There was a meme that started circulating with the onslaught of Instgram popularity that seemed apropos at the time and read: “Being famous on Instagram is like being rich on Monopoly: It’s not real so calm down.” This is no longer the case, as The Westbrook sisters are proving—one follower at a time—how you can turn likes into cash and now a reality show.
BET’s new docu-series, #The Westbrooks, follows 19-year-old India (a certified Instagram star, having amassed 1.1 million followers by simply snapping tons of selfies and the like, though her outted relationship with rapper The Game didn’t hurt) and her other four sisters: Crystal (650k followers), Bree (106k), Morgan (375k) and Brooke (143k). Combined, they’ve got over two million people following them day and night to see what they’ll post next.
BET is hoping to turn those followers into viewers who’ll watch the beautiful sisters from Compton as they navigate through their lives, loves, children and family, and how social media stardom plays into all of it.
Five sisters who have achieved social media fame and are now gunning for more, based off no expressed talent… sound like anyone else you might know? Yes, the Westbrooks have naturally garnered comparisons to the omnipresent Kardashian clan. However, they collectively feel like they’re nothing like those other sisters. During a splashy premiere event Monday in Beverly Hills, they spoke about those comparisons.
“I think being compared to the Kardashians is a wonderful compliment,” explains Bree Westbrook, the bourgeoning plus sized model. “Karshaians are awesome. I don’t have anything negative to say about them. But I will say we are totally opposite. We are not driving around in thousand dollar, million dollar cars. We don’t have million dollar houses. We started from Compton. We’re branding ourselves off of what we see from our father, an entrepreneur. So we’re trying to brand ourselves as Black women, young Black women.”
“Our bodies are real,” biker chick sister Morgan chimed in, countering the notion that any of the Westbrooks’ voluptuous bodies were altered by plastic surgery.
During the premiere episode (which followed the BET Hip-Hop Awards last night), the girls went about concocting an event to brand themselves. They decide to throw a Westbrook Girls pool party, dividing all the planning work amongst themselves. Once the party got underway, it didn’t go as well as they’d hoped, and India—the most popular on social media of all sisters—leaves the party (and her sisters) high and dry.
Life imitated art Monday night, because India did the exact same thing at the premiere. She left her sisters and her own premiere event.
Crystal Westbrook is for one concerned about her behavior. “I think I’m the most protective of India because I’m the sister right above her. I feel like I’m closest, so I have this responsibility for her, and I don’t know about her. We really just have to watch her, because she really just does her own thing.”
Sister Bree feels differently. “I’m the opposite. I’m like, don’t even waste your time. She’s just going to do what she does. It’s a phase. I did it. I had a kid at her age.”
Aside from being linked to The Game, India will also be seen getting cozy with Soulja Boy in the premiere episode, snapping millions of selfies and speaking in hashtags.
When asked why they decided to do this realty show, Morgan Westbrook had a simple answer. “Did we have a choice? Instagram put us here. Everybody put us here.”—Crystal Shaw King
Crystal Shaw King is a seasoned TV, radio and online entertainment writer. She's also a contributing editor for a social justice foundation in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter @crystalamberbam.