Recently, the Sentinel caught up with producer, host and reality star of TV One’s latest hit show The Next :15, Karamo Brown. Brown, who was the first openly gay black male to be cast on MTV’s The Real World: Philadelphia circa 2004, is certainly not new to reality, but says the transition was quite interesting the second time around. “No one really knew who I was because I had been on reality television 10 years ago,” Brown said. “We live in a time now where you need something to sort of push you over the edge, something that’s going to put you in the mainstream where you can start getting those bigger checks,” Brown stated.
As for Brown’s return, he says that one of the more difficult parts of reality television is the fighting, arguing and bickering. “I don’t really live my life like that so it was hard for me to not see grown people be able to squash a beef and move on. But if they did squash it, it wouldn’t be reality TV so, there it is,” Brown commented.
When asked about Brown’s relationship with the cast, he says he has a good relationship with everyone and is often the go-to guy to discuss issues amongst the group. As far as Brown’s thoughts on the wildly entertaining antics of co-star New York, Brown says “that New York can put on a show literally and figuratively and it’s good for us on a reality show because she gets good ratings,” “It’s a bit to deal with it real life,” he continued.
Brown, who is also a single father, shared that a big part of coming on the show was to change the narrative that black men don’t take care of their children. “Take away the gay part, take away any of that. I know so many black men who step up to the plate to support their family and their children, but somehow the media has perpetuated us as these men who get a woman pregnant and then leave, and that’s just not the case,” Brown stated.
Brown, who has worked for top TV networks such as CNN, the Oprah Winfrey Network and HLN, says he’s already benefited greatly from the show, recently landing a gig with Access Hollywood Live. “I’ve also just sold my first television show with Dr. Drew Pinsky. “We’re both clinicians. He’s a doctor and I have a Master’s in Social Work in psychotherapy,” Brown stated of the show, which will dive deep into family dynamics.
In conversation about how he aspires to inspire people of color, Brown says it’s important for the black community to support each other. “To be a true leader, a true boss, you have to create, do your own and create jobs for others. I’m still in that space where I understand the hunger and the drive. I understand that when it comes down to it, it’s going to be my community to support my show and my community to step up,” Brown stated.
“In this industry we represent 5%, Asians represent 1% and you think that I’m going to put my faith and value in the white entertainment executives that think that I have value? I partnered with a white man but I’ve done the work,” Brown continued. “If I’ve done what Oprah and Byron Allen are doing in creating these multimedia platforms, then I can create jobs and get more black people work,” he declared.
When asked if Brown would do the show again he says “hell yeah”. Carlos King [Next :15 executive producer] is a genius and I trust him so much.” Brown says he loves that the show explores the fourth wall of media, and is excited about continuing his journey as a host and producer with a second crack at reality television.