Chanita Foster is leggy, loud and not afraid to tell people where to go. But she also has a heart and ambition as big as her 6’5,” 300-plus-pound offensive lineman husband, George Foster. Mrs. Foster was first introduced to America on VH1’s Football Wives but says the 30-minute show doesn’t quite capture every facet of her life. In addition to entrepreneurial and humanitarian endeavors, Foster also finds time to lobby at Congress for football player’s rights. Anyone who has been following the show knows that footballers have it rougher financially and when it comes to insurance, than their NBA, MLB and NHL counterparts and the wives want that changed. The self-proclaimed “Mouth of the South” opened up to VIBE about drama on the show, people’s misconceptions about the average NFL player’s lifestyle and dealing with public ridicule. ⎯Starrene Rhett
VIBE: How’d you get involved with Football Wives?
Chanita Foster: I was approached through Shed Media when they began doing the process of Basketball Wives. I had more relationships with a lot of the basketball wives and actual players. I had worked in sports management for 11 years on the basketball side so I was more known on the basketball end instead of football so when they started casting for basketball wives, a lot of the football wives were like, “Oh my God, if they ever do a Football Wives you gotta find Chanita Foster, she’s hilarious,” and then the rest is history.
You didn’t have any qualms about reality TV, especially given the drama and criticism that Basketball Wives got?
Basketball Wives hadn’t aired yet when we were actually going through the process to begin preparing for Football Wives so I didn’t know what to expect. I think me and my husband went into it knowing that if we let the minority represent the majority then that would be the opinion that people formed and I’m speaking more so off of other shows, meaning there would be other shows and they would be like this is how the lifestyle is or with just the outer world of the media in general, we knew that the football world was being represented in the wrong light because we don’t make as much money as people think so we felt like it was our opportunity to tell our story our way.
How has your perception changed since you went through the experience?
I think my perception changed from the aspect of when you do a show you never know what the outcome is gonna look like as far as the editing or how the storylines are gonna play out. I really stayed true to myself knowing that whatever I did or said was whatever I did or said. Our show wasn’t scripted so I’m never turning on the TV surprised by what I saw. I thought it would play out a little different because I guess now people think I’m just one dimensional, meaning I’m just loud and argumentative and I think I have more layers than just that. They spent a lot of time in our household. I have six kids, I don’t have a nanny, I don’t have a cleaning person so a lot of times the burden is left on me, my older daughter and my family members. We didn’t spend a lot of time on how hard I work for my charity, which is called Beyond the Game, we’re actually building a school in Swaziland, Africa so you haven’t really gotten a chance to see that and also, I’m big on family and I’m big on running my businesses so again, it’s TV, they have to make a 30 minute show and they’re gonna take the things that they think will make great TV and use those things so it’s definitely give or take.
Was some of the friction between castmates because you ladies were just meeting each other?
That’s not true. We all knew each other some way, some how. Maybe each group of us didn’t know each other but the only two people I can probably honestly say I didn’t 100% know, like, I couldn’t just pick up the phone and call were Erin and Brittany but you gotta remember that Erin and Brittany were friends with Amanda so you could never look at this cast and say no one knew each other, I think that’s a big myth so the people out there doing interviews saying, “I didn’t know her, I didn’t know any of these people before this process started,”⎯that’s a lie. I got to know Brittany and Erin through Amanda, which is how real friendships work. You learn other people through friends. And I knew Pilar before doing the show.
Speaking of Pilar, there was a video of you that surfaced and it seemed like you were upset because she didn’t come visit you in the hospital⎯
Everyone is putting words in my mouth. My problem is not that she didn’t come to the hospital room, it’s that she said it was staged through Vh1. My problem is that was my life. That was real life. I got $10,000 worth of hospital bills to show for that. I’ve never been asked to be part of a scripted show or a scripted reality show so that day I went off and I was upset. I felt like it was a smack in the face from everybody that went out there and gave their all and gave what was true to have it knocked down and say, “Oh, they planned that, that’s why I wasn’t a part of that.” So it really upset me because that really scared me and I have the bills to prove it. I’m still going through a lot of tests so that was really big for me.
