Imani Showalter caught a lot of flack early on during the first season of Basketball Wives L.A. when she chose (poorly, she admits) to call Draya “worthless” during a passion party where the women were all getting to know one another. Unfortunately, the incident has stuck with her, and happens to be one of the biggest regrets Imani has about this season, but if nothing else, Imani wants people to know she’s not actually judgmental and there are more aspects to her personality than we got to see on the show. “There are a lot of things about myself and things that I’m doing and the type of mother that I am, and all those things weren’t shown, so people have this one-sided view of who Imani is,” she told me when we talked at the reunion. Hopefully this interview will shed some light on who the real Imani is, a caring mom, a peacekeeper, and a devoted friend.
How was your experience filming, overall?
It was very emotional. It was trying at times. It was fun. I think it was a little bit of everything.
Was it what you expected?
Totally not what I expected. [Laughs] In that way, it was kind of good and kind of bad. It kind of took me off guard so I had to just conform and just be myself. You know going in to it, I thought it would be one way. So I was like, ‘Okay, this is what I’m going to do. This is how I’m going to be.’ Just the whole scenario, and how TV works, it’s new to me so I just had to make adjustments.
Were you happy with how you ultimately came off?
Not necessarily. I think there was not a lot of who Imani really is that was shown. You saw the times where I was upset and the times where there were emotional issues going on and I came off slightly angry. I was more angrier than I normally am, really. There are a lot of things about myself and things that I’m doing and the type of mother that I am, and all those things weren’t shown, so people have this one-sided view of who Imani is. So, that was a little disappointing. That’s something I would change.
If you could go back and change the “worthless” situation or or chosen a different word, would you?
Actually in that scene when I was talking to Draya and getting to know more about her, I actually reached over and was like, “I want my box back.” I actually wanted to change the word at that point. Just going into the room, I was alerted about certain things, so when we got there, we were asked to describe the person. When I opened the box that had all the words in there, that was like one of the first words on top. It kind of equated in my mind, okay, I’ll just put that one in there. You know, it was impulsive. I probably should’ve thought it through a little bit more. It was not the right thing to do. I don’t think anybody’s worthless.
Did you expect the backlash that arose from that?
I really didn’t but, I realized that people didn’t see the whole context under which it was done. We were there for three or four hours and they saw maybe three or four minutes, they didn’t know I had spoken to her off set. I just realized that the viewing audience didn’t get to see me calling Draya behind scenes or saying off camera, “Is that something you want to talk about because if not I’ll sit back and not tell why I ever said it.” I just didn’t want to put that kind of business out there if she wasn’t okay with it. I get why people would be offended or upset for someone to call a person that, but there was a lot more that went into it and after it.
Googling her was a big theme of the show, and you can’t trust everything you read on the internet anyway, were you worried about any of that?
No, because she told me she wanted to speak about it on camera to be able to defend herself and let people know her side of that story. As far as Googling people, I do know that there are a lot of false stories about everything and everyone on the internet. So, I don’t put to much credence into that alone. There were other things that I utilized to form my opinion that had nothing to do with Google.
So, what’s your take now? Do you believe her when she says it was all made up?
Well…it’s not for me to believe Draya. It is what it is. I like her as a person. I think she’s funny. I think she has a lot ahead of her. I think she’s going to do great things. Whether that happened, that part of her life, or not, what she wants to say about that, that’s up to her.
What’s the most shocking thing that happened throughout the course of the season?
I was really surprised at Jackie honestly. I just thought all of us coming into it kind of looked at her as an older, more mature mom, you’re married, you’re settled, you’re not messy anymore. To see the show, it was just very shocking and I didn’t expect that out of her.
Have you spoken to her since that restaurant scene?
If she were to apologize now and confess to manipulating you all, would you trust her?
You know what? I would love an apology from her, but as far as being friends, I’m kind of spent on friends. I have a lot of great people in my life. I’m just like okay, that’s how she is and I don’t want to surround myself with people like that and that’s totally fine. I don’t have any hard feelings against her. I’m glad it came out when it did before it got dangerous or before feelings were hurt or anything like that. You know, I’m just ready to move past it.
Do you regret moving Laura’s stuff out and believing what Jackie told you about her for so long?
