What's "WAGS Atlanta" like? (E! debuting January 3)


Posted Tuesday, January 2, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Pro male athletes and attractive women tend to go together. Some women are drawn to the raw masculinity, the fame, the money. They even have their own acronym: "WAGS," as in "Wife and Girlfriends of Sports Stars." Other women often malign them as gold diggers and the like.

E! debuted "WAGS LA" in 2015 and added a Miami version in 2016 before introducing the latest version in Atlanta, which is set to debut Wednesday, January 3. I haven't seen the first two versions, but I presume the formula for Atlanta isn't that different from, say, "Real Housewives" or "Basketball Wives."

Indeed, there are charity events, parties and often petty arguments among the women.

I screened the first two episodes and interviewed two of the cast members Brandi Rhodes and Sincerely Ward.

Here are six observations:

Big cast: The show has a relatively large number of regulars: nine women. No "Housewives" show has ever gotten that big. Then again, a show like "Love and Hip Hop" typically includes far more players than the "primary' cast so viewers won't find see anything unusual. Four of the nine cast members are married. Three are single as the show begins or not dating anyone too deeply. Two are in serious relationships but are unmarried.

Seeking a ring: Two of the women are angling to get married: heavyweight boxer Deontay Wilder's boo Shuntell "Telli" Smith and NFL player C.J. Mosley's lady friend Kesha Norman. One odd strategy on Kesha's part: secretly installing a camera in their home to see if Mosley is trustworthy. "This is going to give me peace of mind," she said. "I mean, they have nanny cams. Why not a man cam?" You know this won't go well. Then again, he had cheated on her before. Kesha also feels a certain way when she finds out two other women theorized how she may have "trapped" C.J. by getting pregnant.

Imported: Like Kenya Moore on "Real Housewives," Brandi Rhodes moved to Atlanta specifically for the show. Her main residence is in Dallas, but her husband Cody grew up in Marietta and his dad is the legendary, late great Dusty Rhodes, who passed in 2015 and had deep ties here as well as a WCW wrestler. A full-time wrestler herself, she is super busy and won't be seen until episode three. "They had to film around my wrestling career, which was very difficult for them," she said.

Athletic problems: In June, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Jair Jurrjens' was suspended 80 games for failing a drug test for testosterone. The very chipper, very blonde wife Kaylen Jurrjens is crushed but she reveals the circumstances behind it. "Where do we go from here?" she said. "It's heartbreaking." She spends the second episode trying to cheer her depressed husband up.

Being single causes tension: Hope Wiseman is one of the few unattached women in the cast and she shows up at a party full of cast couples in basic lingerie. The other ladies cast some serious shade. Kesha: "You don't have be a ho every single minute of your life." Niche: "Can you spell 'Hope' without 'ho'?" Ariel Anderson, sister of Kierra Douglas (wife of NFL player Harry Douglas), is also single and starts dating a basketball player Ray Canady, much to Kierra's (ironic) dismay. They go on an amusing double date episode two where the Douglas couple grill poor Ray. "Do you have an STD?" Harry asks at one point.

Here's Harry!: Of the guys, Harry Douglas is the most entertaining. His interplay with his wife Kierra is amusing.

There she is...: Hope, Arielle, Niche and Kaylin all did pageants back in the day.


Credit: Rodney Ho

Credit: Rodney Ho


Credit: Rodney Ho

Credit: Rodney Ho

And here are some choice quotes from my interview wtih Brandi:

Bring home the bacon: "I'm not a home-maker. I don't identify with that word in any way, shape or form. A lot of women in the cast, that's all they do...  Their purpose is to raise the children, take care of the house and make the man comfortable so he can go and earn a living. That's not how I was raised. My mom worked just as hard as my dad. You don't have to be in the shadow of your husband. You can make a name for yourself."

She didn't know the other women well: "To my face, most of the women were very respectful for my choices. I'm too worried about what I'm doing to bad mouth the others. I will give my opinions on things. I try to give respectful opinions."

Not worried about herself on the show: "I have zero concerns how they splice it together. I know that it was true to who I was."

How she met Cody: "I actually met his dad Dusty first. Dusty was one of my trainers, one of my coaches. It kind of just naturally all fell into place."


Credit: Rodney Ho

Credit: Rodney Ho

Highlights from my talk with Sincerely Ward, who doesn't get a lot of air time the first two episodes:

Her take on the show: "E! is developing this franchise to compete with 'Housewives' but appeal to a newer, younger, hipper kind of crowd."

Crossover: She had previously appeared on two episodes of "WAGS Miami."

Her athletic ties: Her cousin is NFL player Derrick Ward. She had previously dated a soccer player and an NFL player herself.

Who she will have tensions with: Telli, Deontay's girlfriend. "We butt heads," she said. "It's a little uncomfortable."

Her own persona: "I love to crack jokes and be shady at the same time."

Previous reality show experience: She was almost on Bravo's short-lived "The New Atlanta," which aired in 2013. But she said she refused to do what the producers wanted and was cut out of the episodes at the last second, "literally the day before press dropped." And she was one of the women considered by Atlanta's Stevie Baggs in the second season of WE-TV's "Match Made in Heaven" and made it into the top 5.

Her work: She invests in two holistic health spas called Clean Start Cleansing Atlanta in Johns Creek and Atlanta. She also has her own resort clothing line with a factory in Dubai.

Her childhood: She was born in Ontario and her two parents were both radio personalities. As a kid, she moved around from D.C. to Detroit to San Francisco. Her father Larry "Doc" Elliott also worked PM drive at WAOK, V-103 and Kiss and retired around 2005. He passed away in 2015. Her mom Requaya Ward is a house music DJ. Sincerely graduated from North Atlanta High School and attended Clayton State University.

Video vixen: She did very well for a time as a music video vixen. Her most notable appearance was as the painted girl in "So Fresh So Clean" video for Outkast. She has acted in a few films, too, including "Bad Boys II" (2003), "2 Fast 2 Furious" (2003) and "Spider-Man 3" (2007)