The Dallas Examiner
A flourishing relationship or a prospering business? Black women encounter this life tug-of-war everyday as society forces women to choose between being the wife and mother who dedicates her life to the dreams of her husband or the successful businesswoman and “old maid.”
Self-Made Sistas, a non-scripted reality YouTube show, tackles this topic by showcasing the lives of five single African American women and one African American male trying to run blossoming businesses while balancing their dating and personal lives in Dallas County.
“A self-made sista is how you individually define yourself, and you don’t put a price tag on that,” said Candace May, show creator and producer. “It’s a woman who is really self-confident in who she is.”
The show depicts the stories of everyday business women in relatable and believable situations, rather than celebrities living lavish lifestyles.
“A lot of the people you see on TV, you already recognize them from somewhere. These people are not [recognized],” said Self-Made Sistas director Celeste Celeste. “These people are on this journey on real time, so you get to really see them grow and show what a self-made sista is.”
The show premiered Dec. 12 on YouTube with an episode full of blindsiding drama and theatrical moments displayed by the eclectic cast.
Immediately from the first episode, viewers will be able to tell who fits what typecast. First, there is Cedric “King Cain” Cain, who is the youngest and off-the-bat, the adrenaline of the show.
The fashion stylist, who has styled for UK celebrity hairstylist Jamie Birmingham and Bad Girls Club reality star Seven, is in almost every scene making a name for himself and bringing a different perspective from the Black LGBT community.
When watching, viewers are either going to love King Cain for his unique personality or hate him for it, and the show does a great job in leaving it up to them.
“I just want people to know that I am a very nice person,” he said at the show launch party Dec. 9. “I might act a certain way. Once the fire is ignited, it just keeps going until it is put out, especially if I am not in the wrong. To know me is to love me.”
Then, there is Anita Bell, U.S. Postal Service customer service manager, whose strength may intimidate others.
“Being a secure Black woman and handling yourself in a professional manner – sure, there may be things that are said to you, but it’s all about having tough skin,” Bell said.
Her straightforwardness becomes the centerpiece of the first half of the inaugural episode after a controversial text message in a group chat stirs up trouble with King Cain and supporting cast member Melony. While the situation was petty, Bell didn’t back down when confronted by two people.
However, aside from the show’s drama, there is a lightheartedness within the series. Cast member Felicia Bell-Carger – author of Hips, Lips, Eyes and Thighs – appears to play a positive role in the show and is never scared to bust out in prayer in the middle of the park at a picnic, and Jocelyn, another one of the younger cast members, has scatterbrained moments that bring a slight comic relief and chuckle-worthy confusion.
One character that could easily be a favorite is Meleka McGee, chef and owner of Electric Flavor. She is a single mother and entrepreneur from a small town that left a five-year relationship, a story that many women have lived through and may gravitate to as they watch and live vicariously through her.
“I have a testimony, and it’s not mine,” McGee said. “[Self-Made Sistas] is a platform to do my God-given assignment to tell my story and let people know that there is a way out.”
The first webisode was a good effort and enough to make you want to watch more, not for the drama per se, but to better understand the characters. For instance, cast member Linda Henderson, founder of Henderson’s Chicken, didn’t have a scene showing who she was, which would have been great to see, especially for Black Dallas viewers who are very familiar with Henderson’s.
The show doesn’t come without a few more negatives – with the biggest one being the audio. Although this is an independent production, the poor quality of the sound slightly hurts the show.
There were times when some of the casts’ voices were low or somewhat muffled, and there were times when their shouts were too loud. There is a lot of cutting the computer volume up and down in one motion.
Also, there were moments where clarity was needed. I didn’t understand the scene between show director Celeste Celeste and Meleka McGee, and it appeared very staged. It may have been better to have a scene showing McGee after a long day of working or her showcasing her chef skills a little bit to better go along with her cut scenes.
On top of that, there was a final scene involving a huge debacle between former cast member Melony and the producers and cast. May removed Melony’s audio clips and instead allowed the cast members to narrate the altercation to keep the show from being seen in a negative light, which was understandable.
However, hearing Melony’s side when she was pulled to the side by King Cain would have balanced the scene and allowed viewers to make their own assumptions about Melony’s outburst rather than the cast giving it to them. The audience should hear it from the horse’s mouth. Don’t tell them how bad it was; let them see and hear it for themselves and make their own inference.
Overall, Self-Made Sistas’ premiere episode receives a 3.5 out of 5 stars. It’s interesting to watch and will keep your attention.