Tonight, new reality show Preachers of L.A. debuts on Oxygen. The first episode hasn't even aired, but critics and naysayers are already up in arms over the fact that some of America's most prominent Black preachers will allow reality TV cameras inside their homes and churches.
Aware of the possible backlash and controversy, which unfortunately seems inevitable, minister and singer Deitrick Haddon signed on to the show's cast anyway. ESSENCE.com caught up with Haddon to see just why he agreed to allow cameras into his life and to get the details on his impending clash (as seen in commercials) with Bishop Clarence McClendon.
ESSENCE.com: Knowing the climate of reality TV shows, why did you agree to do the show?
DEITRICK HADDON: You can't live your life according to what has been or what has passed. It's up to you to redefine the situation. I definitely knew there was a negative history on reality shows. But I knew that this show would kind of change the game because it's about preachers. Preachers are people who have a certain standard about themselves and they are people of integrity. Especially the guys that were hand picked for this show.
ESSENCE.com: We see in the first episode, and in the trailer for the rest of the season, that you'll be touching on your divorce from you first marriage. How do you think people will react to learning more details?
HADDON: Millions of people have gone through that, and I certainly won't be the last. I think the public will understand it, especially those who have been divorced before. Once someone tells you their story, you have to either respect it or keep it pushing. If people have anything negative to say about it, I really don't have any energy towards that. You have to walk in my shoes in order to understand the decisions that I've made.
ESSENCE.com: In the first episode we see you bump heads with Bishop Clarence McClendon. Will you continue to do so throughout the season?
HADDON: I don't want to give the show away! But, I'm very outspoken. Every guy on the show is a strong, opinionated leader. So there will be a lot of clashing going on because it's just the way it is. People that are preachers understand—we do that all the time. We get together and we debate over biblical topics, social topics, anything that we have to deal with in our churches. Sometimes it gets heated. Sometimes everybody's cool. But everyone comes away with a strong opinion. There is an element of drama in the show—but we all do it with integrity.
ESSENCE.com: What do you say to critics that say the church and reality TV don't mix?
HADDON: I'll say they don't read their Bible. The Bible is a reality show. You should see the stories about Paul. Before he became Saul, he was a murderer. David was a fornicator. He messed up, but he was still anointed by God. The Bible shows you the truth about every man of God. It shows you everything about them. The Bible is real. I think [reality TV] is the perfect place for Christians.
ESSENCE.com: The ladies of The Sisterhood came under fire for some of their conduct on the show. Are you worried about catching similar heat?
HADDON: No, man! I've been under fire since I started in the game a long time ago. When I didn't have no dirt on my name, and I was squeaky clean, people had something to say. Church folk will always have something to say. I got tough skin when it comes to that. My music has always been different—I've been fought since day one. I've developed a certain shield to that. I know how to survive beyond people's strong opinions and critics. I think at the end of the day, people's opinions don't change the facts.