Watching attractive, affluent “housewives” go about their business and get into cat fights has made for addictive, love-it-or-hate it reality television. Bravo and producer Scott Dunlop spun off five additional series from the original The Real Housewives of Orange County, focusing on the lives of big-personality gals in New York City, Atlanta, New Jersey, Beverly Hills and Miami.
That got Maxine Tulloch to thinking: Why am I not seeing Caribbean women on these shows?
Tulloch, originally from Jamaica, has produced and hosted a cable TV talk show shown on stations throughout the Caribbean and in the northeast. She decided to take another leap and create a show spotlighting women like herself.
Caribbean Wives of South Florida was born.
What Tulloch has so far is a pilot that will be screened during a red-carpet evening at 7 p.m. Thursday at Cinema Paradiso in Fort Lauderdale. What she doesn’t have yet is a deal to turn the pilot into a series. But she believes in Caribbean Wives, so much so that she and husband Keith took out a $50,000 mortgage on their Miramar home to get the pilot made.
“I was perturbed by The Real Housewives of Miami,” Tulloch says. “South Florida is not just Hispanics. When you look at the demographics on people from the Caribbean, there are just as many of us.”
Tulloch put out various casting calls, including two that aired on the Hot 105’s popular Tom Joyner Morning Show. She was swamped with hopefuls, and wound up with a diverse group of Caribbean women.
Kendra Parker is a Jamaica-born photographer and mom to a 12-year-old aspiring track star. Terryann Ramirez, also from Jamaica, is a mother of two and a radiation therapist who treats cancer patients. Selines Silverio from the Dominican Republic is a financial analyst and personal trainer. Jamaican Cindia Azize is a former model and beauty queen. Brigette Cadet-Young, originally from Haiti, is a Miami police detective. Carmel Moise, also from Haiti, is a publisher. And Dale DeFreitas, who comes from Grenada, is a nurse.
Parker, who was out shopping for a red carpet-worthy dress on Wednesday, knew of Tulloch from her talk show. When she heard about the Caribbean Wives pilot, she thought, “It’s about damn time.”
And she thought she might be right for it.
“I always set out to have fun and experience new things. I’m not shy,” she says. “This showcases the way we party, raise our families, interact with each other. It shows we assimilate but hang onto our culture.”
Parker thinks the series could be entertaining, enlightening and, sometimes, funny.
“A girl who met me and heard me talking Jamaican patois asked if I was speaking another language,” she says, laughing.
Ramirez, also on the hunt for a dress Wednesday, plans to take her daughters to the Caribbean Wives premiere. She likes what she calls the eclectic mix of foods, dances and cultural traditions represented in the show, though the on-camera exchanges weren’t always a picnic.
“I love to be out and about, interacting with the ladies. But you are still dealing with people -- with their attitudes and emotions,” she says.
Tulloch, who acknowledges that making Caribbean Wives of South Florida turned out to be a crash course in how to create dramatically interesting reality TV, is hoping that the Cinema Paradiso evening will lead to a series with a continuing life.
“The premiere is really to get the community involved,” she says. “[I hope they see] the need for filling a niche.”