Carlos King’s newest executive produced reality series, Belle Collective, made its debut on OWN on Jan. 15 and fans are already loving the show. The series follows the models of King’s predecessors, featuring five boss Black women living and working in Jackson, Mississippi with the goal of highlighting Black entrepreneurship. Like most reality shows, the cast has a healthy appetite for drama and competitiveness as already laid out in episode one.
The cast is derived mostly from Jackson natives. Tambra Cherie is a local radio personality looking to take her hosting career to the next level. Latrice Rogers is a former medical professional who quit her job in biology to start her own luxury hairline. Within a few years, Rogers went from selling hair extensions out of her trunk to owning a boutique and being the number one vendor of luxury extensions in her region.
Marie Hamilton-Abston has her own mental health services practice in Jackson, making her the first and only Black woman in her region to do so. Dr. Aniontette Liles left her home in Michigan for Jackson where she completed her studies and married. She’s now building her own dental practice in the area amid a painful divorce.
The woman who ties the social group together is Lateshia Pearson, the CEO of National Women’s Brunch Organization who provides monthly brunches with the theme of women empowerment. Pearson has the idea to buy back the block with a once historic part of Jackson that thrived off of Black businesses. She’s hoping to get the ladies involved but with the bickering and competition, her attempts may not be successful.
During a recent press event attended by Shadow and Act, the cast spoke about what viewers can expect from the show and why they differ from other reality series. Pearson was the one who initially came up with the idea for the show.
“The show was initially a show about women who brunch and I wanted to show the booming Black woman business owners of Mississippi,” she explained. “I knew all of the women on some level socially. Marie and Antionette were previous sponsors of the brunch. Latrice had attended before and Tambra was a host for a few of my brunches in the past.”
Originally, Pearson wanted to be behind the scenes of the show and not a cast member. But King insisted she participate, especially when she pitched the idea of buying back Ferris Street.
“I was inspired to buy the black back Ferris Street after having a conversation with my grandfather about how it was once a thriving area for Black business owners,” Pearson said.
As for why the other women were interested in joining, they all practically had the same idea in mind. For Rogers, she wanted to show that even coming from a small town, women can build a big life.
“If you can make it in Jackson, you can make it anywhere,” Rogers insisted. “Jackson is a small city. We don’t have the same resources as New York or LA or others who live in major cities and metropolitan areas. So for me, and the other women on the cast who are from here, we are the epitome of self-made.”
The women admit however that it was a job convincing their loved ones of their decision to participate in a reality series. For Rogers, she says her husband Clifton, who is 20 years her senior, was worried about protecting their image and businesses. Now, Clifton enjoys the spotlight, with Rogers saying her husband thinks he’s a local celebrity.
Hamilton-Abston also had trouble convincing her family She says they were hesitant out of the need to keep their personal lives private. She’s not only newly-married but is a mother to several adult children and has three grandbabies. The needs of her clients within her mental health practice was also an important factor.
Belle Collective airs every Friday on OWN.