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Interview: Reality TV won't be the downfall of Tami Roman

Luis Gomez

About Last Night

8:15 AM CST, March 5, 2014

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Tami Roman is taking responsibility for some of her more volatile actions on VH1’s “Basketball Wives.”

The 43-year-old ex-wife of former NBA All-Star Kenny Anderson knows she can come off as a temperamental bully on the controversial reality show known for its shouting matches and occasional physical altercations. And rather than just put all the blame on the show’s producers and editing — as reality TV stars often do when portrayed in an unflattering light — Roman has owned up to her behavior and set her sights on self-improvement for the sake of her two daughters.

“When I watch myself on TV, that serves as a mirror for me,” said Roman, who was also part of the second of MTV’s “The Real World” in 1993, over the phone this week. “I started seeing things I was doing and ways I was acting that I never realized. My first defense mechanism was to pop off. But I’ve realized I don’t have to be that person all the time. Seeing myself acting like that at my age, I was like, ‘Wow, Tami, you could have sat down and had a discussion about how you felt rather than pop her in the face.’

“I’ve learned to be more of a mentor rather than showing young girls it’s OK to walk through life cursing everybody out. That’s not the imagery I want give my daughters. That Tami still exists. I’m not saying she evaporated. I just need to present a better balance.”

Roman has turned her “Basketball Wives” fame into a nail polish and lip gloss line called TR Love Cosmetics. And while she doesn’t have her own fashion line, she has been booked to host the Basketball Mom Apparel and Hooplyfe Apparel joint fashion show Saturday at Society Art Gallery in West Town. Roman said the fashion lines founded by Chicagoan Nikki Burnett predominantly target women who love basketball or want something to wear to a basketball game.

Because the cast members of “Basketball Wives” are all working on separate projects and ratings not quite what they used to be, Roman has also begun planning for life after the show, should it not return for a sixth season.

“If the show were to make a return, then I’m contractually bound to be a part of it,” Roman said. “I think the key players in our installment — everyone is doing their own thing. Evelyn Lozada is a mommy now. That part of her life may not necessarily work with the ‘Basketball Wives’ format. Potentially, she might have a spinoff in the works.

“My focus is on my own spinoff called ‘Roman Empire.’ We are taping this week for an hour pilot and then going forward from there. My focus is getting this storyline about my life in development and making it something VH1 is proud of and brings in viewers. … I have a TV show coming this summer that CBS has asked us not to talk about. It’s with a very well-known and respected Academy Award-winning star. People get to see me back in the lane I was in before returning to reality TV.”

Roman has appeared in short-lived shows such as CBS’ “Moonlight” and TV One’s “Belle’s” and made one-time appearances on shows including Fox’s “Married with Children” and ABC’s “The Drew Carey Show.” These roles all came after her big break on “The Real World,” back then a groundbreaking series.

How did appearing on “The Real World” compare with “Basketball Wives”?

“When we did ‘Real World,’ it was really real,” Roman said. “Every room had a camera and every time we left the house we were followed by cameras. It caught moments in real time as they played out for six months. With ‘Basketball Wives,’ you have a shooting schedule and know who will be in scenes with you and what you’ll talk about: ‘Tami and Evelyn, how do you feel about Jenn (Williams)?’ (The shows) are completely different. Worlds apart.”

lgomez@tribune.com| Twitter @TribLuis

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Basketball Mom Apparel and Hooplyfe Apparel fashion show

When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Society Art Gallery, 2140 W. Fulton Street
Tickets: $25, VIP $50 at basketballmomapparel.eventbrite.com