Ahead of the premiere of the third incarnation in VH1’s Love & Hip-Hop franchise—Love & Hip-Hop: Hollywood, kicking off tonight—a splashy launch event took place in Tinseltown itself to introduce the world to the new cast. EBONY.com was on hand to check out the season premiere and chat with some of the cast about what to expect from the show. And if the launch event serves as any indication of what’s to come this season, fans are in for one hell of a ride.
The launch was a red carpet affair, featuring a VIP lounge where the entire cast and other celebs—including model/actress Eva Marcille, the L.A. Clippers’ Matt Barnes, Torrei Hart (Atlanta Exes), Deb Antney (Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta), and Somaya Reece (Love & Hip-Hop: NY) and the show’s executive producer, Mona Scott-Young—were all on hand.
After the screening, the cast answered questions from the audience, leading to cusses flying, one cast member threatening to punch another in the face (surprise, surprise), and yet another asking his cast-mate how many women he’d “had his way with” on the stage. The energy was an electric setting the scene for the show, still currently in production.
Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood follows a new group of R&B and hip-hop hopefuls, including Ray J and his ex-girlfriend singer Teairra Mari, who are in the midst of a bad break-up while Ray J tries to move on with a new love; Soulja Boy, who’s finally trying to settle down with his girlfriend Nia Riley (the daughter of Teddy Riley, who’s quite aware of his history with groupies); Omarion and his girlfriend Apryl Jones, who’s in a feud with the former B2K member’s mom; and another former B2K bandmate Lil Fizz, who’s locked in a battle with his baby’s mother. The cast also features rapper Yung Berg and more.
The show follows all their lives through music and love and the complications and craziness the two bring. With a supporting cast hungry for their chance at the prize, the stage is set for a season with one golden rule: everything’s fair and love and hip-hop.
EBONY: (to Teairra Mari) You just watched the season premiere for the first time. What was your feeling after seeing it?
Teairra Mari: I was disappointed and satisfied at the same time. It’s a hard feeling to explain. I was disappointed because I really got out of my character and out of my element because of some bullsh*t. But I was also satisfied because I stood up for myself.
EBONY: What do you think will be the opinion of you on this season of Love & Hip-Hop?
TM: I think people are going to look at me like I’m crazy, but that’s okay.
EBONY: What would you like to see happen between you and Ray J?
TM: I don’t know. I don’t want to be with him. I’m okay on him. But his girlfriend walked out during the premiere because he wasn’t giving her what she thought that she needed. I laughed.
EBONY: (to Soulja Boy) Are you planning on getting serious with Nia this season?
Soulja Boy: I been in the game since I was 16, 17, and I been dealing with different girls and past relationships and groupies and stuff like that. But I’m at the point [where] I’m still young. I’m 24, and me and Nia have been rockin’ with each other for eight years. Now I’m really trying to be faithful to her, ex all the groupies out, don’t f*ck with no hoes, and just do it on a TV show. I’m always on the blogs with a different girl, so let me show the people what’s real. Let me bring the people into my life.
EBONY: What do you want people to take away from watching this show?
SB: I just want the people to know, no matter how much money you get, no matter how famous you get, we’re all real people and we all have real feelings and problems. And we all got real people we care about, and I really love her.
EBONY: (to Nia Riley) What does your father think about you being with Soulja Boy?
Nia Riley: My dad’s not a judgmental person. He can’t judge anybody in the same business as him. People say for females [that] you fall in love with someone similar to your father. He’s in the business like my daddy and I love him, I can’t help it.
EBONY: (to Omarion) What do you expect to gain from this show? You think it will have a negative or positive effect on your career?
Omarion: Truthfully, I think that because I grew up in front of the industry, people have a perception of who they think that I am. But this show is not only a franchise that I love, it will [also] prove to be a vehicle for me to reintroduce myself and my brand and everything that I’m doing and going to continue to do as an entertainer. At this point, I don’t think anything could hurt. I think everything helps.
EBONY: (to Ray J) You’ve seen how Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta can get ratchet. Are you going there in Love & Hip-Hop: Hollywood too?
Ray J: All of my scenes have fighting and drama and spitting and cursing, because it’s a real emotional, tense situation we’re going through. It’s not an act. It’s not a joke. It’s none of that. So all of the things that you see from my life, it’s a very intense moment in my world. And it’s gotten me in a lot of trouble. And so it’s been tough. It’s definitely been an emotional roller coaster ride.
EBONY: You have mastered playing a relationship out in the public eye. Does it get easier?
Ray J: No. Absolutely not. It gets harder, and I’m trying to balance between her understanding that there’s things that I have to do to be professional and there’s times where I have to turn-up as “Ray J” the character. And if me and her can’t come to an understanding, then we can’t be. Period.
EBONY: What does Brandy think about you doing this particular show?
Ray J: She’s intense. She’s nervous, she’s scared. But she’s also a fan of Love & Hip-Hop outside of me being on the show, so she’s watching it like everybody else.
EBONY: With all these reality shows and living in the public eye, what’s your ultimate goal?
Ray J: To make my family proud. Because I got a lot of money, so that’s not the goal. Now it’s to shape this edgy image and turn it around into something extremely positive in the future. Not now, I got more stuff I gotta do in this “edge.” But when it’s all said and done, after I’ve walked through the fire, I want to bring everybody out of the fire with me into something that’s really pure and something really dope.
EBONY: (to Mona Scott-Young) How “real” is this reality show?
Mona Scott-Young: We’ve been on the air for nine seasons. We’ve had maybe 40 cast members collectively, hundreds of crew members, people who have been a part of the show coming in and out as guest appearances. There would be no way for me to keep the secret if this was scripted. It’s crazy, it’s outrageous, it’s all in the casting. You find dynamic people who are open to sharing their lives. And you find the stories that you’re going to tell and that they’re going to allow you to tell. None of it is scripted. We’re not faking it.
Love & Hip-Hop: Hollywood premieres tonight at 8pm ET/PT on VH1.