A lot of people think their families are funny and entertaining enough to be on TV. But Brownstown native Nikki “Hoopz” Alexander took the idea to the next level by creating a reality show about her siblings.
The end result is “It Takes a Sister,” a comical Oxygen series that airs Tuesday nights and is centered around Alexander and her four younger sisters, their eight children, one of the sister’s ex-boyfriends — who also happens to be Alexander’s assistant — and three dogs. The show is set in their Knoxville, Tennessee, home where the sinewy model and reality star best known for her 2006 stint on VH1’s dating series “Flavor of Love,” now lives. The Woodhaven High School graduate also competed on and won the $250,000 jackpot from VH1’s “I Love Money” in 2008.
“For me, this isn’t something that is all of a sudden happening. This is my life,” said Alexander, 32, in a recent phone interview, of her sisters. (Four out of five of Alexander’s sisters chose to do the show.) “The funny thing is the world has a different perception of me. I’m the competitive one. I’m the one who hates losing, and I’m the strong one.
“My sisters on the show are constantly talking crap about me and making jokes. “Yet, when I walked in during the last episode, they all wanted to make sure the bathroom was clean because they’re terrified of me. So it’s just funny to actually sit back and see it.”
Alexander’s sisters — Jenni, Erika, Kortnee and Meagan — don’t just give their eldest sibling guff. They harass her boyfriends, too. Alexander was engaged to former NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal, but the two broke up. Now she’s dating mixed martial arts fighter Ovince Saint Preux, 32, aka Vince, and one sister mocked the fighter’s mild lisp on the show.
“A guy has to be strong to date me, and we know right from the beginning if they can take it,” Alexander said. “I mean, I mess with their boyfriends, too, if they have them. We’re jokesters and we don’t take a lot seriously unless we have to. If you can’t take a joke, then you’re probably not going to last long around us.”
Andre Abney, 29, seemingly has a sense of humor and nerves of steel. As Alexander’s assistant and the father of Meagan’s son, he can take it and dish it, too.
“It’s just how it is. I was always watching their kids. I consider them my family,” said Abney, a Taylor native and Eastern Michigan University graduate. “The whole thing is pretty surreal. At one point, this was just an idea and now it’s a show. Oddly enough, the show has forced me and Meagan to be better communicators and co-parents.”
As for Alexander, although Knoxville is her home now, she says Metro Detroit will always have her heart. After all, it’s the city where she learned to work hard and dream big.
Most of her family still lives in the Detroit area, and she travels back and forth often, she said. Alexander also owns a clothing store in Knoxville and is one of the producers behind “It Takes a Sister.”
“You just have to keep on going. You’ve got to make your plan and follow through,” Alexander advised, adding that it took two years to get “It Takes a Sister” on TV. “It’s been a long and rough two years for me with the show and building my store. But I’ve learned anything that comes easy, doesn’t last long. Those things that you have to work hard for and take longer are the things you get to celebrate and savor in the long run.”
Mekeisha Madden Toby is a TV critic and entertainment reporter based in Los Angeles.
‘It Takes a Sister’
9:30 p.m. Tuesday