Sweet, sultry, and successful is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of reality-star Jennifer Williams. As one of the leading ladies on Basketball Wives–VH1′s most successful reality show– Jennifer comes off as the head-strong business woman who doesn’t take no for an answer. Finding a balance between TV drama and ‘real life’ reality can be difficult, but this New Jersey native has managed to start her own cosmetics line and open new doors in the dating world for a little…fun! Beyond the television world, this tall flirty girl is all about fulfilling her dreams and having a good time despite what people may think. In this exclusive OliveCocoMag interview, Williams dishes on her dreams of becoming an attorney, why you shouldn’t believe everything you see, what she would never do to Royce, and one thing every woman must have that no one can take away. Introducing our Woman of Media: Jennifer Williams.
OC: You grew up in New Jersey. As a kid, what were some of your career aspirations?
JW: You know what, growing up I actually wanted to be an attorney. I went to school, I graduated with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Pre-Law. I interned at a law firm and I was like ‘whoa, this is a bit much!’ But at one point that’s what I wanted to do. I’ve been to law school and everything , but I didn’t end up going the law route. I really enjoy justice and all that legal stuff.
OC: What swayed you to do something different after you got into the law field?
JW: I think I kind of realized I never really wanted to do the whole “Corporate America” thing. I always wanted to work for myself and do something for myself. It can be a little intimidating when you think about it because that sort of seems to be the route everyone takes especially in college and that’s kind of what they preach, the whole ‘go get a job, work your way up the ladder.’ That’s something I never really wanted to do. I feel like I was forced to do it. I mean, you know, I’m kind of happy where my life ended up, but I guess if I could’ve done some things different, I probably would’ve, but I’m not complaining!
OC: Well you’re definitely not in Corporate America…you’re pretty global now! How were you initially approached about being on VH1′s Basketball Wives?
JW: Well, Shaunie O’Neal is one of the executive producers and she talked to Evelyn about it and we kind of all got on the phone. At first I was a little hesitant because I knew I was going through a real-life situation with my soon-to-be ex, and I was thinking to myself…’Oh my God, do I really want the whole world to really know what’s going on with me?’ because I’ve always been a private person. Then I was thinking to myself, well if I do this reality show I have to be real and I can’t pretend because I feel like the cameras will pick that up. I wanted to definitely be true to myself, but it was a struggle because I knew that everything wasn’t on the up and up with Eric and I. I’m glad I did it because I think every woman had been in a situation where they’ve gone through a bad relationship, so it’s not like I’m out there by myself. I think a lot of women can relate on some level or another.
OC: As a woman in the media, how difficult is it to keep that composure in front of the cameras? I know sometimes you forget that it will be shown on TV.
JW: It’s definitely difficult and I think because we’re in our 3rd season and we’ve had pretty much the same crew, they become like your family so you forget that the cameras are there. Sometimes you have those moments where you’re like, ‘Oops did I do that? Did I say that?’ But it’s reality and I think you’re just being real and I know we get criticized a lot because there’s so much drama on the show. We film for like 3 or 4 months and there’s so much that we film and so much that doesn’t make it, but I get it. Drama sells. We get criticized a lot, but regardless if you’re on TV or not, people are always going to have an opinion, people are always going to criticize. People are like, “Well why didn’t you leave him before?” You really can’t say what you’re going to do unless you’re in someone’s shoes, so it’s just becomes a part of the territory and I’m like OK everyone has an opinion and it can get a little rough hearing what people have to say, but this is what we signed up for so it all kind of goes hand in hand.
OC: With all of these reality shows going on, how do you think women are portrayed in the media? The shows are very edited down, we know. But even in sitcoms like ‘Single Ladies,’ how do you think women are portrayed?
JW: I think women in reality shows a lot of times get a bad rap. Again, like you said, it’s because of editing. They’re going to use what is sensationalizing to the audience. Our show you look at to know the ladies a little more; we don’t fight all the time. There’s so much more to all the women. We all have our own thing going on. I wish they could focus more on businesses…I have my own foundation, so I think there can be a balance between drama and some positive, we just have to get to some middle ground there. And I know Shaunie has been going back and forth with VH1 in trying to get them so show that balance, but it’s a struggle.
