The world met Tiffany Pollard on the VH1 reality show Flavor of Love. After being given the nickname New York, she competed against other hopefuls to win the heart of the Public Enemy hypeman Flavor Flav. New York was a force to be reckoned with from the very beginning. She was smart, confident, competitive and could put anyone in their place, leaving them in tears without flinching. 

Pollard’s star quality was undeniable and led her to other opportunities in the reality television world. The self-proclaimed HBIC proved her staying power with her shows, including I Love New YorkBrunch with Tiffany, and several appearances in other reality shows such as Botched and Scared Famous. Earlier this year, Pollard was a cast member on BET+’s College Hill: Celebrity Edition alongside Ray J and Amber Rose. Any fan of reality television would agree that Tiffany Pollard paved the way for women of color on reality shows to be unapologetically themselves. Now, Pollard is returning to reality television as a cast member in E!’s reality competition show House of Villains, where several reality stars compete for a cash prize. 

Recently, the reality star queen sat down with Blavity’s Shadow and Act to discuss her new show. Pollard also discussed her longevity in the business and shared her favorite reality stars.

Before we even get into the season, what qualifications do you feel one has to possess to be considered a villain in reality TV?

Tiffany Pollard: First of all, you have to be true to yourself, not apologize for anything and always live that truth regardless of what it makes you look like. Secondly, you have to have confidence to be able to withstand people who may not see things the way you see them. Sometimes, you have to go it alone, and you just must have that strength and that confidence within. Thirdly, sometimes you have to have a strong drinking hand to have your back when nobody else can. You can’t always call for your mom or your brother to be there, but a good little gin and tonic can do the trick.

I was not expecting that third one, but as a wino, I 100% get it. Who were you excited to be in the house with once you entered? Did you guys know who would be a part of the cast ahead of time, or was it all a total surprise?

TP: Oh, E! is so amazing and wonderful at keeping secrets, so of course, they did not tell us a thing. But I love to be in an environment with heavyweights, so to see Omarosa there, to see Tanisha there, the women that I know that I can throw the big guns at, they can take it. I was really excited to see those larger personalities in the house. And that’s just to name a few.

Was there anyone in the house you didn’t think deserved to be there? Were you like, ‘Who even is this person?’

TP: I have to say this, and I say this with deep regret because he was so sweet and friendly and actually the first person that I met at the entrance was Johnny Fairplay. He’s so kind, and I think he even poured me a drink. His energy wasn’t giving villain; it was just giving counselor, but I needed him there over time.

You’ve been on a few different reality competition shows with a cash prize at the end. So, what was your strategy in playing this specific game?

TP: Well, Brenda, that’s an amazing question. I’d have to say my strategy with going in is kind of how I approach a little bit of everything in life, especially when it’s a competition type of situation. I try to get myself as prepared as much as possible, but then I leave this blind spot. Because if I don’t leave a blind spot and I’m overly prepared, I know I’m going to mess it up. So, in this instance, I’m like, ‘OK, there’s cash at the end. I’m going to put that on the back burner and just try to remain in the house as long as I possibly could.’ And if that meant making friendships and alliances and doing a little cheating, whatever it was I had to do, I tried to let that be the main focus so I could stay in the house.

Photo: Casey Durkin/E! Entertainment

Who would you say was your biggest competition?

TP: My biggest competition in the house I would say is someone who was very, very physically strong. The brains and the brawn. Oh my goodness, it’s that daggone Johnny Bananas. Something about him. He is just built for competition through and through, and he was just nailing a lot of the stuff, and it’s just like, oh gosh, he’s too good.

The super trailer shows an explosive moment between you and one of your houseguests, and we always look forward to you going off when necessary. So, what can you tease about that moment?

TP: Well, Brenda, you said it in a nutshell: always going off when necessary because, as the HBIC myself, I’m never going to start anything. I’m never going to be a bully. If you feel like you’re going to put me on the spot, and I must defend myself and defend my name and defend my feelings at that moment, I’m going to give you all that I have and then some extra to send you running and crying. So basically, that’s just what it was.

Now, you’ve been a part of the whole reality TV genre for quite some time, and many reality stars come and go. What would you say contributes to your specific staying power?

TP: I believe that I pretty much allow my audience to see myself, whatever that face may be at that moment. If I’m confident, OK. If I’m sad, OK, I’m going to show that too; just the flexibility of being someone that’s relatable. You can never go wrong with that because so many people can relate to whatever that issue is that you may be feeling at the moment. So being perfect, I will never be that, and I think that people definitely resonate with them, and they appreciate my rawness and my realness.

