Tanya Young Williams Reveals Truth Behind 'Basketball Wives' [EXCLUSIVE]
Black women had no creative control and producers encouraged fights
Tanya Young Williams is known for many things. She’s the estranged wife of troubled athlete Jayson Williams, a mother of two, a Huffington Post contributor, and a spokesperson for the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Oh, and she's also a motivational speaker, a television personality and now an advocate for the positive image of black women in the media. As a former cast member of "Basketball Wives L.A." she knows firsthand how it feels to be portrayed in the wrong light. Williams spoke exclusively with Loop 21 on the truth behind "Basketball Wives" and why she’s speaking out.
Loop 21: Your web site TanyaYoungWilliams has become a place where you give yourself and others a platform to speak out. You recently interviewed Pilar Sanders, why did you want to tell her story?
Williams: Because I can relate to what she’s experiencing right now: being married to a professional athlete and [going through] a public break up. She wanted her story to be told in her own voice and I’m happy she trusted me to do it. It’s a lot of drama to go through especially when everyone seems to have an opinion.
[ALSO READ: Pilar's Gag Order Lifted, Statement Released]
Loop 21: Speaking of drama, you’ve been pretty outspoken regarding "Basketball Wives" and everything that’s happened this season in Miami. As someone who used to be on the show, tell us how much of it is made up and how much is true?
Williams: Let me say I only spoke out about the show when the community at-large came together and said enough is enough. I have a platform with the Huffington Post and friends like Star Jones who also wanted to speak out. The show is not scripted, but what does happen is producers will plant seeds in your head. They’ll say stuff like, "Well, did you know a real person's name is actually this or this happened to that person?" I think they have a strategy in building the tension, but they don’t actually say, "Hey, we want you to fight."
Loop 21: Why did you agree to be on the show? Is it true that you never watched an episode before filming?
Williams: No, I had heard about the show though. I went in with my manager and met with senior executives. I was told the show would focus on our lives. I asked specific questions having heard about the Miami show and they stated they wanted L.A. to be different. I really went on to bring an awareness to something I’m passionate about which is the National Domestic Violence Hotline. I wanted to use the show as a bigger platform of awareness to get the word out. The goal was - and still is - to save lives.
Loop 21: What made you leave the show? Many in the media said it was because you didn’t have enough drama in your story line.
Williams: Actually, the final straw for me at the time was covering the Conrad Murray trial for KTLA. It was very hard for me to speak about that case and be taken seriously [while] being on a show where black women were fighting and throwing water bottles at each other. I couldn’t co-exist in both worlds.
[ALSO READ: Basketball Wives' Bully Bevahior Petitioned]
Loop 21: This month you stated there are no black women with creative control working behind the scenes of the show. Does this mean that Shaunie O’neal isn’t actually getting a lot of say, despite her executive producer credit?
Williams: I can only speak on my experience and black women do not have creative control on the show. There wasn’t a black woman in the editing booth saying, "Hey this is ridiculous; we shouldn’t show this." The only black people I ever saw on set were men - the cameraman and one head producer. What’s sad is there are a hundred hours of filming, yet they only use 8 hours of tape. You’d think someone would say, "Hey, let’s balance the show out," but it doesn’t seem like anyone does that.
Loop 21: Do you regret participating in "Basketball Wives"?
Williams: Absolutely not. I had an amazing experience and got along with everyone.
Loop 21: If given the chance to be on your ideal television show, what would it be?
Williams: It would be a show in which women or mothers juggle a thousand different things and still manage to make it work. I think women around the world would be able to relate to a show like that.
Loop 21: You wear many different hats, but what’s your ideal goal?
Williams: I know that I was given a gift to inspire and share how good God is. I plan to do that until I can no longer speak.