A sea change is underfoot in Black Hollywood. Once used as an ambivalent signifier for Atlanta’s emergent class of urban movers and fakers, that tag is no longer defined solely by the aspirations and extravagances of the city’s entrenched music industry. Instead it’s being usurped by a more literal version of Black Hollywood – Atlanta’s urban film and TV industry.
Which has pretty much come to be defined in this town by reality TV and the proliferation of such shows filmed in Atlanta. The groundwork, which has steadily been laid since NeNe Leakes was anything but the new normal, culminated two nights ago with the announcement of Atlanta’s first annual UnScripted Reality Awards show.
Scheduled to take place September 14, 2013 at Atlanta’s premiere Woodruff Arts Center – yes, that Woodruff Arts Center – the UnScripted Reality Awards is being produced by “Real Housewives of Atlanta” cast member Peter Thomas. Besides being the visionary behind UnScripted, Thomas created such past productions as the defunct but influential How Can I Be Down Music Conference, and the Source Awards. He’s partnered with his old Source magazine compadres, former owners Dave Mays and Benzino (current honchos at Hip Hop Weekly), and Stacii Jae Johnson (former entertainment and special events director for Mayor Kasim Reed’s office).
Thomas, who envisions the award show as a way to “celebrate the space,” credits his wife, “RHOA” star Cynthia Bailey, for coming up with the name “Unscripted.” Though the first award show won’t air on television, it could in the future. Beyond that, producers see it as a platform through which they can begin to “honor [reality stars for their] fabulosity, [their] beauty, and [their] sheer ratchetness, too.”
While touted as reality TV’s equivalent to the Oscars in film and the Emmys in scripted TV, the UnScripted Awards draws its closest comparison to hip-hop – as Thomas pointed out during Tuesday night’s press event at his BarOne club on Memorial Drive.
“To me, reality shows are like hip-hop back in the early ’80s, where ain’t nobody really feeling you, they don’t see you, you’re not relevant,” he said, addressing the gathering of Atlanta-based reality stars from a laundry-list of cable shows (“Married to the Medicine,” “Taking Atlanta,” “Big Rich Atlanta,” “Love & Hip Hop Atlanta,” “R&B Divas,” “Kandi Factory,” “Basketball Wives Miami,” and “RHOA”)…
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