HOUSTON – Some of your favorite celebrities returned to school to find out what the HBCU experience is like while reviving the popular reality series College Hill: Celebrity Edition.
Celebs Nene Leakes, Slim Thug, Ray J, Lamar Odom, Big Freedia, Stacey Dash, DreamDoll, and India Love took on the challenge of higher education while being welcomed into Tiger nation and getting a taste of what it’s like to attend historically Black college Texas Southern University.
Premiering this summer, the eight-episode series explores college life through a celebrity lens while showcasing the unique cultural and academic experience of HBCUs, a news release said.
While being enrolled alongside actual TSU students, the cast worked towards completing a specialty certification program in order to cross the stage.
“Having the cast and crew of ‘College Hill: Celebrity Edition’ on our campus was a special experience for Texas Southern University and a unique opportunity to introduce TSU to new audiences,” said Texas Southern University vice president for communications and advancement Melinda Spaulding on the university’s website. “The multiple positive interactions with students and the highlighting of our president and faculty will show the world what we already know about Texas Southern... We hope our participation will enhance the interest in not only the Texas Southern University, but all HBCUs.”
When it comes to attending an HBCU, former Morris Brown College attendee and Real Housewives of Atlanta favorite Nene Leakes told KPRC 2 Digital Content Producer Erica Ponder, “it’s changed dramatically,” while raving about all that TSU has to offer.
Houston’s own Slim Thug, who attended TSU for a short period of time after graduating from high school, looked at the opportunity as a second chance to broaden his educational horizons and learn more about the university.
“I probably had the most fun because I was at home and I already knew what TSU was about, but I didn’t know as much as I learned when I got there,” Slim said.
In addition to the rigorous curriculum the cast followed while still juggling their everyday jobs and businesses, they also engaged in many eye-opening discussions with each other. During the filming of the show, Slim had an important conversation with New Orleans Bounce artist Big Freedia about Freedia’s preferred pronouns as someone in the LGBTQ community.
While Leakes believes that college is not for everyone, she still encouraged young people to get a college education.
“There are other ways to be successful outside of going to college. Now, I don’t recommend it because it’s just a harder path,” Leakes said. “If you can get your education now while you’re young, you have something to fall back on, even if you don’t use that degree right away.”
Social media influencer India Love and former NBA star Lamar Odom felt the experience helped them overcome personal hurdles of doubt while boosting their confidence.
“It really made me look forward to learning and I haven’t had that feeling in a long time, so I was grateful for that,” Odom said.
India described the overwhelming support she felt while trying to navigate learning at a university that many HBCU students can relate to.
“What I liked the most was that everyone was willing to help,” India said. “I didn’t know how to do a lot of things in class and anytime a student in class or the teacher seen or sensed that I needed help, they were very on it and I didn’t feel ashamed to raise my hand for certain things or mess up because they were there to help us.”
“As the original creator and Executive Producer of ‘College Hill,’ I am so elated to partner with Texas Southern University and be able to bring back this cherished franchise with an exciting new twist that I am sure will entertain and inspire new and old fans across the board,” Tracey Edmonds, CEO and President of Edmonds Entertainment said in a release. “We intend to provide a fun but sometimes challenging journey that will show viewers it’s never too late to go back to school.”
For more information on how you can watch the series, click here.