I don’t regret believing it only because I’m not a stupid person. I really feel like I should have done what I did. I wish my diligence was better, but at the time, Jackie was talking to everybody and I wasn’t speaking to anyone. As far as me moving Laura’s stuff out, that goes to show—a part of me still loves Laura at that time because me, the real person, would’ve thrown her stuff in the cul-de-sac and kept it moving. I did it out of love and respect for her and her children to call a moving company. I did it the right way. I just believe that no matter what goes on in life, there’s a right way and a wrong way to handle things. I think I did that they right way.
Were you ever nervous to show your kids or bring your kids into the fold at all?
Umm…not when we’re home. I have amazing kids by the way.
One of the lines that you’ve said on the show that caught some attention was on your date when you said “It’s not like you have to make $800,000.” I know you weren’t throwing that number out to be like you have to make that, but it seemed like such a specific number that it was like, do you have to make that to date Imani?
No. It’s interesting. Basically what I was trying to say was, I’m not saying you have to make a certain amount of money. I just wanted him to understand that I’m a single mom, so any man that I date at this point has to come in as head-of-household for me and the children. It’s not a certain number, per se. I just expect a man to be a provider and head-of-household, that’s just how I was raised. Nothing against anyone who doesn’t make that, if you can make it on $50,000 let’s do it! You know? I just expect a man to be the provider of the family.
Did you continue to see Kyle after that?
It was a great date. I think he was amazing. He looked fantastic. But you know, I think it was safe for a first date. I can’t say that we had a love connection, he’s just a great guy. I’ve gone on one other since then. Not a whole lot. I don’t want to rush into anything because I have small children. I want to make the best decisions for all of us. But, I’m not opposed to it. I’m looking forward to it.
Were you okay with the fact that like your love life was a storyline for a few episodes?
It was kind of off-putting because I don’t put that much attention into it. But I guess all the girls were looking at it kind of like, “Oh poor girl! She needs a man.” [Laughs] I’ve just never been that girl who’s felt like I needed a man to hold me down. I’ve always been able to provide for myself and take care of myself. Any relationship that comes along at this point is secondary. If it happens, it does. If it doesn’t, it’s not that big of a deal.
What do you think of what some of the girls were saying that Jackie is the oldest but the least mature? Do you agree with that?
Yeah, I do. I don’t know her reasoning for why she did what she did. We never got that answer. So in my mind, if there’s not a reason for it, then you just did it because you could or just to be nasty. That’s immature.
Do you have any regrets?
Obviously, calling Draya worthless was one. Secondly, the thing I learned most about myself is I have a way of just being done with people and blocking them out. Don’t explain anything. I don’t care. I’m just done. I’ve heard I’m very stubborn. A lot of the girls are like, “You’re so stubborn. We can’t convince you to do anything.” So, I think going forward in my life, off the show and in my life, I think I will be more open, more forgiving. I would take time to listen to people, seeing what they have to say instead of writing them off and moving on.
Are you surprised by what the fan reaction to the show has been, or response to you? Do you check Twitter and stuff like that and see what people say?
For a couple of episodes, I checked Twitter and then it kind of went downhill for me and I was just over it. [Laughs] I realized that that’s, you know—Twitter…it’s huge but that’s not everybody’s opinion. I can’t base my life on what others think of me. I felt bad because I feel like they don’t know who I really am and I think I’m a great person. I think it’s sad that people see me as this mean, fat, bitter, old, whatever, you know? I have so much more. I’m a loving person. I’m a great friend. I’m a fantastic mom. I have the biggest heart ever. There’s a lot about me that hasn’t been shown. You only see this one-sided version of me. That’s important, you know. I wish they would have shown that part of me.
I’ve seen a lot of the people who are still bitter about your choice of the word “worthless.” That stuck with people.
At the end of the day, we all got into confrontations. It wasn’t a profanity. We all said stuff in the heat of the moment that is not the nicest. I don’t think worthless is the worst word you could ever use on the face of the Earth. What shocked me was that my kids are in the kindergarten and second grade, and you’re taught to use your words. I think people were more offended about me using my words than they were by women using their fists, and that was shocking to me. I think they have nothing else to rip me out about, and so some people choose to hold on to the negative. I myself, I apologized to her. Draya and I were okay with how we handled it. We’re friends; things are great. I chose to take that negative and turn it into something positive. It helped Draya. It got her story out and people love her. I focus on that positive part of it. Some people still hold on to the negative. I’m not.
What’s your relationship with her and all the other women? Do you keep in touch with them?
