Oxygen Media’s empowering docu-series “The Prancing Elites Project” returns for a second season with an expanded hour-long format beginning tonight, Tuesday, January 19 at 8PM ET/PT. If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing the Prancing Elites in action – set your DVRs for an experience that will not disappoint. The Elites are five African American, gay and gender non-conformists who are an award-winning J-Setting dance team from Mobile, AL – Adrian Clemons, Kentrell Collins, Kareem Davis, Jerel Maddox and Tim Smith.
As a fan, I watched season 1 in its entirety – it’s funny and outrageous as well as tender and heart-warming, all in the face of very real prejudice and adversity – and I could not wait to see more. “The Prancing Elites Project” was Oxygen’s highest-rated new series of 2015, and as a result, the Elites have begun to defy the odds and find success and acceptance in the South as well as other parts of the U.S. And if the second season is as promising as its premiere (I saw an advance screening), Oxygen might as well dust off the green light for Season 3.
Good Black News had the chance to chat with the Elites about the second season and what it has in store (and like any good entertainers, they left us wanting more):
Good Black News: Kentrell, this season we see you’re in a relationship and it’s teased that you still want to have children. You had fun with that last season – caring for the doll as the baby -but what steps this season are you taking towards fulfilling your dream of becoming a parent?
Kentrell: I can’t really say what steps I’ve taken [we have to watch!], but I actually still want to, because everybody in my family has kids except me now.
You also seem to focus a lot on trying to move the team to the next level. What would be the ultimate fantasy goal for you as the team leader for the Prancing Elites?
Honestly… the sky is the limit. We could tour… we can act, we can sing… we can put on these big, lavish shows. But it all comes with hard work – nothing in this life comes easy and that’s one of the things that I’m always stressing. If we want to get to the next level we’ve got to constantly keep working… If we were ever to perform during Super Bowl halftime, that would be the best of the best. And we would love to perform with Beyoncé, obviously…
We’ve also talked about performing on big award shows like Grammys, the Oscars and entertaining there.
Tim, it’s teased this season that you’ll be dealing with issues around your identity. Can you talk about that if it doesn’t spoil anything?
Tim: I’m basically an easygoing person… whatever floats your boat, if I could sum it up. I know what I want to be called, but my sisters just think you shouldn’t let a person call you something you’re not comfortable being called… so it’s about owning up about who I really want to be… and not letting a person walk over me and do what they want to do. It’s about having confidence.
Which ultimately is an issue we all can relate to… The show is mainly shot in your hometown of Mobile, Alabama. Are you celebrities there now?
Yeah. Because every time a person sees us, they always scream, “Oh my God, it’s y’all!” and they want to take a picture. I love it… I like that people like us.
Jerel, it sets up in the premiere that you have a deep interest in make-up artistry. Is it something you are interested in pursuing professionally?
Jerel: I love the beauty that you can get from make up. I never feel like make-up makes someone beautiful – I only feel like make-up enhances a person’s beauty… I see myself possibly one day having my own make-up line and working for celebrities all around the world, and also making YouTube tutorials and things of that nature. I love my hometown, but in order to pursue my passion which is make up… I would have to be in a bigger environment like New York, LA or Atlanta.
How do you stay dedicated to the team and balance your individual interests?
There’s a line – you just have to find the balance. I don’t even know how to explain it – you can’t spend more time on one to another. You’ve got to find an equal balance.
Adrian, some of the highlights from the first episode are when you are mentoring the young women’s dance team, especially the moments with Amber, who is plus-sized. What do you hope to accomplish with those girls and that team?
Adrian: I wanted to mentor young women because a lot of them look up to the way I dance. So I thought it would be nice if I could, you know, give some of my tips and some of my movements to them and share it with them.
Did you sense or know it would lead into helping them with deeper issues like self-esteem?
That was really unexpected. I didn’t know it was going to lead to that. But me working with them, I’m growing more and I’m finding out more about myself. I take myself more serious now, because I have my little ones that look up to me and I want to lead them toward the right path.
So you’ve become a role model… unexpectedly.
Most definitely apparent.
Did you growing up have any mentors in dance? Was there anybody to help you when you were trying to pursue your interest at a younger age?
No, not really, because when I first started doing it, I kind of kept it secret because I didn’t know how people around me would take it. So I kind of did it on my own behind closed doors. The older I got, then I didn’t care about what people think.
Are you still living with Tim and her boyfriend?
[Hesitates] Yes… I still live with Tim.
Hmm… interesting. Okay, that’s fine, I’ll leave it there. Kareem, it’s so great to see you smiling and so much happier this season after dealing with all you were dealing with last season [Kareem revealed he is HIV-positive].
Kareem: Thank you.
Are you still active in the HIV awareness campaign?
Yes, but it’s more education than anything else. Whenever I learn something, in an intimate setting I educate others. I need to speak to my manager about making [more] appearances at events. It’s not happening now but it will eventually.
What can you tell me about the situation where you chose to coach your boyfriend on a competing dance team? I’m wondering what kind of internal conflict did you have over making that decision?
The main conflict was trying to regain the connection with the Prancing Elites. Because going through everything I went through [last season], I disconnected from a lot of different aspects of my life. But I’m no longer going through that and I’m coming back full circle and now we have all these issues as a group, so I’m having to focus on mentoring a team and reconnecting with the rest of the team that I’m on. In the beginning the balance was a bit shaky because there was so much going on with the Prancing Elites… and I hadn’t planned to be that intensely involved right then [with the competing team]. So… I didn’t go crazy but when I was asked to, but I thought I would probably go crazy. But you’ll see how everything works out throughout the different situations in the season. I don’t think I gained any grey hair from it…
We can’t wait to watch. In the meantime, anything coming up that people can know about?
Adrian: We’re still pretty.
We know that, Adrian.
Kentrell: We’re doing Mardi Gras parades on February 1st and the 6th in Mobile, AL.
Prancing Elites: It’s a party!!!!!!
The Prancing Elites are also scheduled to do some international appearances in the coming months. For more information and dates, go to their Facebook page or their Twitter @PrancingElites.
For more of “The Prancing Elites Project,” fans can visit the official show site to see exclusive videos, dance footage, GIFs, photos, interactive polls, interviews and bios. Viewers can also create and share memes after each episode. Check out the official Facebook page, and join the conversation on Twitter or Instagram using hashtag #PrancingElites.
by Lori Lakin Hutcherson, GBN Editor-in-Chief