Buzz is building around "Harlem Heights," BET's new reality series that explores the lives of eight ambitious, young African-Americans living in New York City. The plot? Each member is trying to figure out life's complexities while aspiring to meet their own goals. Christian Grant-Fields is a lifestyle editor for the basketball magazine "Dime," graduate of Morehouse College and a die-hard Jay-Z fan. Grant shares his one regret with ESSENCE.com that he'll have to explain to his grandmother, confesses what he took for granted and what he wants Black America to learn from the show.
ESSENCE.COM: So what made you step up to the plate to lose your anonymity?
CHRISTIAN GRANT-FIELDS: I really don't watch a lot of reality television, but every time I do there's no one that I can relate to. So I figured this will be an opportunity where I know someone's probably feeling like me in another state. I wanted to finally give people like myself something that they can kind of get a little personal with as far as on television.
ESSENCE.COM: Who's your favorite cast member?
FIELDS: I don't really have a favorite, but I've known all of them. We are all cool. I have a unique relationship with each person. Pierre and I are really close. Brooke and I are very, very close. Bridget is like my advice person. I ask her for advice on everything. Me and Briana have our inside jokes. I knew people before the show. People think New York is a big city, but after awhile it's one degree of separation. I went to school with Bridget and grew up with Landon. Me and Pierre played ball together. Brooke lives down the street. Ashlie lives two blocks over on the same street with me. It's just like we are all around each other.
ESSENCE.COM: Did you have any apprehensions about doing a reality show? Is there anything you avoided doing for fear of being perceived in a negative light?
FIELDS: I have a few tattoos and my grandmother doesn't know about one of them, so she's going to see it. The tattoo is going from collar bone to collar bone. I will have to explain that to her. She's probably going to ask, "What are you in a motorcycle gang now?" (Laughs.) I don't have any regrets at all, except not telling my grandmother about the tattoo.
ESSENCE.COM: So what do you hope viewers will learn or take from watching the show?
FIELDS: I hope they see that there's a large group of African-Americans of young men and women who are doing their thing. Bridget is in law school. Brooke's a producer. Briana's a fashion designer. Pierre works for a nonprofit. There's just so much stuff that's going on. I hope they get to see a group of young intelligent African-Americans trying to succeed here in New York.
Check out "Harlem Heights" tonight on BET at 10 P.M. PT/ET