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Houghton kidding around with a guest on “Showtime at the Apollo.” Fox/Getty

When you watch her on The Real, Adrienne Houghton (professionally known as Bailon) seems to exude a lot of energy, and talking to her on the phone, it’s the same thing. She is charismatic, passionate about whatever topic you bring up and just has a positive energy that one can’t help but like. That’s probably why she was chosen to co-host Showtime at the Apollo alongside Steve Harvey recently. Catching up with the 34-year-old beauty about that opportunity on an iconic stage, we also had the chance to talk to her about her own experience performing in front of the Apollo crowd, The Real defying the odds and winning an Emmy, and talk of her expanding her already large, blended family with Israel Houghton.
MadameNoire: You recently joined Steve Harvey to be a co-host of Showtime at the Apollo. Did you grow up staying up late and watching the show like the rest of us? 

Adrienne Houghton: Absolutely! I grew up in New York City. It would come on at midnight on Saturdays. I would be falling asleep during [church] service because I just wanted to stay up and watch Showtime at the Apollo [laughs]. And being a young kid that loves performing, I just couldn’t imagine a day that I actually would be co-hosting the show. Even the time that I actually got to perform at Showtime at the Apollo with 3LW, that was a dream come true because I literally grew up watching the show and it’s iconic.

When you performed there with 3LW, how was the audience? They can be rough. 

I was shaking. I’m a New Yorker. I know that audience keeps it real like no other. And even if you’re not one of the amateurs performing, as a professional, if they’re not feeling you, they’re going to let you know.

Were they kind to you?

They were! They were definitely kind. When we just got off stage we were shaking, just the idea that we had performed on such a legendary stage. I felt so honored. I mean, just knowing the people that had been on that stage before us, like The Jackson Five, and Luther Vandross. And Whitney Houston literally recorded the music video for “I Will Always Love You” there. You know, when she’s sitting in the chair, it’s actually on the stage at the Apollo. So there’s nothing like that.


You had your first chance to be at the Apollo as part of a group. Speaking of excelling as a group, congratulations to you guys of The Real on the Emmy win!

Thank you! I joke around that we won the Emmy, but we also should have won the award for like the worst acceptance speech of all time [laughs]. And when I say “worst,” it’s just because people don’t understand. We were so caught off guard. To this day there were so many people that were like, “We can’t see an all-minority multiculti daytime talk show working.” There were so many doubters. We would even joke about ourselves and say, “We’re the little show that could.” Because it was such a big gap in the market place for daytime television where there really wasn’t anything speaking to women like myself. And I think also being the newbie in the category was a lot. You have The View, which has been around forever. You have, The Talk, who are like our big sisters at this point and they show us so much love. Kelly and Ryan Live, that show has been on forever. So to be the newbies in the game and be nominated three times and to win on the third? We were honored just to be there, let alone win. Girl, I ran in the opposite direction of the stage! Jeannie had her shoes off. Lonnie was sobbing. Tamera was praising the Lord. It was a lot going on.

Totally, because I was going to say, you touched on it already, but the show defied all the expectations and excelled despite the detractors. There has been some negativity out there. 

Even our own people if we’re going to keep it real. Even our own people were like, “Yeah, but they don’t have a white girl. Not sure that’s going to work.” Because I think we’ve never seen anything like it. It’s just so awesome that we’ve been able to shake it up on daytime and and show that there is a place for everyone. I’m so excited that this next generation gets to see that they can have somebody that they can look at on daytime television and be like, “Mommy, I look like her” or “I relate to what she’s saying. I relate to her experience.” That’s what it’s all about.

Awesome. Shifting gears just a little bit, speaking about positivity, I saw the really sweet message, when it comes to your Emmy win, that Meleasa Houghton wrote about you. I wanted to ask you, how important has it been to have a positive relationship with her? 

I think it’s so important. The Bible says, “Honor your mother and your father and you will have a long life.” I think that is something that we encourage for sure, honoring parents. I thank God that I had such a great example of a blended family myself. Very similar. My parents were married for 21 years. My parents got divorced when I was 13 years old. My parents remarried, both, within the year of being divorced. And I think that allowed me to see how great a blended family could be because I thank God that I had a mom that encouraged me to have a great relationship with my stepmom. I saw love there and that they always put us, the children, first. So I had a great example of that. And my parents, we all vacation together. It’s crazy, right? But they do it and I think there is something to be said for even though you’re not together, still having a friendship there. That’s what’s really important, and I think we’ve been able to do that. And I feel honored and blessed and privileged to be able to co-parent with two amazing people.

That’s dope! Another question about positivity and negativity, I know you’re a huge Cardi B fan. So I wanted to ask you what you thought of a lot of the negativity that she’s encountered lately? That includes the issues with different female rappers and the onslaught of negative commentary that’s come as she nears the end of her pregnancy.

Sadly, in the society and the world we’re in right now, it’s expected. Somebody’s winning, you’ve got to come in and say something bad about them. And I think Cardi is a perfect example of, she’s a regular girl just like us. I think she’s super talented. I think she’s unique. I think she’s special. I think that there was something special about her that made us connect to her. And I think, sadly, when people see people’s success, at some point they’re like, “Okay. We get it. We loved her. Now it’s time to go negative.” And I think that’s heartbreaking. I wish as a society that we would change that. But I think the most important thing for her is just to keep her eye on the prize, enjoy her pregnancy, and take it from Michelle Obama: When they go low, go high.

Lastly, I wanted to ask you about the fact that last year, you were saying that you wanted to expand your family this year. I’ve wondered if you kind of regret sharing that information? Because once you put that out there that pressure becomes real, and I already see people asking you if you’re pregnant. 

On a show like The Real, we’re literally on television every day, Monday through Friday, talking for an entire hour. And you just speak your heart and you pray that some of it works, some of it touches somebody’s heart, and some of it is pointless but you hope that they’ll get it. You may watch and be like, “Why is she saying this? This is dumb.” And I get that. It ain’t for everybody. Everything I say is not going to be for everybody. But when it comes to sharing my personal life, I don’t regret it because, again, there is somebody that may be watching it that it may encourage. And at the same time, yes, it is crazy to hear every day that I’m pregnant when I am not pregnant. And that sometimes can get a little frustrating because man, the day that I do announce that I’m pregnant, people are going to be like, “This girl has been pregnant for the last two years!” Let me tell you when it actually happens so that it doesn’t seem like I’ve been pregnant for a century.

Right! You took a few days off recently and it’s was like, “Oh, she must be hiding or wearing this or doing that because there’s a bun in the oven!”

I get it. I pray that it’s more so that people are excited and hopeful for me rather than, you know, that I’m enjoying too many carbs [laughs]. But I take it all with a grain of salt. I can’t believe I’ve been in this industry for 20 years. But you learn to have thick skin, and I always say that I never take things personal if I don’t know you personally. And I think the people that know me, they know my journey and they know that I’m not pregnant. That’s not something where you announce, “Hey, I want to get pregnant,” and then the next day, you’re announcing on television, “Hey, I’m pregnant.” It doesn’t work that way.

Right. Well, you know, good luck to you with all of it! Because honestly, once you put that desire out in the universe, or even if you just get married, as you have, the pressure is immediate from people.

And I’m in no rush. I think it’s important to say that as well. Yes, I’d like to extend my family, but I am in no rush. I want what God wants for me more than anything.

Showtime at the Apollo airs on Thursday nights at 9 p.m. EST on Fox. Check your local listings for times to watch The Real. 

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