Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Interview With Tonya Bailey, Founder of Bailey's Pageants, Featured on Toddlers and Tiaras Season 7

On the season seven premiere of TLC’s Toddlers & Tiaras, Tonya Bailey, founder of Bailey’s Pageants, made things very clear. Everyone wants to win the supreme title. You won’t always agree with who wins. A loss is not the end of the world. And most of all, don’t badmouth the judges or the winner – pageant wins are based on opinions. Just because you think your kid is the best doesn’t mean an impartial pageant judge will agree.

We at Less Than Reality sat down with Tonya to get a feel for today’s pageant world and what it’s like to be part of the Toddlers & Tiaras reality franchise.

Less Than Reality: You’re the founder and head of Bailey’s Pageants, which hosts multiple pageants throughout the year. Tell me about your pageants and why girls are clamoring to compete in them.

Tonya Bailey: At Bailey's Pageants we work hard to make each child feel like they are the Mega Ultimate Winner! We work hard to have one of a kind amazing crowns and the best prizes. We do lots of special extra things for the contestants to make them feel special

Less Than Reality: How did you get involved in pageants? Did you compete before you began your own company?

Tonya Bailey:  I competed until the age of 16 and began directing at 18. I am currently 45, so it has been some time. My husband Todd is the pageant emcee. My sister Shelia, her daughter Kristi and my Mom Lila also help with everything. So, everyone puts effort in making Bailey's Pageants great.

Less Than Reality: Your Jungle Safari pageant was featured on Toddlers and Tiaras. Do you think the fact that this pageant was on the show encouraged more girls to compete? Do you think anyone shied away because of the television coverage?

Tonya Bailey:  I believe some enter the pageant for the chance to be seen on TV and the excitement of a filming crew.

I have heard of some people who would rather not attend a pageant that is being filmed. I guess they feel nervous of possibly being filmed doing something they wouldn't want on TV, or something being taken out of context.

Less Than Reality: Do you think Toddlers and Tiaras has changed the pageant world? Has it made it more competitive, or made it even glitzier than it was before? Did you notice a rise in pageant enrollment as the show gained popularity?

Tonya Bailey: I have had many people tell me they entered the pageant because of the show. They saw the show and wanted to see what a pageant was really all about! The pageant world has always been competitive, just like any sport, and is always evolving. Someone is always taking it to the next level.

Less Than Reality: Season 7 is the first of Toddlers and Tiaras to focus on pageant coaches. Do you think a pageant coach is necessary to win a pageant?

Tonya Bailey: I believe a coach can only help you  in your pageant quest. They can help guide you in so many aspects besides your stage routines. Just like gymnastics, cheer or football, a coach can only help you be the best you can be.

Less Than Reality: What are some key factors that make pageant competitors winners? Are there are any primary things that the girls absolutely must do? Are there any things that can be detrimental to a competitor’s success?

Tonya Bailey: Pageants are hard work! It takes lots of dedication and discipline to be able to compete. I see some who may not have practiced, and when they hit the stage they are not prepared and it shows! Knowing you did all you can for your child to be the best she can be is what every parent wants to provide.

Less Than Reality: If you could give advice to anyone thinking of getting involved in pageants, what would it be?

Tonya Bailey: It's an expensive hobby but very rewarding! Learning to overcome shyness and come out of a shell are one of things I really enjoy seeing. How a contestant can evolve just like a butterfly. Just be prepared to put in the work because that is what it takes to be a top competitor.
Less Than Reality: Anything else you’d like to share?

Tonya Bailey: Pageants are a passion of mine. I enjoy the hobby and love to see all the hard work each contestant does show as they shine on stage.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Toddlers and Tiaras is Back! Recap of Season 7, Episode 1

Toddlers and Tiaras is back on TLC after its long hiatus! We were brought back in as kids get collagen sprays, hypnosis and all kinds of other crazy things.

We met Cambrie first, and she's the coach of Cambrie's Court. She's been in pageants since the age of two. She says that she's so into pageants, she can't hold a boyfriend.

Cambrie's up against Jaimie's squad, the Sassy Supremes. Jaimie, like Cambrie, says it's impossible to win pageants without a coach these days. She competed in pageants until the age of 18, at which time she began coaching. She said either she or Cambrie's girls win most titles, so the competition between the pair is fierce.

This week was Tonya Bailey's Jungle Supreme Pageant in Louisiana. It's the first pageant of the season (and there are pageants weekly), and all of the big coaching groups will be represented.

