Showtime At The Apollo needs no Simon Cowell —the audience will serve as the harshest judge.
On March 1, the beloved talent search show returned to television with comedian/host Steve Harvey and television talk show host/singer Adrienne Bailon at the helm.
In addition to including the Harlem's theater's iconic Apollo Amateur Night —where fresh acts perform for a vocal crowd—, the FOX show will also have performances from major artists like Pitbull.
"There is nothing like a New York audience that just keeps it raw and real," Bailon told ESSENCE. "I know, because I'm a native New Yorker. We tell it like it is. What I love most is that it's not about saying that you're not talented. It's just saying, 'We weren't feeling you.' It actually toughens up these acts to actually be in this industry."
We talked to the Emmy-nominated co-host of The Real about the beloved talent show, being a newlywed and how she's dealt with all those Tamar Braxton rumors. Check out our chat below.
How will this rendition of 'Showtime At The Apollo' differ from the past?
It's got a little twist this time around. I love the fact that this time around, you actually get to find out who these people are. What's their story? What drives them? That's the role I play, which is so much fun. It's what I love to do. I love loving people and getting to know them. Just hearing people's life stories of what led them to this place when they're actually about to get on the stage is awesome.
What is your position on Time's Up and how is it changing the landscape of Hollywood?
I think it's incredibly important that you feel that, one, that you're not alone. Two, you don't have to go through that silently anymore. I think the fact that there's so much awareness now, that we're speaking about it. That now it's like, "Wait. That happened to me", or, "That's happening to me currently, and I don't have to stand for this. This is absolutely unacceptable"
I think the other thing is, we need to put some fear in some of these men. "Don't try me". I think it makes people think before they act. Think before you tell a dirty joke that you may think is funny but may make somebody else uncomfortable. Think before you touch somebody a certain way. Respect their space. But I think those boundaries now being set in the workplace are so important, and the conversation is so important. I'm so happy that we can be a part of this movement and a part of the voices that can't be heard.
What were your thoughts about Tamar Braxton's interview on The View where she said she no longer talks to her former co-hosts on The Real, including you?
I think it's important to recognize that we've always chosen to be positive and to maintain sisterhood empowerment. That's what the show's about, and that's what it will continue to be about. I think that not speaking about it says that in itself.
As a Puerto Rican-Ecuadorian-American what are your thoughts on the devastation in Puerto Rico and how the current administration is dealing with the crisis in communities of color?
It's insane. It's absolutely insane. As much as I want to scream and complain about Puerto Rico, there are so many issues all around. We haven't done anything for Flint, Michigan either. You know what I'm saying?
I think it's important that the same way that I expect for people to stand up for Puerto Rico that aren't Puerto Rican is the same way I expect for Puerto Ricans to stand up for Flint, Michigan. You understand what I'm saying?
It's a human issue. It's not a, "Oh, are you really American? Or are you not?" It's a human issue, and we should care about one another in that way. I think that it's important to continue to get the message out there. To let people know that the funding is getting cut. To let people know that there's 68 percent of the island that still doesn't have power. There are people without clean drinking water, bathing water. It is so important to get the message out there, and that even though it's not popular right now in news, that we not forget about these people. Like, no one talks about Flint, Michigan anymore. It's important to me so much that, one, I came out with a Christmas album this last Christmas, and 100 percent of the proceeds went towards Puerto Rico. Rebuilding Puerto Rico. Gifting it to the Global Gift Foundation with Ricky Martin, who's doing on the ground work in Puerto Rico.
I also just did something for Facebook called Do Or Dare. It was me actually, funny enough, against Mel B from the Spice Girls. I actually won $25,000, again to give back to them. My family and I are actually working again with Steve Harvey. We just did Family Feud. If we win that —which I can't tell you if we won yet—but I was playing with my family on Celebrity Family Feud with Steve Harvey for the Global Gift Foundation, again to give back to Puerto Rico. I'm on a mission to continue to do what I have to do, and I just love the support that we continue to feel.
With everything you have going on are you planning to expand your family with Isreal [Houghton, husband]?
We have been saying that. I mean, ideally, it would be awesome for it to happen sometime around the summer. Mainly because work-wise, I'd be on hiatus, and that would be awesome.