OC: You have several business ventures, and one of the first was Flirty Girl Fitness. How did you come up with that and why?
JW: Well, actually I’m not one of the founders but when my soon-to-be ex was playing in Toronto, it had just opened up. Another one of the NBA wives was going and she was like ‘Oh my God you have to go, this is so much fun!’ She said they had an amazing time and didn’t want to leave. I was like OK, well I don’t know. I’m so boring and I don’t like lifting all those weights and stuff, so I was like ‘OK, let me try it out.’ I went and I was like ‘Oh my God, this is so fun!’ So myself and two other wives invested in the company, brought it to the US, and now we have a location in Chicago and we’re looking to expand and we have an infomercial. It’s kind of like a women’s social club…it’s not your typical gym. We don’t have treadmills and weights, but we have all kinds of classes. Pole dancing, Zumba, Pilates, boxing. You can get a manicure and pedicure. We have our liquor license, so we do a lot of parties, so it’s like a women’s social club. It’s really girly and cute!
OC: With that, how important do you think it is for women to stay physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy?
JW: I think it’s very important that you have all of those things intact because I think when one is off, you’re kind of off balance. So I think it’s very important to just be well-rounded.
OC: Let’s talk about Lucid! I know on TV you said you wanted to have something that was your own. So how has that been, creating your own thing [Lucid Cosmetics] now?
JW: It’s been really good! It’s definitely a new chapter in my life…I’m all about independence. Lucid cosmetics is like my little baby and I’m watching it grow. I thought it was just going to be simple like, ‘Oh, I want to make lip gloss and we’ll just make it happen,’ but it’s been such a learning process because I literally have done everything from the packaging to picking out the containers and the colors, so I’ve been involved in every aspect and it’s like my own thing. I’ve been doing everything myself..designing the displays, everything! It’s been difficult, but I’m learning a lot. I always say to myself that nothing good is easy, so it’s been good, but I’m definitely learning so I know what to do and what not to do next time. I’m looking to expand and branch out and not just be lip gloss.
OC: I look at the colors online and see that there are lip glosses for every shade of woman. How important was it for you to create something that all women can wear?
JW: It was really important for me to create something for everyone because I didn’t want to limit myself to one particular race because I feel like cosmetics should be for…everyone! I tried to pick colors that I know would go well with everyone. I wear all the colors myself, I think I did a pretty good job. It was difficult trying to narrow all the colors down to just 5 colors. I’ve been getting great feedback, so it’s definitely rewarding to hear.
OC: On the show it was like wow all of a sudden you were working on a lip gloss line and your friends had no idea! Why did you decide to keep that from your friends because they too were shocked?
JW: I’ve always been that way! Like I said before, I’m a private person. I don’t really like to talk about things that I’m working on until I know it’s 100 percent. It’s more like a personal thing for me…I just don’t want to jinx myself until I know it’s 100 percent a go. Then I’ll talk about it. You know, there can always be a bump in the road, so I just don’t really try to put stuff out there until it’s like ready to go.
OC: I understand, because then if you tell and it doesn’t go through, people are like “Oh, what happened to such and such…!”
JW: Right! I knew it was something that I was working on and it took me a long time! It was not as easy as I thought, so I didn’t want to put it out there until I had something to show.
OC: Women’s friendships are equivalent to relationships. So, what are 3 women code rules that women should not break in friendships?
JW: I would say one, definitely don’t date someone’s ex. That’s just a little sticky! I mean, if you have to tell one of your friends to not date your ex, then I don’t think they should really be your friend. The next, I think in friendship–and any relationship–the key is communication. You should aways communicate. Sometimes you may mean one thing, but it comes out like another. I think it’s just best to communicate and talk about it before things escalate. And the third thing…
OC: I ask that because of Monday night’s episode where Royce went and met up with Eric about business venture without your knowing. That’s kind of a thin line…
JW: You know what? I think what it is with myself and Royce…I think Royce is a little bit immature. She’s clearly stated that she hasn’t had a lot of friends and a lot of relationships and I really think when you’re married to someone, it’s a totally different ball game. You know? Even different than being engaged or having a boyfriend, it’s just a different dynamic and I think maybe if you haven’t been married or aren’t married, sometimes you don’t understand that. Honestly, I didn’t either. When I got married, it just seemed like it was a whole different….things just changed. So I think you have to respect that because marriage is an institution. You take those vows in front of God. Regardless of what she and I may be going through or whatever the situation is with Eric–I mean, I just wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t go and do something with Dwight [NBA player Dwight Howard- Royce's baby's father] without telling her, regardless. I’d be like ‘hey he reached out to me about XYZ, are you cool with that?’ I would just give the person a chance because Royce and I may not be friends, but we do work together, and I wouldn’t want it done to me. But really trying to communicate that to her is like going through one ear and out the other! I kind of think it’s a lost cause. I think it should be a mutual respect.