The first kid we met was in Gilbert, AZ. Her name is Kallyn, who's 4 years old. Her mom, Megan, seemed like a lot of fun - she said her little lion was going to win the jungle pageant, then burst out laughing. Although Kallyn was sick, all of the pageant fees had been paid, so they were still going. Megan says Kallyn's advantage is that she looks like the quintessential pageant queen: blond hair, big smile, etc.

Jaimie, Kallyn's coach, showed up at Megan's home. Jaimie said that she charges $55 an hour or $30 for half an hour, which is the most reasonable she knows of, but she wants everyone to have a chance. Kallyn sees Jaimie at least once, if not twice, a week for coaching. Kallyn also had extensions, tanning, and loads of costumes....leading up to the most expensive pageant Kallyn's ever been in, at $2,500.

The second child featured was Selyse, 3 years old, in Pheonix, AZ. Her mom is named Kim. They're part of Jaimie's group. Kim's income pays for pageants, and she's actually put off dental work so can pay for pageants instead. Kim said Selyse always takes home a supreme title. Kim felt unprepared with the work Jaimie has done for her, and felt like she wasn't getting enough attention.

In Benbrook, TX, we met Lilly, a 4 year old. Amber, her mom, said Lilly has won most of her thirty-five pageants. Amber designed a $1,000 dress for the upcoming pageant. Amber's husband is only home one week a month because of his job, and Amber realizes that she and her family make sacrifices so Amber can have what she needs.

Lilly's on Cambrie's team, and Cambrie noted that Lilly can be a great kid, but can also be a terror at times. Cambrie costs $175 per class. Cambrie said she charges more than Jaimie because she helps more, and that Jaimie's probably jealous of her.

Cambrie brought her team together to prepare for the jungle pageant. She likes to take around 5 to 8 girls to a pageant so they can claim all the big titles.

Finally, we met Jacquelynne, 5, and mom Sylvia. This was Cambrie's first time meeting Jacquelynne - she does her normal coaching via Skype. Though they live in Louisiana, they work with Cambrie because they say she's the best. Sylvia says they've been criticized by family and friends for their pageant participation, but people don't understand that Jacquelynne's not in pageant wear every day - this is just like dress up.

Cambrie had actress/acting coach Dallas Lovato (Demi's sister) come in to help the girls. She and Demi both started out in pageants. She had the girls become the animal characters they'd be playing in the pageant.

Cambrie had a confrontation with a girl named Jayliana and her mom, Deb, who didn't want her wearing a cheerleader bow because she's not a cheerleader. Cambrie stood firm - the girls need to match. In the end, Jayliana and her mom left.

In Tempe, AZ, Jaimie brought her team in public to perform so they could build confidence. Jaimie chose to bring two of the twenty girls she coaches to the jungle pageant, because she chooses quality over quantity. Jaimie was frustrated by Selyse's lack of practice and her mom, Kim's, defense of it.

The Pageant

We got a tough talk from Tonya Bailey, letting us know that not everyone will win, you're paying for an opinion, and a pageant win is not that serious. It bothers her when a mom wants to win more than a kid does.

Jaimie tried to prepare Selyse, who was feeling clingy towards her mom. Kim said it's because Selyse is picking up on her stress. As the three year olds got called on, Selyse was still preparing. Kim had to run her downstairs. As the episode ended, we weren't sure if Selyse would get to go on because she was late.

Now Toddlers and Tiaras stretches over more than one episode! Next time, we'll see issues with Lilly's music and all kinds of other drama. I can't wait!

Monday, August 22, 2016

90 Day Fiance - Season 4, Episode 1 - Season Premiere

90 Day Fiance is back! It's crazier than ever.  A couple who's never met, a woman who was catfished but wants to marry her fiance anyway, a guy who spent $70K on the woman he's seeing...this season is going to be great!

We first met Nicole and Azan. Nicole is 22, from Florida, and has a two year old daughter named May. When she turned 18, she moved to Texas to be with the guy she'd been dating. When she got pregnant, the relationship ended. Six months before the show was filmed, Azan messaged Nicole, and the rest is history. She was attracted to his body and great looks. She realized he lived in Morocco, but didn't know where it was. Nicole felt a strong connection, and they started talking about marriage three weeks in. He asked her to marry him, despite the fact that they'd never met. In order to get a K-1 visa, you have to have met your fiance, so Nicole was flying out to Morocco for five weeks, and this is the longest she'd been away from her daughter.

Nicole's family gathered before she left for Morocco. The family doesn't support her choice to visit Azan but they seemed to support her. Her father, step-mother, mother and step-father seemed to be worried about things like human trafficking, as well as Nicole's lack of knowledge about going to a primarily Muslim country.

