Even if Royce didn’t come to Basketball Wives with her own built-in controversy as the mother of Dwight Howard’s son and sometime viral video star, it probably would have found her. Since the first episode, Royce has been a lightening rod, igniting backstabbing, flip-flopping and general chatter with her free spirit, straight talk and provocative dance moves. Below, she talks to us about her reputation, show drama, being there to make friends (and not), hobnobbing with ball players and her level of devotion to her charity work.
What do you think of the show?
It’s definitely different than what I expected it to be, but Shaunie warned us all of that. She said, “Look, this could be a really positive show, or it could be full of drama. It depends on what you’re dealing with, it depends on what you say.” It’s a reality show, it’s real. It’s kind of like your life being put on blast. You can’t get mad at something you do or something you say, because you said it and you did it. It is what it is.
How does the show differ from your expectations?
I went in thinking we were going to be a group of women who got to know each other and were there for each other. I think there’s certain things that come out looking positive, but then of course you also have your drama. It’s just like real life. In real life you’re thrown into things that you never thought you’d be thrown into. When people say things like, “It’s scripted,” or, “They set this up,” it’s really not that. Yeah, they say, “You’re all going to dinner,” but what we talk about, what we do, what we say, that’s us.
When your name was coming out of everyone’s mouth as soon as the show started, I thought, “OK, we have our star.” Did you get that sense?
I didn’t want stardom as a result of a pool party. I don’t want it to be because of the way I was dancing. If I broke out, I wanted it to be about something different. But, again, if I didn’t want that to be seen, then I shouldn’t have done it. Hindsight is 20/20, and when I look back on it, at least I have a memory that I can show my little one when he gets older and be like, “You know what? Mommy did some crazy things and I’m not going to hide this from you, but learn from my mistakes.” I still had fun, so I’m not going to say that I regretted it or I’m ashamed of it, because it’s not that. Did I take it too far? Yes. Do I regret it? No. You learn from it and you move on.
Evelyn, Jennifer and Suzie called you out on that incident almost immediately. Did you feel like they were ganging up on you?
I was shocked. I was a little bit hurt because the day after the pool party everyone was still OK with it. Then two days after, when it hit the Internet and it started getting all this backlash, I kind of did feel like I was thrown under the bus. I just had to realize even though I’ve known these girls for eight months or whatever, we were never friends. It wasn’t a situation where I should have expected these girls to hold me and give me a hug and say, “It’s OK, we know you didn’t mean it that way.”
Did you buy their story about guilt by association — that your behavior might reflect badly on them?
I think they felt like that in the beginning, but now they realize after getting a lot of backlash for certain things they say or they do on the show, that it’s kind of like they were the pot calling the kettle black. I’m like, “Remember? Y’all were telling me what not to do and what not to say, but now y’all getting a taste of it.” Now they’re calling me saying, “I don’t know how you’ve dealt with this because I’m having a hard time not cursing people out!”
Are you specifically referring to the pictures of Evelyn?
No, I’m just saying in general. The whole thing with the pictures of Evelyn, I think is an effed up situation. I have no idea how I would react if something like happened to me, because I think it’s totally on a different level than me dancing at a pool party. She’s definitely standing strong, because I would probably be a hermit in Hermitville somewhere. I can’t imagine something like that happening to me. I commend her on the way she reacted to it, and I’m just wowed.
When Evelyn, Jennifer and Suzie informed you that Gloria might not be as cool with you as you were with her, did you feel that they genuinely thought you should know what was up, or did you feel like they were just trying to stir up drama?
I know a lot of people are saying, “They were just trying to stir up drama, they were trying to start something when they’ve been talking about Royce since the first episode, blah blah blah.” If you look online, there’s actually a video of Evelynn and I where we had lunch together, and I told her my issues with her, she told me her issues with me. Evelyn never pretended to be my friend and she said it all to my face. Same thing with Jen, although she did reach out and we did the whole makeover thing. And I never have a problem with Suzie. With Gloria and I, things were different. Gloria and I went cake-tasting for her wedding, we had dinner, we talked on the phone all the time. We were actually being cool. We were talking about taking the kids on play dates to theme parks, so for her to have that conversation on the phone with Jen that I never knew about, and for her to basically deny us having any type of relationship and being cool with each other, I felt like she was doing it because she was trying to become friends with them. She threw me under the bus. I totally understand where she’s coming from when she talks about Matt and his camaraderie and his teammate thing. However, when it came to just us, she was so down for hanging out. When I see her interviews, I’m like, “Are you kidding me?” That’s the part I thought was really fake. If you don’t like me, just say you don’t like me.
Are you that straightforward? Would you admit to disliking Gloria?
I cannot tell you anybody that I just absolutely hate. I can name like two people that I really dislike, but I can’t even really say that I just dislike Gloria. I never knew her well enough to say that she was a friend, or anything more than an associate. She was an associate, but I thought she was straight. I thought she was cool. For me to say that I don’t like her would make it seem like she was my friend or something like that, but it was never that. It’s just I don’t do Gloria. If I see her I’ll be cordial. Maybe. But outside of that, she was an associate. So no sleep lost, no love lost, it was an associate and that’s it.
