Gone are the docile, congenial housewives of yesteryear. Far from desperate, Lisa Wu Hartwell, who is married to NFL player Ed Hartwell, is a hustler. She owns a real estate firm, Hartwell & Associates, a jewelry line called Wu Girls, a children’s clothing line, Hart 2 Hart Baby, and juggles a budding acting, modeling and writing career. She’s also mommy to 13-year-old Jordan, 10-year-old Justin and 1-year-old EJ.
ESSENCE.COM: Dramality TV can be tough on a sister’s reputation. What inspired you to do this?
LISA WU HARTWELL: Honestly, I thought it was a great platform for all of my businesses. I discussed it with my husband, Ed, and we both agreed that you can’t pay for that kind of advertising. The cost would be astronomical, [but by doing this] the exposure will be astounding.
ESSENCE.COM: There has been a lot of criticism about the cast and the fact that not all of the women are housewives. Did you have any apprehensions about putting your personal life out there?
WU HARTWELL: It didn’t dawn on me until the preview was about to air. I thought, Oh my God! What have you done? You’ve opened yourself up to millions of people. But I must say I liked the preview. Regarding the criticism, I believe everyone is entitled to their opinions. I could easily respond with a negative comment or thought because I’m human, but I can’t really worry about what the masses are thinking of me, because either you like me or you don’t. There are a lot of hateful people out there, and being on a show like this, you might have to become the sacrificial lamb. Unfortunately, for a lot of folk, negativity is entertaining, but I had a great time with the women. We still chat, and they’re hysterical. At the end of the day, you have arguments and there’s drama, but we definitely had a good time.
ESSENCE.COM: Black women often get the bad rap when they appear on these reality shows. Do you think you came off as an ABW (Angry Black Woman)?
WU HARTWELL: You know it’s crazy because there are always double standards when Black women are angry or upset. It’s more tolerated from White women, and I’m not racist because I’m half Asian, but let a White girl curse someone out and the reaction is like, ‘That’s great and exciting!’Another example is Hugh Hefner; he’s considered the man because he has playboy bunnies, but if you get a Black guy who does the same thing, then he’s a pimp and his girls are considered “hoes.” It’s a crazy stereotype and double standard.
ESSENCE.COM: Sad, but true. Was there ever a moment that the cameras felt too intrusive?
WU HARTWELL: I’m used to cameras being around because I hosted an entertainment show called “The Industry,” but opening up your home to millions of viewers who will be able to see everything you’re going through is another thing. There was a moment where I got sick and had a 104-degree fever. The cameras were still rolling! I’m like, are you kidding me? The hardest thing about shooting this show was that I didn’t get to see my kids. I have three boys, but my 13-year-old son from a previous relationship isn’t on the show because his father wouldn’t sign the waiver to allow him on.
ESSENCE.COM: Since living under the microscope, what’s the one self-discovery you’ve made?
WU HARTWELL: I might need to relax and have fun. The perception might be that all I do is work and that I’m a little hyper and could use a sedative. People always have a hard time believing I’m from the South because I move and talk so quickly. I could definitely stand to unwind a little, but I’m always working. My family knows that I’m driven. I’m always bouncing off the walls and folk must be thinking, This girl is crazy! My husband will say, ‘Baby, slow down,’ and I need that sometimes. But my hope is that when women watch this show, they’ll recognize that you can speak your goals and dreams into existence. If you’re passionate about something, don’t fail to prepare—make it happen!