riccarda lacey

Riccarda Lacey, creator of Lifetime’s ‘Baps’

BAPs” — Otherwise known to some as “Black American Princesses & Princes,” premiered on Lifetime Television in late July.

The drama-filled docu-series follows a privileged and affluent group of African American friends from St. Louis, born into educated, upper-middle class families.  The “BAPs” are intelligent, educated, beautiful and privileged, and believe being a BAP in today’s world is a birthright.

The hour-long episodes feature the lives and lifestyles of the circle of friends, which includes Anisha, Kristen, Gina, Jason, Riccarda and Brandon. The friendships are never drama-free and sometimes the conversations end up offensive and downright unapologetic.  Six episodes of “BAPs” were ordered for this season and time will tell if there will be future seasons. The show airs on Wednesday nights at 11pm ET/PT (10pm/c).

“BAPs” was created and developed by 34-year-old Riccarda Lacey, a television producer and development executive who lived in St. Louis.  Lacey created the show and pitched it to Asylum Entertainment after seeing a mandate for African American shows.  They shopped it around and eventually landed a deal with Lifetime Television. A television producer at heart, Lacey has worked with CBS Television Distribution, ITV Studios America, Asylum Entertainment and All 3 Media. Lacey is also a featured character in the unscripted docu-series.

“I created and developed this series because there was a void in the television landscape for African American worlds and characters.  I created this show fully knowing that the BAP contingent of the African American population is a polarizing group and that a series about this group will be provocative and controversial because “BAPs” are both reviled and revered,” Lacey told EUR’s Lee Bailey.

She says the show is not about wealth or money. The term identifies a position. Lacey took the term and applied it to the collective group.

“Coming from my mind, this series or idea was really inspired by my upbringing in the world I grew up in and around.  And, so I grew up upper-middle class, and I had a unique experience coming up in this world. This idea kind of existed in a bubble where we were maybe one or two African Americans on our street. The school that I went to was a very good school, and the majority of the children at my school were bused in from the inner city.  So there was this invisible divide I guess from our different backgrounds, and it was weird,” she says.  “Lack of being able to relate to one another, though we were all Black was very strange. Then you had on the other side, white people who I had been going to school with and lived around and I socialized around and at any given opportunity would remind you if you forget that you are Black. It was this weird sort of place, like isolation and sort of living in a bubble. You’re not white, and at the same time these other African Americans going to school with you don’t relate to you either. They think you are an Oreo, you talk like a white girl, or whatever that is,” she says.

Although she grew up in the BAPs world, she recently moved to Hollywood, Calif., and feels she left the BAPs life behind. Now she brings a brand new perspective to the group.

If you’re wondering, Lacey attended college (in St. Louis) with most of the cast and the rest she knew from social settings.

“I’m all about shows or ideas that are rooted in authenticity, so I wanted an intact group of friends, so I could exploit their history for storytelling purposes, instead of having to make something up,” Lacey says. “Instead of just casting and throwing people together, I took people who had a relationship and a group dynamic and everybody already had an established role in the group. This really was an already existing family, an extended family, I’ll say.”

She continued:

“The subject of cultural identity typically stirs up an emotionally charged dialogue among African Americans. And the “BAPs”, from my vantage point, wrestle the most with their cultural identity. They should assimilate and adopt white American ideas while maintaining roots in their Black identity. Yet, they can’t be ‘too’ Black. This rather complex BAP ideology is what makes some other African Americans resent them and at time, makes the BAPs resent themselves. This series, with all of its drama, humor and irony examines that.

“This series is not a part of some larger scheme concocted by Lifetime to continue to exploit African Americans on reality television. But it is an entertaining dissection of African American experiences and attitudes intended to encourage all Americans to consider how the constructs of race and class in this country shape how we view ourselves and one another.”

For more on “BAPs” which airs tonight at 11pm ET/PT (10pm/c),  go here.