Now, aside from yourself, who’s your favorite reality star?

TP: Besides myself, I have to say, she hit me up a little while ago, a couple of weeks ago, I believe in the DMs. We go back and forth, and we share with each other. We give each other our little accolades here and there, but Nene Leakes. That’s my girl, and we always big each other up and wish each other the best.

Photo: Casey Durkin/E! Entertainment

Do you have a favorite reality show that is on right now?

TP: Oh my goodness, there’s so many of them. I hate that I’m on the spot right now, but I have to say, whenever the Housewives are on, I’m going to watch that. Whenever Vanderpump Rules is on, I’m going to watch that. I just love when there are marathons on, and I can curl my lace front wigs to them and catch up on what’s going on.

Now, aside from you, your mother, Sister Patterson, has always been just as polarizing, and your fans are always wondering, how’s everything with her? How’s the rest of your family? But obviously, Mama always has a special place in our hearts.

TP: Oh my goodness. My mom is the biggest support system ever. She’s doing amazing. She’s always down to just help me with whatever it is I need, whether that’s a shoulder to cry on or just a sounding board for me when I’m acting reckless. My mom is just such a strong, incredible woman and force in my life, and she’s doing amazing. My whole entire family, we’re all doing really well. We’re blessed. We’re praying people, so glory to God.

There’s been a surge of Black women leading the reality TV dating space. So, with more women of color at the forefront of reality dating shows, would you ever consider leading another one?

TP: Well, I would say this: at this time, I’m in a very committed, serious, solid relationship, and I don’t see that going anywhere anytime soon. Hopefully, this is my forever because I don’t want to have to date again. But what I would like to say with the Black women who are leading this space, I want the relationships to last. I feel like sometimes social media can get into the middle of your business, and you can tear a good thing apart just by being too into the circle where you need to be on the outside. So when you find your mate, it’s so important that you two have that circle of trust, and then everything else is on the opposite side of that. You can take advice, but don’t let that be the thing that leads you from others. I’d like to see some staying power relationships.

Now, I imagine that you get approached quite often about participating in any type of reality show. So, what goes into your specific selection process?

TP: Well, I have to say, it’s so funny you asked that, Brenda, because when they ask me to do something, the first thing I go is, ‘OK, how long is the duration? And do I have to stay overnight?’ It just depends on the area, how long, and just if it feels right to me. If something feels right, I’m like, ‘I’m down to do it.’ But if something feels a little bit long or draining or just doesn’t fit where I am in my mind and in my personal space right now in my life, I go, ‘Well, I appreciate the offer, but right now, I can’t explore it.’ And there’s a lot of those situations because, well, many things I get hit up for are dating opportunities, and some of them are with my mate, and he doesn’t want to give up his personal life. So he doesn’t want to be known; he doesn’t want to be on camera, and that’s what I love about him. So we turn down those couple shows a lot of the time.

So, how do you feel like you’re going to balance being a public figure and being in a private relationship? What would you say is key to that?

TP: Well, it’s not easy. It’s always going to be a struggle until I figure that one out, and that’s something that hasn’t been figured out all the way yet. And that is something as to why I’m not actually married at the moment because that is the struggle. We do go back and forth with that because it’s really a hard balance. How far do you allow your man to lead into what you’re doing, and then you have to stay the HBIC and say, ‘Hey, I got to take these options and explore these opportunities.’ So that’s something I still hadn’t figured out just yet.

Now, what would you say is next for you professionally? As I mentioned, you’ve been in this reality TV game; we’ve seen you do Brunch with Tiffany. What is your next chapter looking like in the entertainment space?

TP: Well, it’s looking very, very, very, very wonderful. I want to say at the top of next year, I will be producing the next project that I’m in, and that will be my first time coming to the table as a producer. So it’s way more easy to be in the production of it all and to be hosting and things like that. So, I’m really, really excited for the next chapter that will be coming at the top of January.

And do you feel you get your flowers for how important the whole Tiffany Pollard/New York brand is to the reality TV space?

TP: Well, I am blessed and fortunate enough to say I do receive my flowers because I think what it is is I wake up with myself every single day, and I’m with myself 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So sometimes I forget who I am. So I do a club appearance or if I go out or if I’m in somebody’s space and they remind me, ‘Oh, you’re the mother of reality television.’ Or just recently, I got a tattoo in Beverly Hills, and when the young man was finished doing it, he was like, I’m not charging you. He was like, ‘I’m going to give you your flowers. You’re the HBIC.’ So I thought that was so nice, but of course, I gave him a really, really huge tip. But there are moments like that that remind you of how appreciated you still are.