Amber Rose’s new talk show aims to clap back
The dancer, model and activist is way more than an ex-girlfriend
Amber Rose wasn’t trying to be famous. Her intention was to stand by her partner’s side — at the time, Kanye West, whom she dated from 2008-2010 — as they walked red carpets in matching outfits and displayed public affection for one another. Openly and often.
She was a strip club dancer and video model from South Philadelphia. She appeared in Ludacris’ 2008 video for “What Them Girls Like,” body-rolling and clapping through the song that also featured Chris Brown and Sean Garrett. Rose is the one you pay attention to in that video — her lips are perfectly puckered and pink, and her blonde, bald hairdo stood out in the crowd of long barrel-curled hair.
She had the face. She had the body. My God, she had the body. But she also had a voice. A strong one. A voice that demanded to be listened to. Only we didn’t know it back then.
We’ve since learned our lesson. If you push too hard, her verbal game will assassinate — steer clear of her Twitter timeline if you’ve dared attack her character. Ask West. Because when South Philly kicks in, you better duck. Real quick.
“I got the reputation,” said Amber Rose, 32, “of being the clapback queen. The thing of it is, I’m a very positive person. Very compassionate. I don’t like to hurt people’s feelings. But as a human being, when you feel like you’re backed into a corner, or someone says something malicious about you, you’re just like, Well, damn. Do I need to prove a point now? Are you going to make me do this? Back in Philly, you gotta have a mouthpiece or you got to be able to fight. I have both. That’s just how it was in Philly. You gonna lip somebody, you said what you had to say, and then you will fight it out — have a fair one — and that was it. Then you were friends the next day.” In other words: Don’t start none, won’t be none.
But, if you do have something to say to Rose, you may want to take it to The Amber Rose Show — a new weekly television program produced by Dr. Phil — and see how that works out for you. There will of course be guests, but Rose will not shy away from unfiltered conversations about her personal life. After all, more attention is made of Rose’s love life than her business deals — barely anyone was talking about how the emoji app she launched in March grossed nearly $2 million in one day alone and $4 million by just a few days after its launch.
Rose isn’t entirely mad at the focus on her romantic life, but it does become problematic when she, or women generally speaking, are criticized for engaging in presumed or real sexual activity. And it’s happened a great deal to her: When she’s seen talking to a man, taking a picture with a man, tweeting a man, rumored to have hooked up with a man, when she dated — and married — Wiz Khalifa, and it certainly continued when she first started dating her current beau, Toronto Raptor swingman Terrence Ross.
But she can handle the chitchatter now. She’s embracing it. In this NBA off-season, she’s been on a promo tour, and is traveling to Los Angeles, New York, Toronto and the South of France — and said Ross will likely travel with her. “We’re really, really happy and he’s very shy, and doesn’t really like to be in the spotlight — I like that. I feel like I need that right now. He’s under the radar. He’s very comfortable with me [being] the celebrity one that lives out in Hollywood,” she said of Ross. “He supports everything that I do and he never judges me. He’s so proud of me. I’m really happy he’s in my life.”
It took her a while to become this happy and this confident. Post her 2010 breakup with West, she dealt with a lot of online bullying with thumb thugs calling her everything but her actual name. She eventually found love with Khalifa — they had baby boy Sebastian in 2013, married that same year, and separated in 2014. The two recently hung out at a strip club together when the divorce was final — she tweeted they celebrated their love for one another.
“People don’t understand that dating someone doesn’t mean that you’re going to be with them forever, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to marry them,” she said. “It means that you’re getting to know them, and you go out on dates and you figure things out along the way.”
An invitation to The Amber Rose Show is an invitation to join Rose in a sex-positive, judgment-free zone. She’ll have celebrity guests coming on and she plans to ask them about their bedroom behavior. “I’m going to ask them a lot of crazy sex questions. It’s a no-judgment zone. Nobody’s going to be like, ‘Oh, my God! I can’t believe you’re into that!’ Or, ‘Oh, my God! Why would you want to do that?’ It’s really just embracing sexuality for men and women,” she said, “And, you know, not talk s— about each other.”
It’s a way to take the power in her hands and redirect the conversations about sex — especially as so often, vitriol is hurled in her direction. Her show will be a weekly, in-your-face discussion about sex, race, pop culture and relationships — what Larry Wilmore has done for race on The Nightly Show, Rose quite possibly will do for a sex-positive movement. This is the place where Rose can talk about freely about a subject matter close to her heart: slut-shaming and how harmful that is to women. “I cried a lot,” she said. “I didn’t ask for this life in the first place. I just prayed and I was like, ‘God, why? Why me? Why did you give me this life?’ People will never understand what that feels like until they become famous, until they have to deal with the ridicule, and the rumors and all the messed-up things that people say about you.”
Rose has successfully turned all of that hatefulness into a positive movement — even her emoji app turns insults upside down. Fans can download images of stripper poles, condoms, and an image of her making it rain. In 2015 she launched the Amber Rose SlutWalk — people gathered in protest of slut shaming, and another is on deck for October. And in the interim, she’ll have The Amber Rose Show, where she’ll address such issues — and how she got over it.
“Over the years I just got really strong,” she said. “I was like, You know what, everybody that knows me, loves me. If you don’t know me, I don’t give a s—. I don’t care anymore. You’re going to call me a slut if I’m married. You’re going to call me a slut if I’m dating. You’re going to call me a slut if I have a casual sexual encounter with someone. You’re going to call me a slut regardless of what I do. So I just embraced the word and it took all the power out of it and it made my life much better.” And if she can continue to change the conversation, even better.
“I’m more than just somebody’s Barbie doll. I’m more than an ex-stripper. I’m more than an ex-girlfriend. I’m smart. I talk to people. I absorb knowledge. I don’t s— on anybody,” she said. “I’m appreciative of everything I have. The people around me, they know me, they love me, and that’s what’s most important.”
The Amber Rose Show premieres Friday at 11 p.m. ET/PT on VH1.