Posted Saturday, March 3, 2018 by RODNEY HOemail@example.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
BET Her (formerly Centric) has revamped "From the Bottom Up" with a whole new cast for season three. It debuted Saturday night, March 3, at 10 p.m.
The show focuses on women who have made big mistakes, often illegal ones, but are working to reclaim and rebuild their lives. It's an exercise in image rehabilitation.
The most notable cast member is Angela Stanton, who used to work with Phaedra Parks long before she became a "Real Housewives of Atlanta" cast member. Stanton ended up in prison for several years for white-collar fraud.
She released a book called "Lies of a Housewife: Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil" basically calling out Parks for using her, then discarding her in prison. Parks got off scot free. Parks filed a defamation suit, challenging the veracity of the book but dragged the case out for years. Even when placed under deposition, Parks was evasive. Stanton filed a countersuit. In 2016, after a judge threw out Stanton's counterclaim, Parks finally agreed to drop her case.
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The book kept right on selling, especially after Kandi Burruss mentioned it on "Real Housewives."
Stanton, in an interview, credits Burruss for placing her on the radar and help vindicate her to the public. Last fall, BET Her (formerly Centric) offered her a spot on "From the Bottom Up."
"This was a woman on redemption tour," said Nicci Gilbert, an executive producer, an R&B singer and former cast member of the defunct TV One reality show "R&B Divas." "Having her on the show made a lot of sense."
Stanton had never heard of the show and did some research. "It seemed like something I'd fit in," she said. Her "bottom" was actually years old but she makes a compelling figure for a show like this.
"It's a chance for me to tell my story and what I'm doing now," Stanton said. She owns her own publishing company Stanton Publishing House, which she describes as "the home of reality books, to write in order to heal."
She wrote her first book "Life Beyond These Walls" while in prison, a collection of stories of women in prison. She interviewed more than 100 women. "You think you got it bad until you hear other stories," she said. "Some of them in my book are never going home."
Stanton just released new book about her life since her 2013 book came out including the odyssey of the lawsuit. It's called "Dismissed With Prejudice."
"Everything we used in trial is in that book," she said, "to show what I went through. It's so easy for people to judge you and look down on you... The hardest thing in the world is fighting for your own truth!"
She said she is still angry with Parks, that forgiveness has not come easily. "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't upset. I still am," she said. "If I had lost that lawsuit, I don't know if I would have been able to live beyond that."
On "From the Bottom Up," she is one of two cast members who have been in prison. The other is Brandi Davis, who served time in prison for drug dealing and just got out in time for the show. And one woman Tamika Wright was about to go into prison for illegally cashing in enough WIC vouchers meant for low-income pregnant women and mothers to buy a $1 million mansion.
She said she had some tension with Tamika. "We kind of bump heads," she said. "It's like going to school and have to get around new people. We're feeling each other out and getting to know each other."
She has five kids. Her oldest daughter is a lawyer who graduated from Howard. Three are teenagers still living at home. Some of her issues with her kids will be featured on the show. (She missed a huge swath of their childhood while in prison.)
"It allowed a lot of self reflection," she said. "Seeing me on TV, it shows me where I have room for correction. There are things I can improve on. It shines the light of a single parent raising a gay son. And I am trying to repair all the damage from being in prison."
Stanton is a fan of "Real Housewives" and watches it religiously. She thinks Porsha Williams is probably done on the show this season: "It's sad because you can tell she isn't the brightest star in the sky and how Phaedra manipulated her."
Gilbert, the executive producer, said the show is on a small network and has a modest budget. She can't send the women to South Africa or the Bahamas like "Real Housewives." "We're not looking for Louboutan girls," she said. "We're just trying to give them a platform to tell their stories."
"From the Bottom Up," 10 p.m. Saturdays, BET Her