Reality television has been one of the most controversial mediums of television since its inception, especially in the black community. Name a reality show not centered on a black character, and there’s usually something negative said about them. Name reality shows centered on a black character, and there’s something negative about them too. But negative or positive, black people have starred as some of the most memorable characters in the still relatively young sub-genre. Here are nine of the most memorable black reality television show characters.
1) Flavor Flav from The Surreal Life and Flavor of Love
Flavor Flav’s place in history as hype-man in one of the most important groups in hip-hop history was already cemented, but now, it will forever be for something else. The success of the Flavor of Love franchise where Flavor gets to choose a girlfriend from a bevy of women was complete foolery, but for better or worse, no one will ever forget FLAVOR FLAV and that darn viking hat.
2) New York from “I Love New York”
So went Flavor Flav, so went New York. The loudest, most visible character on two seasons of Flavor of Love made such an impact, she was given her own spin-off, and just like its male counterpart, “I Love New York: was a ratings smash.
3) Kevin Powell from The Real World (Season 1)
Had it not been for Kevin Powell and his unapologetic militancy towards non-black people, “The Real World” would have been considerably less real. Though he is now a renowned author with political ambitions, to a generation of people raised on MTV programming, he is the protype for the black militant character we see in so many reality shows today.
4) Coral Smith from The Real World New York (Season 10) and Real World/Road Rules Challenge
The Bay Area native was an unapologetic, in your face, mean girl who took nothing from anyone. Beef with practically anyone who roomed with her or on the team with, Coral didn’t shy away from it. As she once famously quipped on an episode of Real World/Road Rules Challenge, “I don’t wrestle, I beat bitches down.” Sheesh. No wonder she won, the award for “Roomate You Love To Hate” at the “Real World Awards Bash.”
5) Omarosa Manigualt-Stallworth from “The Apprentice”, “Celebrity Apprentice”, and “The Ultimate Merger”
Most people hated her, but Donald Trump loved Omarosa and overtime, we felt the same way. Omarosa was such a notorious character on her debut appearance on The Apprentice, and became such a star from the show, she was invited back to be a part of Donald Trump’s spin-off Celebrity Appearance. And, for their last collaboration, Trump executive produced Omarosa’s matchmaking show, The Ultimate Merger.
6) Carla Hall from “Top Chef New York”
The quirky and confident, Carla Hall not only made some memorable dishes on her season of “Top Chef”, she also made a memorable run. At first an underdog, Carla ended up one of the show’s three finalists, and though she ultimately did not win, she was brought back in “Top Chef’s” current fan favorite season.
7) Michael Knight, “Project Runway”
Though he ended up a runner-up on his season of the fashion-design competition show, Mychael Knight made a name for himself with his numerous showings throughout the season.
8) The Real Housewives of Atlanta, from “The Real Housewives of Atlanta”
Between Sheree Whitfield, “Nene” leakes, Kandi Burruss, Phaedra Parks, Cynthia Baily, DeShawn Snow, Lisa Wu-Hartwell and yes, even Kim (don’t be tardy for the party!), how could we choose just one character to highlight on this list. Each girl is her own reality television show, Bravo was just smart enough to get them all together.
9) Toccara Jones from, America’s Next Top Model
Toaccara Jones inclusion on a season of Tyra Banks competitive model show was a wake up call to the modeling industry. Even though she didn’t end up winning, Toccara’s mere presence on ANTM resonated with audiences long after she left the show catapulting her to mainstream modeling success.