Sharon Carpenter works at Russell Simmons’ GlobalGrind and is constantly conducting interviews with hip-hop’s biggest names. Now that she is starring in VH1’s new series, The Gossip Game, she’s on the other side of the recorder.
In an exclusive interview with CocoaFab, she dished the dirt on her costars, her career and what we can expect to see this season. Sharon reveals why bloggers are dangerous, which cast mates are jealous, and who she considers to be “unprofessional.”
CocoaFab: What is it like to be on the other side of the interview?
I enjoy it because I do like talking about things I’m passionate about. It’s something I’m used to as well. Ever since I was on BET, I had to get used to being on the other side because people wanted my take on things. What is very different is putting my personal life out in the open. That’s what comes along with the show. We explore my relationship with the man in my life and I think playing our relationship out on camera has definitely put increased pressure on our relationship. It has pulled us together and then pulled us apart in certain aspects. It’s something I’m emotionally invested in, and of course I’m emotionally invested in my career as well; but when it comes to somebody you love and playing your relationship out on camera, that has been the toughest part for me. I’m somebody who is very quiet. I’m not someone who puts my relationship out there publicly. I’m very private about my personal life so it has been difficult.
CocoaFab: How has that been for you?
It’s definitely nerve-racking. I’m somebody who has been very private. As a person who has a traditional journalism background working with the likes of BBC and CBS News and even BET News, I’ve been really safe and steered clear of really giving my opinion too much in public. It’s nerve racking to really show who I am as a person. I think there’s a demand for it and the media is definitely changing and nowadays we know more about the people we get our information from than we ever have before. I think there’s a demand for that from the audiences. They want to know about all the public figures in their lives whether it’s a singer, actor, or someone they get their news from.
CocoaFab: How did you think you were portrayed in the first episode?
I thought it was pretty amusing. It wasn’t that long ago when it actually happened. The thing is, I’m curious about what people have to say so I do read the comments. I think I’m going to stop doing that as the show goes on. I know a lot of the time there aren’t a lot of good comments. When people have good things to say they; keep it to themselves and then they have bad things to say they will actually make the effort to put it out there and make it public. I’m guilty of reading those comments and it could be annoying. Being taken seriously is something that is important to me. When it comes to my hard news interviews that’s not an issue whatsoever. When people don’t know my background as a real journalist and they see the light-hearted interviews I do, I’m not taken as seriously as I’d like to be. That’s something women in general deal with in this industry because it’s a man’s world.
CocoaFab: Any backlash from you pretty girl pity party?
Surprisingly no. Surprisingly people are agreeing with me and saying they totally understand. At the end of the day I promised to put the realness out there by doing this show. I agreed to be forthcoming about the issues I deal with personally and professionally so that’s what I’m doing. I’m sure there will be some backlash but that’s inevitable when you sign up for something like this.
CocoaFab: What’s with the pecking order? What are your thoughts on journalists vs. bloggers battle?
I’m definitely caught in the middle of that on the show. I think as a journalist, I’m somebody who has really been trained to do this job. I’m trained to gather facts and information and inform and educate audiences. I have an obligation to make sure what I’m saying is true and accurate and fair. I’ve made a few blanket statements about bloggers. One was used in the promos and I received a lot of backlash from that.
You have different types of bloggers. You have some who break new music and new artists; which is great. You have some bloggers who like to give their opinion on pop culture and things happening in the media; which is absolutely fine. Then you have bloggers who put out a story as if they’re reporting on the story themselves without actually fact checking. Sometimes they lift stories from other sites without knowing if it’s accurate or not. I think it gets a little dangerous when no fact checking is involved and you’re spreading information that turns out to be misinformation. I think there’s definitely a danger that comes along with that. Anyone can call themselves a blogger and it’s not something you have to be trained for. Whereas with journalism, as I mentioned before, that’s something you have to be trained and experienced at before you can call yourself a journalist.
Sometimes the lines get crossed. There are journalists who blog, but if a blogger is also a journalist I think they would use the term “journalist” first. Some bloggers have been upset at my comments but when I explain my stance they agree. I make sure I tell the story in a fair and accurate way. At the end of the day, if you’re not one of the bloggers I’m talking about then you shouldn’t be offended by what I say.
I’m one of the co-creators on the show. Myself and one of the executive producers came up with the idea when we were working on another show. During a phone call, I was venting my frustrations about my day and we realized it could be a great premise for a show. I am a producer in general, but not on the show and I like being behind the scenes. With this show, I had to choose between being behind the scenes or in front of the camera. I’m not in control of how the edit goes. It really has to be one or the other in this situation so I focused on being a cast member and leave the rest up to the actual producers.
CocoaFab: What’s your take on your castmates?
Some of them I knew before we started filming. A couple of them are pretty good friends of mine. I’ve known Angela Yee for years and she is my girl. She’s a fellow Brooklynite. She’s very cool and I’m very proud of her. She has done amazingly well in the past couple of years that I’ve known her. She is very supportive on the show and definitely a good friend of mine. Kim Osorio, I love her as well. She is someone that all of the women really respect. She has been in the industry for a long time and I think she has opened doors for a lot of women in hip-hop media. She has been through a lot of ups and downs and come out on the other side and is doing very well for herself. We actually worked together at BET so I know her very well from that. When I first got into the industry I was an associate producer and I used to interview Kim when I worked on hip-hop stories.
Then we have JasFly. She’s an up and coming journalist. I think she’s a smart woman, I think she often takes things I say the wrong way and doesn’t necessarily want to admit that I’m further along in my journalism career than she is. We will see some of that played out on the show. I feel like it’s a journey for all of us and it may be never ending, but for me I know I still have a long way to go, but I know I’m further along than some of the women are. There’s nothing wrong with not being as far along as I am and I think that’s something JasFly is dealing with in regards to me. She can be a little sensitive about that. All in all, I have nothing against her and she’s cool. I think she’s smart and I think she’s on her way to success.
There’s Ms. Drama. As you saw on the premiere she creates drama wherever she goes. She is someone I don’t know very well but it’s definitely very off-putting to me that when she’s around she tends to bring drama with her. I don’t think that’s a good look for any of us considering we’re out and about and around my peers. I’m not one to make a scene in public. That’s not my style at all. I like to be professional and I think Ms. Drama can be unprofessional at times.
Vivian Billings, I love. I’m getting to know her now. She’s a real sweetheart and she works really hard. She’s a mom and a wife as well. She’s just a genuine person.
K. Foxx is someone I don’t know very well because I feel like she can be really secretive. There’s some tension between her and Angela and Ang is my friend. There are definitely times where I have to make a choice and again, I’m definitely closer to Angela than K. Foxx. I don’t have anything against K. Foxx even though she has made some not very flattering comments about me, Angela and Vivian.
She did an interview recently and she called me “conceited” she called Angela “fake” and she called Vivian “a bitch.” So, we’re owning that and we’re calling ourselves “FCB.” If she is gonna call us that then let’s embrace it. You might see us tweeting about “FCB” and that’s why.
CocoaFab: Do things like that affect the dynamic on the show?
We’re still filming now, so I’m sure that what is happening now will end up playing out. We started shooting in December so it has all happened pretty quickly. There’s not much of a lag. It all feels very fresh. When we see an interview from other cast mates saying things that aren’t so nice about us, you may see some of that played out later.