like to cause scenes in public. When you’re in a professional environment and you’re around you’re peers and you’re in the middle of a scene it’s definitely not a good look.
VV: What’s your opinion on the rivalry between K. Foxx and Angela Yee?
SC: Well, I think you have two competing radio stations. Angela’s show is number 1 in the ratings as far as New York urban radio shows, breakfast shows, so of course there’s going to be a certain amount of tension there. From what I understand and what I’ve heard, Hot 97 has a policy that they don’t like their personalities to even mention the name Power 105 or really hang out with their competition and I think that takes the rivalry to another level. I don’t understand why it has to be that serious. The ratings speak for themselves. At the end of the day Angela’s show is number one in the ratings and that’s something that you can’t deny.
Is Angela your favorite girlfriend on the show?
Angela is a good friend of mine. I’ve known her for a couple of years, we both lived in Brooklyn and we spend a lot of time hanging out having brunches, so I definitely consider her a good friend. Kim [Osorio] is also a good friend of mine. I’ve known her for a few years. We both worked at BET together and she’s someone I definitely respect. The two of them are probably my closest friends and Viv [Billings] is someone I’ve gotten to know better through the show.
Who is your least favorite cast-member? Is there Someone you don’t necessarily get along with?
(Laughs) Yes, I think that might’ve been clear from the first show. It’s Ms. Drama! I think she has a problem getting along with everybody and it’s a little sad. She’s kind of delusional she doesn’t realize her role in all of this. She seems to question everybody else all the time. Stay tuned for more craziness from Ms. Drama.
Let’s talk a little bit about your love life. Who are you currently dating?
I am dating somebody who’s actually an ex-boyfriend who is back in my life. He’s really been a part of my life for quite a few years, but we dated three years ago and broke up. But now he’s back in my life again. He’s not a celebrity, he’s an entrepreneur, he’s a regular guy and he’s actually somebody who I’ve known ever since I came to New York. You’ll find out more about him in the show.
Are there any challenges you’ve encountered while dating outside the industry?
As a woman in this industry, it is hard finding a man who actually understands this industry and is secure enough in himself to not let that get in the way of your relationship. I have dated guys who have definitely been very threatened 1) by the fact that my career is very, very important to me and 2) because of the status of the men I’m around. The fact that I conduct interviews with celebrities that I’m around very high profile executives on a daily basis can be very overwhelming for guys. I try to make a man feel comfortable, but this industry is about bonding with people and networking.
But that doesn’t intimidate your new man?
I wouldn’t say that. I would say he’s been intimidated like other men have. We’ve experienced some issues and you’ll see that played out in the show.
What do you want viewers to walk away with after watching The Gossip Game?
I want people to understand the show is a real perspective of what it takes to find success in this industry and the trials and tribulations that we go through as women. I also want women to realize that you may dream of being in the entertainment or hip-hop industries as a video vixen or married to a celebrity, but you can actually be in this industry and hold a power position. If you use your brain you can work hard and establish yourself as an influencer in this man’s world.
I think we’re setting a new precedent for reality shows because most of the time these shows are focused on wives or baby mamas or girlfriends. It’s great to see women who are independent, successful, driven and ambitious because it’s something we haven’t seen that much of.
Who are your role models?
My mom is one of my role models. She’s been someone who’s supported me, always encouraged my sister and I to find our own success and to be independent. She is a doctor and used to teach at Harvard [University]. She’s someone who is very classy, very sophisticated, very smart and very successful and a loving mother and wife at the same time. You can have a career, you can be a wonderful wife and a wonderful mother and she’s proved that.
I also like the way Oprah conducts interviews, she has a very non-intimidating approach. I also love Anderson Cooper, especially when he covers disasters. Ryan Seacrest is another one I respect and I would actually like to one day be kind of a female Ryan Seacrest.