Do you get angry when you hear the stuff Gloria has said about you?
Seeing it just makes me feel stupid. I’m not even going to lie, it makes me feel dumb. I really felt like Gloria was going to be that real chick, and she was going to be the one that I was going to be closest to.
It seemed like the dividing line was when you were talking about associating with the players as a dancer. She kind of took exception to that and thought you were being flip.
Gloria and I had talked about that outside that dinner, and she said she was good. We were talking how it’s cool in high school for the football player to be with the cheerleader and the basketball player to be with the dancer, but when you get in a professional setting, it’s the complete opposite. Now we’re become groupies or gold diggers or whatever. My thing is, look, this is our job. If you fall in love, you fall in love. Nobody’s going to tell me that I can’t be with the person who has my heart. I know that at some jobs you can’t date a co-worker, but people do it all the time. Someone may end up losing their job, but they live happily ever after. No, I didn’t get the happily ever after, but I got a relationship that was completely happy with for a couple of years, and that I would not take that away from myself for anything. We got the best blessing out of it, which is our little boy, and I have no hatred towards him. I get angry about the situation that’s out there right now, but I can’t change that. You deal with what you have to deal with. But for her to sit there and act like that’s the turning point for her, it was not. If it was, then why was she calling me the next day and why were we talking even after that conversation about, “Let’s hang out, let’s have play dates, let’s go shopping, let’s do this, let’s work together on some events,” you know?
I kind of felt like there was an implication that you fooled around with guys that were attached?
Absolutely not. I’ve dated one basketball player, period. I’ve only been with one basketball player, period. And that’s my son’s father. All these rumors that go around…I heard that I had a relationship with Dwyane Wade. I’ve met that dude one time in ’07, I was three months pregnant, and I took a picture for him. After I took the picture he held out his hand to say, “What’s up? Thank you.” And that was it. That’s the only time I’ve ever come that close in contact with him. So for that to go around is ridiculous. I don’t how people come up with stuff, but I don’t lose sleep over it because I know what’s true and the people involved know what’s true. It is what it is.
Is it flattering at all to have your name in so many people’s mouths all the time?
I don’t know if it’d say it’s flattering. It definitely makes me relevant. Definitely it’s what put me on the show. So I’ll be thankful for that. I know there are a lot of people that are mad I’m on the show, and I’m like, “Well you should have kept my name out of your mouth!”
What about the other women? Do you like them?
I actually do like Jen, Evelynn and Suzie, Erika and obviously Shaunie. There’s different types of associates that you have in your life. You have different kinds of friends. Evelyn is that girl that if she doesn’t like you, she is going to tell you straight up, she does not care about your feelings at all. Suzie is that girl that you can party with until the sun comes up. If I need someone to talk to and cry on someone’s shoulder and not feel like I’m a wimp or something, that’s Jen. Granted if we never taped this show, I probably would have never become friends with these girls or even associates, but I’m happy that I did. Now that we’ve gotten to know each other, we’re actually all really, really cool.
What’d you think about Evelyn and Suzie questioning your motives for wanting to volunteer at the homeless shelter on this week’s episode?
I didn’t know that’s how they felt about that at the time, but if they felt like I had an ulterior motive, then that’s sad. I work with a lot of charitable organizations, but I don’t do that so people see that Royce is a part of it. I don’t do things to tag my name to it. The whole soup kitchen thing, I do that back at home. I go just to go. I don’t tell people that I’m going so I can have cameras in my face. Every month even, I ride down certain streets in Orlando and I’ll just give somebody $50. If you walk with me in Orlando sometimes, they know me because I just go talk to people. It’s something that keeps me grounded. I’m not into big charities where you have to go and spend a thousand dollars a plate and go to Africa or something. I don’t do that. I’m the one that when the commercial comes on TV like, “Adopt this child, send $10 a month and you’re helping a child,” I’m that person. I was really shocked that they would think that I had ulterior motives. I thought they had fun. I thought they would get something out of it.
When you danced at Evelyn’s birthday, that was through with your own company, right?
Yes, Fantashique. It’s primarily a burlesque dance company, but that’s not all we do. I have to concentrate on something so burlesque is what we concentrate on, but we also do weddings and we do churches also, and we do birthday parties. We’re trained in ballet, jazz, lyrical, hip-hop, modern, all that. We do a lot of clubs, but I don’t want people to think that’s all we do.
With all of the drama that you went through on the show, did you come out of it happy?
Yeah! I came out of the show very happy. I was proud of myself, and I stayed true to Royce. I made my mistakes, I learned from them, I moved past them. I didn’t say stuff that I thought sounded good, because I believe that people can see through B.S., and I believe that people can tell when you’re just trying to be politically correct. If that’s not how I feel, then that’s not how I’m going to say I feel. I kept it real and I was Royce 100 percent of the time, so what you see is what you get.
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