If you believe you can scroll down Twitter without coming across a Black reality star’s impact, I wish you, in the words of Tiffany “New York” Pollard, an ounce of luck. Yet when the MTV Movie Awards granted its 2022 Reality Royalty trophy, it went to Bethenny Frankel, and not a Black starlet whose fingerprint had been stamped (and re-stamped) on culture.
Frankel’s true first television appearance was in 2005 on Martha Stewart’s season of The Apprentice in 2005. After being fired in the final round, she wound up on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York three years later. Her priority was promoting all she knew about the world of food and drink, which culminated with the sale of her premixed drink, the problematic Skinnygirl margarita, for $100M in 2011. She used her screen time to build a brand, but what exactly constitutes reality royalty?
Meanwhile, Linnethia “NeNe” Leakes rose to prominence in 2008 on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Atlanta. She has one of the show’s more blunt personalities and her biting banter is either why you love her or hate her. She’s appeared on a number of shows and films and even had a stint on Broadway and a clothing line with HSN, but according to Celebrity Net Worth, her net worth is over 5x less than Frankel’s. It seems Leakes has the world’s attention right now, so why doesn’t she, or another Black reality star, have a heavier purse and this most recent accolade?