Are you relatively ok now?
I’m relatively ok now but by me being in⎯I don’t think I can get into that one a whole lot because it carries on into the next expisodes but I will say it’s on going and you will see what the results are and what the tests were and you can figure out what was going on.
You did say you were taking weight loss drugs.
I was taking Phentrimene. I was taking a whole lot of energy drinks at the time. The stress of being on the show, my diet was all wrong. Everything that I was doing was all wrong and that was a bad combination. Anybody that knows that take diet pills or whatever, you’re not supposed to do a lot of caffeine intake and those energy drinks have an astronomical amount of caffeine in them and that was me trying to be on the real side and tell the truth. It’s a lot of pressure to be in the public eye. I’ve had three kids in four years so what I’m trying to maintain for my own personal self even had to come on television and that’s another thing I want to say: When I signed up for this show I knew I was signing up for a lot but I didn’t know I was signing up to be beat down and bullied the way I have been at this point. I’ve been ugly, I’ve been fat, I’ve been a fan, my hair was a trending topic. They disrespected my kids. I knew I was signing up for a lot of things but that part has become real life for me. And I feel bad. I didn’t know at 33-years-old that I could really be bullied. And I am being beat down and I think if I wans’t a strong person⎯I see why a lot of people in the entertainment industry turn into what they turn into. It’s hard every single day waking up and being called ugly or fat, hearing you suck as a wife, or y’all are broke or y’all are this. So people who get to see the show don’t get to see the aftermath that comes along with me. Sunday used to be exciting for me but now Sunday is the hardest day of the week for me because I know that after I see the show there’s gonna be the backlash from people’s quote un quote opinion.
Were you always loud and over the top or was there a pivotal moment in your life where you decided that this was how you were going to be?
[Laughs] Let me tell you. You can go to FaceBook, Twitter, go back and do some interviews with friends and family, I have been loud my whole life. My father gave me the nickname mouth of the south. There’s a news reporter in Michigan named Carmen Harlan [and] when I was growing up they used to say, “There go Carmen Harlan, she’s gonna tell everybody’s business” [laughs]. It’s who I am and I have embraced who I am over the years. I get it from my family. I get it from my friends. I think I’ve toned down a little bit with age and with my kids but that’s who I am and I think it a lot of it comes with passion. I speak with a lot of passion when I talk so if I really believe in something and definitely if I believe I’m right I’m gonna argue you louder and probably stronger than the average person would do. People think I’m being over the top for TV but that’s really me. I’m just naturally loud.
Talk about the type of childhood you had?
I think I had a great childhood. I was raised in what I call it upper middle class. Both of my parents had great jobs, we took two family vacations a year, had cable in the car, two cars in the household⎯I think that’s the best way to describe it. It was very loving. I have brothers and sisters and we were very active in a lot of things and that’s why even on the show I’m always screaming, “I’m an athlete.” Sports were really big for us in our family. I played sports, my brother played football, my sister played volleyball so we were really athletic growing up and I think that rolled into who I turned into as a person. I always speak on this when I go to schools because I think the best thing for little girls is to be athletic because it teaches you listening and discipline skills. But as far as growing up, please believe that with every family there comes issues and I think we embrace ours just like everybody else.
Going back to football players not making as much money as people think they do, can you elaborate on that?
This is the best way that I can explain it and I think we’ve said time and time again, I’m gonna say this out loud so you can print this: The Fosters aren’t broke. I never said we were broke and this is what I’m trying to explain to people. When you’re dealing with basketball or baseball or hockey, their money is guaranteed. The numbers that you see on a piece of paper is the money they make period. In football our money is determined by a lot of things. The only money that’s guaranteed is bonus money. After that, the typical NFL salary can start at $200,000. Here’s where it gets crazy and people don’t get⎯they are pressured by the world to live this lifestyle so if you have a guy that’s making $200,000, after taxes it’s probably $175,000 then after his agent it’s probably $150,000. You’re really only down to $125,000 after that.
And that’s not enough to ball out without going broke.