Tami Roman On The Real World: “We Were Pioneers And Guinea Pigs”

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Reality TV star Tami Roman is known by many viewers for her “spirited” interactions on the hit show “Basketball Wives.” What some may not remember is that this is not Roman’s first rodeo on television. In fact, she was one of the first Black women on MTV’s “The Real World”, appearing on Season 2′s “Los Angeles” cast.

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“The Real World’s” premise was to put a group of strangers of various racial, gender and ethnic backgrounds from around the country and have them live in a house  for several months to share their unique perspectives.  It is the longest running program in MTV history and the longest-running reality TV series–ever.

“I auditioned for the show while working at an HIV Health care center,” Roman tells TheUrbandaily.com. She was then known as Tameesha “Tami” Akbar. “I wanted to bring awareness to the illness and show people that there was help during a time when HIV was first exposed and people weren’t as knowledgeable as they are now.”

HIV awareness, sexual preference and race relations became hot-button issues throughout the series and came to define the show as a cutting-edge forum for honest debate.

“Real World when I was involved was special,” says Roman. “The cast of season one and my cast were the pioneers and guinea pigs all in one. Seven people picked to live our lives out in front of the camera, no acting, no over the top shenanigans – just some kids who wanted the opportunity to get to meet some new people and live at the beach for four months.   No one knew that we were creating a whole new format for TV that would still be in existence and bigger than ever over fourteen years later.”

One of the critical moments for Tami’s group in season 2 was the dismissal of house member David Edwards. After an incident where he pulled bed covers off of Tami, who was only dressed in her underwear, he was dismissed from the show.

“By not facing some deep rooted personal issues, I may have over reacted in dealing with the David situation,” Tami says of the incident today. “However, just to be clear, I did not ask for David to be removed from the show. I offered to stay at my own place and come to the Real World house for taping. I went to work and upon my return, David was gone and we were picking a new roommate. The ultimate decision was on the producers to remove David, not mine.”

Almost twenty years later “The Real World” has spawned a legion of reality TV programs that run the gamut from dating and romance to parenting and the music industry. While some would argue that the results have not always been good, the impact of reality TV on pop culture can’t be denied.

Over the next few weeks TheUrbandaily will be highlighting some of the most popular Black reality TV shows and the stars that were made as a result. Our Guest Editor Tami Roman will be chiming in with her thoughts about today’s crop of personalities and what they mean to today’s viewers.

As for the show that started it all, what are her thoughts on where “The Real World” has gone?

“The show isn’t really ‘real’ now from what I hear from people, as I do NOT watch it,” Tami confesses. “People have told me that it seems as if the new casts are just looking for their fifteen minutes in hopes of parlaying it into a career within entertainment.”

That’s about as real as it gets.

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