Chantel and Pedro were next. Chantel, 25, is from Atlanta, Georgia. She's been a cheerleader since she was four, and she teaches cheerleading. She lives at home with her close-knit family. She's at community college pursuing a degree in nursing. A friend introduced her to Pedro, from the Dominican Republic, so she could learn Spanish and he could learn English. There was instant attraction, so Chantel visited him. On the third trip, he proposed. She was thrilled because Pedro treats her like a princess, which is different than the American relationships she's experienced.

Chantel's parents don't know they're engaged. She thought her parents would flip if they realized Pedro was coming on a K-1 visa

Chantel got her own place to share with Pedro. Chantel's mom was supportive but encouraged Chantel to focus on herself and her studies. Chantel's mom was happy that Pedro was just in the US to study - or so she believed. She made it clear that Pedro must start working when he's here - he better not be here to use Chantel.

Chantel dressed up and was so excited to meet Pedro at the airport. Though his plane landed, he wasn't on it - he had landed in Florida and wasn't at her airport. Chantel didn't know why he wasn't there, and she cried with disappointment. She considered that she may have created a fantasy world, rather than reality.

Jorge, 26 from Los Angeles, was next. His fiance is Anfisa. He is an entrepreneur in the medical marijuana industry. It provides him with a six figure income without a 9-5 job, and has potential to make him a millionaire if marijuana is legalized. He's had bad experiences with dating, as he thinks women are feminists, and instead wants a woman who wants to be taken care of and not compete with him. His fiance is from Russia. When she flew to Spain to study, Jorge flew out to meet her, and they'd spent about a month of face time together.

Their relationship is great, according to Jorge, but they fight a lot. Their current fight is that Anfisa wants a $10,000 purse and Jorge would prefer to save some money. However, he'd spoiled her in the past (spending $70,000 since they began dating) and continued to do so.

Jorge had secrets he was afraid to tell Anfisa, and was worried that they'll affect their relationship.

Anfisa hadn't returned Jorge's calls since the purse issue, even though he was due to fly to Russia. She then, using his Apple ID and password, erased his phone. CRAZY! She emailed him and told him to cancel his flight. And she then changed his email password. EXTRA, SUPER CRAZY. And why did she have his passwords?!? WHAT?

Jorge met with his sister, Lourdes, and niece, Cassandra, to talk about how he'd be going to Russia to get his fiance. There was concern about her photos looking fake. Jorge explained that he's head over heels for her, and the marriage has to be fast. Jorge's family saw the red flags about the purse debate mentioned above, especially because Anfisa's goal is admittedly to stay home, do housework and shop.  They supported Jorge if this is what he wanted, but warned of lessons learned.

Matt, 43, runs his family's car dealership. He's been married three times. He fell fast for people, which doesn't work well - he was cheated on in his first and third relationships. This gives him a lot of baggage and made it hard to meet people. He specifically looked in Eastern Europe for a date, and there he found Alla, 30, from Kiev. He fell for her and accepted her son Max, 7. He proposed, and Alla and Max will be moving to the states.

Matt worried about Max's reaction and how it can affect their relationship. Matt discussed Alla with his friends and family members at the car dealership. They were concerned because his life falls apart with each divorce. Patrick, one of  Matt's friends at the dealership, refused to support Matt even though the others respected his decision.

As the season progresses, it looks like Nicole will have some trouble with acceptance (Azan didn't realize she was bigger), Chantel's fantasy will break into pieces and we'll meet another couple.

That was it for episode 1 of 90 Day Fiance - I can't wait for more!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Biological Clock Web Series: Reality Meets Scripted Series

There's a new web series that brings us behind the scenes of the lives of single New Yorkers. The series, called Biological Clock, came from the mind of insightful and talented Jamie Mittleman, who created the series and stars as main character Julia.

The show gives us a raw look into the world of dating, including the unflattering moments, because it's based on true experiences. Spending hours upon hours talking to people, Mittleman interviewed friends, colleagues and strangers to find out about their experiences, nightmares, fears and successes in the world of dating. She blends these stories beautifully to create the worlds of her cast members.

Featuring raw humor and honest confessions, Mittleman tackles both gay and straight relationships, and gives us messages that some people really need to hear - sometimes, you need to change your dating style or you're going to continue to go nowhere. And a second date does not mean an impending marriage proposal, so while you can dream, jumping in too fast can do more harm than good.

One of the best parts of the series is Mittleman's take on human interaction. You can truly feel the discomfort of the characters' encounters with others. The show captures the intentional awkwardness that has been done so well on mainstream sitcoms like The Office (hello, Michael Scott!). Plus, the dialogue rings true with what we've all told ourselves and hoped to believe it: "I'm not alone. I have a blanket and peanut butter."

Want to check out the web series? Take a look here and let us know what you think.