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From Reality TV Star To Executive Producer: Joseline Hernandez’s Career Pivot Is One To Watch

Joseline Hernandez is here to stay.

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Whether you like it or not, Joseline Hernandez is here to stay. For nearly a decade, the self-proclaimed Puerto Rican Princess has claimed her throne as reality TV royalty, captivating viewers with her on-screen antics and infectious off-screen persona. Since parting ways from her veteran-run on VH1's acclaimed show, Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta, Joseline has since transitioned into running a show of her own, launching season 2 of her highly anticipated production, Joseline's Cabaret on Zeus Network.

Since its premiere, the controversial, high-action series has garnered a groundswell of online attention from its instant-viral moments. Following the shocking "Double Homicide" comment, along with Joseline's recent appearance on the Wendy Williams Show where she self-advocated for more respect on her name, the show displays all the qualities of must-watch TV.

Courtesy of Joseline Hernandez

Joseline's latest endeavors mark a pivot in her long-standing career, highlighting her ability to turn her past hurdles as a teen-runaway turned stripper — to now mother, fiance, and showrunner — as a feat worth celebrating. Although her path has been unconventional, it's one that's been carved out by resilience and a whole lot of hustle; and she doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon.

For xoNecole, Joseline spoke candidly about what to expect from the new season of her hit show, Joseline's Cabaret, why she's making space for women in the sex work industry, and how she's taking her career back into her own hands.

​xoNecole: You've been open about your childhood and being a runaway at just 14 years old. Looking back, how did being independent at such a young age help you become the woman you are today?

Joseline Hernandez: How I started out life was so dramatic, it made me want to figure out a way to cut that tail. You're like, "I don't want to be here, I have to figure out what I want to do with my life." When I was 21-22, I figured out that I wanted to do something like Joseline's Cabaret. I used to be a stripper, I always wanted to entertain. When I was 21, I realized, "I can entertain, I'm about to do this." I didn't have it easy like Beyoncé or Rihanna or any of the other girls who had help from their parents. I did it all by myself.

When you're 21, you're still a teenager. People think you're grown but you're not. Me not having help and having to struggle, I said to myself, "One day, you're gonna be somebody, you're gonna make it. Those dreams that you had as a child, you didn't forget them, and since you didn't forget them, you must fight to get them." And that's what I did.

That's why I think I was able to break the spell for me and my daughter. Moving forward in life and carrying that torch, I was able to do it for my last name and for my family's blood, Hernandez, and I was able to change the future. It came with a lot of pain and suffering, but I made it happen.

"I said to myself, 'One day, you're gonna be somebody, you're gonna make it. Those dreams that you had as a child, you didn't forget them, and since you didn't forget them, you must fight to get them.' And that's what I did."

Courtesy of Joseline Hernandez

Instead of being a victim of your circumstance you’ve been victorious in shifting your story. What was the shift in your mindset that you hope to pass down to the women in your Cabaret?

JH: It's always a decision that's going to make you a better person. I always make a decision to stop doing something that's not good for me, and I never go back. For the ladies at the Cabaret, they really have to make sure that what they do moving forward, is the best decision. And that's how you're going to become great: it's always that one decision that's going to take you to the next level.

Could you take us through the moment when you decided you wanted to make the pivot from 'Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta' to create and executive produce a show of your own?


JH: When you're working for another person for a few years, you realize that everything you were giving to that person, you can give it to yourself. I stayed with LAHHA for six years, but there came a point where I was like, "I'm a mother, it's time for me to do something for myself. What can do that's going to change everything in my life and my daughter's future?" And that was to finally create my passion which was Joseline's Cabaret. To finally put that together was all I ever wanted. I felt like I didn't need to keep doing LAHHA because I needed to do something for me.

​Courtesy of Joseline Hernandez 

You’ve gone from being the star talent on 'LAHHA' to being the producer of your own show. Is there anything that you gleaned during your time working with Mona Scott Young that you aim to do differently in your own productions?

JH: What makes me different is that the ladies know who I am and I know who they are. I don't have to do fake and phony stuff because I know what's real. I really didn't have to produce any of the ladies this season, because they know what they came to do. It's a competition, four ladies get to perform at the Cabaret and get $10,000, so there's no production there. Everyone has their own energy and their own attitude. And I think that's what makes me different, I don't have to lie to kick it.

Courtesy of Joseline Hernandez

There is a lot of discussion around positive representation for Black women and WOC on reality TV, what do you say to folks who may not fully see the vision behind ‘Joseline’s Cabaret’ in helping these ladies make a positive change in their lives?

JH: By the end of the season, they'll understand the whole purpose. I'm just putting the show together, I can't tell the ladies how to act. You can't produce 20 fights in one night, nobody's that lucky. This is real life, it's organic. I can be kumbaya all day, but they're gonna do what they're gonna do and I gotta let them rock. The first whole week, the ladies were going crazy, but I got them together. So it gets better.

You say that if you didn’t have your daughter, Bonnie Bella, that you wouldn’t be the woman you are today if it wasn’t for her. In what ways has motherhood changed you?

JH: When you have a baby, you want them to be strong, smart, and healthy. When you put your focus into that, it makes you a better person. Becoming a mother allowed me to become the best version of myself. When you bring somebody into the world you want to be the best version of yourself so you can teach them everything you didn't learn.

For new episodes of Joseline's Cabaret, tune in every Sunday on Zeus Network. Follow Joseline Hernandez @joseline.

Featured image courtesy of Joseline Hernandez

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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