OC: So…we’ve seen you on the scene with a new, young gentleman. You’ve been spotted on the blogs with him. Is this someone you’re dating, are you in a relationship since you’ve moved on from Eric?
JW: No, I’m not in a relationship…I’m no one’s girlfriend! I don’t have a boyfriend. I’m just getting back out there in the dating world, so I’m kind of just getting my feet wet. You know, I’ve gone on a couple dates and I’m just trying to have a little bit of fun. For the longest, I was throwing myself into work and just really concentrating on my businesses, but I’m actually trying to have a little bit of fun now. I’m definitely not tied down to one person, so I’m just trying to have fun!
OC: What kind of advice can you give to young women who may want to be in your position one day? Whether it be aspiring to have their own business, be on television, and more.
JW: I would tell women to just always follow their dreams. You may have people tell you ‘no’ a few times or it may be more than a few times, but if it’s something that you want to do, you just really have to stay focused on that because one day that door is going to open up and you have to be ready. I will also say to make yourself the number one priority. I think sometimes we get into relationships and we get caught up in the man and we don’t put ourself first, but I think you should always put yourself first and I always say one thing, too…for women to go and get their education. That’s one thing no one can take from you! People can take your self-esteem, they can take your money, your car, your house, whatever it may be, but no one can take your education away from you and I think that’s really important.
OC: Although you say you’re a private person, what’s been one of the most rewarding things about being on Basketball Wives and exposing yourself?
JW: I think the most rewarding thing right now for me probably has been Lucid Cosmetics because this is something I always wanted to do. I always wanted to have my own business. Of course I have Flirty Girl but I have business partners, so this is like my own thing. I developed it myself. To see everything come to life has been really rewarding for me, and I’m thankful for being on the show because it has definitely given me some opportunities that I don’t know if I would’ve had or maybe I would have had to knock on the door several times, but doors are opening up for me and that is so rewarding for me.
OC: When you’re not working, traveling, or making appearances, what do you like to do to relax? What does Jennifer like to do to have fun?
JW: I don’t get to do that too often now [laughs]…it seems like I’m always working or I’m always filming! I do love to travel and have fun and take vacations. I actually went back to Italy a couple weeks ago and it was so amazing. I didn’t put on any heels, no makeup, just laying out on the beach having some cocktails, girl talk…it was really fun. I love to travel…I don’t get to do it as often as I’d like because I’m so busy, but that is probably what I love to do the most.
OC: So this time in Italy, you weren’t walking on cobblestones in 5inch heels?
JW: [Laughs] No!! And it’s so funny because when I went to Italy–I went to Capri and I went to Sicily–we went to Rome [on the show] and I didn’t know what to expect going to Capri. So I had a whole bag of heels that I didn’t even wear like ‘oh my gosh, this is so crazy!’ Yeah, but no walking on cobblestones in heels on this trip!
OC: Many OC readers share the same dreams, fears, love lives, and insecurities, but in the end we are all tough! What do you think of OliveCoco’s mission? And what makes you a strong OliveCoco woman?
JW: Honestly, I think just really being grounded and just trying to stay positive in a bad situation. I think we always get confronted with negative things, but I think it’s really how you deal with it. Just trying to keep a level head. I know there’s so many other ways like violence and arguing, but I think just being a strong woman is really how you deal with things and having self-esteem and being confidant.
OC: When you’re home-alone, no makeup, just by yourself…what is one thing you wish people knew about you?
JW: I think people think I’m really proper , but I love to have fun! I love to laugh, I’m very silly, I make a lot of jokes. I think people always see the serious side of me , but I’m really not like that all the time!