We tape so much and for so long that I think initially once we wrapped, we were just kind of like we want to get back to our real lives and our own lives. I do still speak with some of the girls. I talked to Malaysia after we wrapped. I speak to Laura all the time, Gloria, their mom. I spoke to Draya. We hung out afterwards. Things are good. The only person who I really haven’t reached out to, spoken to, or taken call from is Jackie. I mean, I even spoke to Kimsha. Things are good with us.
What about Tanya? The memory that’s imprinted on by brain was when she said to you, “I don’t take the bus.”
I know! [Laughs] I haven’t heard or spoken to Tanya. I saw her interview on Anderson Cooper one day, and I sent her like a kudos kind of tweet. She did a great job. I have no hard feelings against any of the girls. I wanted to be supportive of her as well. I didn’t reach out. I just sent her, a note, “I saw you on the show. You did really good. Kudos to you.”
Do you have a favorite part of the season?
After the confrontation with Jackie, the bus ride that you guys saw, you guys saw like a few minutes of it, but we had to travel about an hour to get back to the hotel, and that hour was pure comedy. The girls kind of went in. They were just cracking up. It was kind of like the evil was gone. The weight was lifted so we could just let our hair down and enjoy each other. Nobody was on guard anymore wondering like, “Well does she really like me?” It was just light and fun and it felt like we were sisters. It was a really nice time.
Was Hawaii what you expected at all?
No. You know honestly, I wasn’t going to go. I didn’t even want to go to Hawaii. I was just done with everything and everybody. I was just over it. Looking back in hindsight, I’m glad I did go because had I not gone, none of this would have come out.
Were you expecting your talk with Laura to be more like, “Laura and I are done”?
Yeah, basically. When I stepped on that beach with Laura and she was like, “Let’s talk it out,” I basically told her, “Listen, I took your stuff and put it in storage. I’m done with you and I don’t ever need to speak with you again. It’s fine. No hard feelings. Move on.” There was this look in her eyes when she was talking to me like, you see me. Listen to what I’m telling you. I could just feel it, and a light bulb went off at that moment. Also, I didn’t want to be duped again and turn on Jackie, so I had all these moments where I just needed to process. I just didn’t want to talk to anybody but just think about it rationally myself. I just couldn’t get a moment because Jackie refused to let me process myself.
That episode was like the beginning of the end for Jackie.
Right. Yeah, like Jackie was very up and down the whole season. You never knew what you were going to get with her. She would call and cry and be so disturbed, “They don’t really like me. When they say this, do you think they mean that?” Like, she’s overly paranoid and I would try to talk her down. And then instantly she’d be like, “Okay! Well thank you I feel better now”‘ It was like, you were crying five minutes ago, what? You just never knew what you were going to get with her. She was just very emotional so we never knew what to expect with her.
Do you trust everyone in the cast?
No. [Laughs] I’m friendly with everybody. I like everybody. I think trust is something that’s kind of earned, and we spent a lot of time not really liking each other. It was kind of like Hawaii was kind of like a reintroduction of sorts. It was kind of like I met them for the first time again. I love each and every one of them. I just don’t give trust away well.
How was it being involved in the first big fight between Malaysia and Laura? You were very actively trying to keep them apart. When you’re watching that, and that’s the first introduction of the show and the drama it can create, were you worried that that was going to be the next few months of your life?
I was because initially, that wasn’t how the show was sold to me. I thought it was different. I thought we were mothers and we were going to be mature. We were going to handle things different. We weren’t going to be out partying and at the club. I thought it was different, so when I saw that fight I was like, “Oh God! I’m right there.” It’s the same things, and that’s not what I wanted. I’ve known Laura and I just got to really like Malaysia a lot, and just to see them fighting, it was very disturbing. I didn’t want that at all for either one of them.
You seemed so calm for much of the season, but you would also say things like, “I can throw down if I have to.” Were you just never confronted with anyone that you wanted to really react to like that?
I think every action has an opposite reaction. There was nothing that dramatic for me to have to physically attack anybody. Not that there’s ever a reason to physically attack anybody. I just think at a certain point, I gauged the situation for what it was. If it didn’t affect my lifestyle, my children, my family, then it really wasn’t that important and it was something I could walk away from. Prior to doing this show, my life was great. If an issue had rose on the show, that’s fine, I’ll walk away. My life will still be great. It was never nothing to cause a huge brawl over. And I think we’re all grown, and out of respect for being grown and having children, we should know how to handle ourselves.