We’re not huge reality TV fans — ok Shannon religiously follows “Real Housewives of New Jersey” and I just want Toya to win but we digress. We tuned into “Money Hungry” to support our girl Shanté Gordon-Armstrong who also happens to be a beloved Parlour fashion model. Unfortunately, Shanté was eliminated from the show this week, but now we can ask her about her reality TV cast member experience (said in “Twilight Zone” voice). Did the Vh1 staff stuff the “Money Hungry” cast with donuts and expect them to still lose weight? Did they confiscate Shanté’s cellphone and except her to continue breathing normally? Parlour investigates.
PARLOUR: Welcome to reality TV stardom! Was your partner Jamie really just trying to kick start her modeling career like the hating ‘Money Hungry’ contestants said? Btw, we’re mad she got you kicked off by crying in the hot tub.
Shanté Gordon: LOL! Thanks for the support! But honestly regardless of what stunts she pulled it came down to weight loss and we missed it by a pound. No, Jamie wasn’t trying to kick-start her career like the other contestants thought. We are both plus models and had worked as such prior to the show. Our intention was to get on the show and compete but of course we knew having national exposure could definitely help our creative endeavors.
Jamie and I met through our affiliation with a plus-size performance group a few years ago. We were both dancers in a group we likened to the plus-size pussycat dolls. The group is now defunct (creative differences between the lead singer and the producer) but we maintained contact and did a few modeling gigs together.
We see that you’re married, what did your husband say about you joining the reality show?
Yes I am married to the wonderful photographer Mr. Tony Armstrong. My husband rocks because he supports me like no one else can. Everyone was like, ‘how are you leaving Tony for so long?’ But he never said ‘don’t go.’ He told me every chance he got that he would miss me but he knew it was something I had to experience.
We’re sorry about the loss of your husband’s grandmother, did they allow you to leave for the funeral?
Thank you for your condolences. Honestly, I felt so bad for not being there for him when everything happened. Add to it the fact that I missed our first anniversary because of the show and you can image how awful I felt. I told him I would come home if he needed me to but he told me to stay. As it turns out, we got eliminated so I was able to make it to the memorial service.
What’s being on a reality show like, do they lock you in a room without Internet or a computer and steal your cellphone?
Being on a reality show is surreal! You know it’s happening, since your mic-ed all day and there’s constantly a camera in your face, but it feels like you’re in another world. Especially considering there are no TVs or cell phones or computers. They do provide a phone for you to call family but they tape those conversations so you have to be careful. You’re forced to interact with people who you might not normally give a second thought to in regular life. Everyone lives in a house, fraternity-style and tries to manage the various personalities as best they can. I liken it to being put in a pressure cooker with the heat being turned up gradually.
What was the food like? Did the staff pack the fridge with tempting foods or healthy ones to help your weight loss journey?
The pantry was stocked with a variety of foods, both good and bad. That’s the rub… you had the choice to eat whatever you wanted. They gave us basic nutritional guidelines, but it was up to you to figure what combination of food worked for your desired weight loss.
As a Parlour fashion model, do you think “Money Hungry” will bring full-figured fashion and representation to the fore-front?
I’m using “Money Hungry” as a platform to help me spread the message of size diversity in media. We need to see more people in fashion, advertising, TV, film, music, new media who reflect the population.
There was a scene in the show’s beginning when the bus carrying the “Money Hungry” cast tried to drive up the hill to the house, but failed because of their collective weight. The producers played the incident like a joke. Was that scene staged?
That stunt with the bus at the beginning of the first show was definitely staged. That bus wasn’t going to make it up that incline regardless of who was onboard! I thought it was funny. I mean, come on, it is Vh1.
Do you think the show is a positive depiction of full-figured folks or another attempt to make a joke?
What I like about the show is that the contestants know they are big but they don’t let it cramp their style too much. I’m not saying they make light of it, they just aren’t the “woe is me” type of people. We all know that there are health concerns that come with carrying additional weight but we don’t let the extra weight stop us from living our lives. Now, some of the editing and sound effects are obviously for comedic effect but we had an idea what we were getting into. Again, you’re talking about a weight loss show on Vh1, something was going to be slightly degrading about it. That’s why I didn’t act up. I wasn’t going to give the producers any opportunity to paint me in a nasty light. Of course, as a result, I didn’t get as much airtime but being a Vh1 Reality TV Star isn’t my end goal.
How has being on the show affected your lifestyle?
Being on “Money Hungry” was one of the best things that’s happened in my life so far. It was life changing in that it allowed me the opportunity to press pause on my life and take time to really focus on myself and my relationship with food and exercise. I was able to put in place a lifestyle change that Iâ€™d been meaning to implement for years. I feel like a switch was flipped and my life is becoming clearer.
Plan to be on any other reality shows?
No I don’t plan on being on any other reality shows, at least not for the time being. Technically, I can’t contractually but that’s a whole different story. Right now, I just want to share my experience and new-found knowledge with everyone, especially young women who feel like no one understands what it’s like to struggle with weight.
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