Shaunie O’Neal has faced a lot of criticism this season on Basketball Wives, and while she’s occasionally been overwhelmed by it, she tells me the only the the cast can do at this point is take responsibility for their actions, move on, and do better. She tells me she heard her critics loud and clear and has plans for a more positive show in the future, though she couldn’t tell me if that talk she had with her pastor had any ramifications for her own future with the show. It’s all still “TBD.”
More than all that drama though, I wanted to know what else Shaunie has on the horizon, like the film she’s co-producing. And don’t worry, I asked her what she was thinking when they pulled that fish prank in Kenya’s room. Our reunion interview is below.
When you know that there’s going to be a touchy subject brought up on a reunion show, how do you feel?
I don’t ever want to see anybody get into arguments but I know it’s natural, it’s normal for people to argue, not get along, and for the most part I just hope it stays verbal. You guys can say whatever it is you wanna say, just make sure it’s being said, that’s it.
When it escalates, like when the bottle was thrown, what are you thinking in those situations?
I mean, you don’t like to see any of that happening, at all. It’s not something anybody can be proud of. You’re thinking, God, there had to be a better way for this to calm down than what just happened. There is always a better way.
You can tell you tried to insert some moments of positivity on the show, like your daughter’s birthday.
Right, well, we’re at a point now, after sitting back and watching this season that me voicing my opinion on there needing to be more positive things, more balance of what really goes on in our lives outside of each other and even when we’re together. That needed to be shown. After seeing how this season got out of control, I think that my voice has been heard. I’m happy to hear from the network and from Shed that they hear me, they hear what I’ve been saying, and we’re all on the same page.
How do you feel when you get saddled with all the criticism, and people say “This is your show, you’re responsible for this”?
It’s absolutely overwhelming. I think that I have defended myself to a point where there’s really nothing else that I can say. I still stand by the fact that I don’t want to see fights, I don’t like to see my friends in that light at all, but it is reality and despite it happening, I would like to see more of the positive, more of our reality, our families, having a good time with the girls. That does exist, that’s what I would like to see. But I get very defensive. I know who I am, I know what bothers me, I know what I’m saying to my friends, whether they decide to air it on TV or not, they know I’ve been like “Come on, we’ve got to do better.” We gotta talk more. And it’s not always on TV, so I get people asking “Why do you just sit there and let this happen?” and I’m like, how many times have I said the same thing? I know my friends, I know when it’s about to go left and right now wouldn’t be the time to talk to her because she won’t hear me. There’s nothing I can do to stop the situation. I’m not God. I’ve definitely voiced my opinion, I’ve let them know that shouldn’t have happened, this is not okay, but this is a TV show, and ultimately, we as a cast have to take responsibility for what we do and say. It starts with us taking responsibility for ourselves. I hear our critics, I understand them, but at the same time, I think everybody’s reality should be respected. The bad seems to outweigh the good this season, but we are aware of it.
Can you talk about that final scene with your pastor? Did you come to any conclusions about your future with him?
I don’t know. He definitely left me with a lot to think about and I think it’s just a process. Right now, it’s rough. But I think hopefully when viewers see that scene of me talking to my pastor, that’s real. I was there for like an hour and a half, and it’s rough, I really have a personal struggle with how it is interpreted, and what people think I feel or assume I feel or whatever, and you have no idea. All I can do is take responsibility for me and fight the fight of “Let’s try to show the positive more than any negative.”
When you tell him in that scene that you worry that people view you as a “ghetto hot mess” any of your co-stars would take that personally, like it’s directed at them?
Yeah, and that’s another thing, I have to be verrry careful with my words because some of these ladies are really my friend, and at the same time, I don’t think I have to say this person’s name or that person’s name, the ones that are my friends and know that I love them know I have their best interests at heart. I have all the ladies’ best interests at heart, but I don’t mean any individual is a hot ghetto mess, I mean the show in itself. And when I was talking to him, I was talking about the show. I know we get accused of “Oh, that was just ghetto!” and that’s what I meant.
What’s your relationship like with Jennifer lately?
I haven’t talked to Jennifer. How it left off on the season is pretty much how it left off in real life. It was a bit strange, I didn’t get it. Again, Evelyn and I have been friends for a long time and I think maybe in Jen’s mind it’s like, if Evelyn’s my friend, we can’t be friends, I don’t know. It’s very high school. I’ve got kids and a life outside this show, I really don’t have time to figure out who’s talking to who, all over something that I wasn’t involved in in the first place. When we were in Tahiti, that was the last I ever heard from Jen. I’m not mad at her, I don’t have a problem with her, but I think she lacked in the loyalty area.
What can you tell me about the movie you’re working on?
Its not a “Basketball Wives” movie, first of all, it’s not like we’re taking the show and making a movie out of it, but it is about basketball, it’s about that lifestyle, and it’s a love story. It’s funny. It’s empowering. It’s a little bit of everything. It’s not a documentary though.
Are you interjecting some of your own experiences into it?
My co-producer Tracey Edmonds, and I definitely talked and had a ladies forum on “the lifestyle” and how things work and the protocol, so there is reality in there about the life of being in the NBA. I didn’t base any character on any particular person. It’s not like you’ll be able to say, “Oh, that’s Shaunie’s character.” I didn’t get that personal.
So what was the deal with the fish prank in Tahiti? That seemed like a running theme of the trip, in addition to all the heavy drama.
Did you take it as mean, or did you take it as funny?
I took it as immature, more than anything.
Honestly, Tahiti was probably the most boring trip we’ve ever taken on the show and there was absolutely nothing to do, we just sat around, it was like Real World, we had mics on almost twenty four hours a day, we don’t normally film like that, but there really was nothing to do there, so we were really like, let’s play a practical joke, and that’s how that happened. I think if we didn’t have the Tami and Kesha fight it probably would have been funnier or maybe more lighthearted than it came out to be, but it was honestly just out of boredom.
Do you have a favorite moment from the season?
My daughter’s birthday. I could watch that a million times.