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For years, Evelyn Lozada appeared to be on top of the world. She had two reality shows, a new marriage, and money in the bank, but she found herself unhappy. As viewers tuned in for her explosive scenes on “Basketball Wives” (BBW) every Monday and read about her life with her man on the blogs with her man, Evelyn knew she needed a change. It was time for her to evolve.

In a matter of months she was divorced and nowhere to be found online or on television for over two years. During that time of working to be a better person and find her happy, she found love again, became a mother again, and later had two seasons of her own show, “Livin’ Lozada,” on OWN.

Happy, newly single, and in a positive place, this season Evelyn has returned to BBW where it all began. She’s there to show the new, positive side of herself in the midst of all the drama which anyone who’s seen just a commercial for the show knows isn’t easy. Here Evelyn talks to us about her journey to a life of positivity, and how she handles negativity now that she’s back on TV.

When did you realize you needed to change who you were and how people perceived you in the media from “Basketball Wives?”

I will say it was probably around the fourth season going into the fifth season of BBW Miami. That’s around the time I met Iyanla and ended up doing “Iyanla: Fix My Life.” During that time I reached out [to her] and I didn’t think she was going to reach back out for the show. There was a lot going on in my life at the time.

When I first reached out, which was before my life officially turned upside down, I felt it was on its way there. It was definitely around the time that I met her, and we filmed for her show then stayed connected. I ended up getting married in 2012, obviously the world knows what happened with that. It was all the wake-up call for me in my life. I needed to get my life together because I felt when I did BBW Miami, I guess it’s easy for me to see it now, but I was putting so much negative energy into the universe. I was so angry. I believe you get back what you put out and that was the start for me around that time.

MN: You said you felt like your life was getting to that turning point, what were those feelings you had?

I was just unhappy. I just found myself very unhappy, not depressed, but I wasn’t happy. The world thought my life was perfect, obviously it wasn’t, and that’s what made me want to look for something different. That’s why I ended up taking two-plus years of my life to focus on me with therapy, meditation, searching for something else. I felt really empty.

I was on the show, actually I had two shows at the time- filming BBW and my own show with Chad. We got married then that lasted 40-something days, then my brother-in-law died. All those things were a lot for me. I was like, “I’m not doing this anymore. I need to figure something else out.” Financially, money was okay, but what’s money if you’re not happy? That’s when I started to change my life.

What steps did you take to get here?

Obviously meeting Iyanla. Thank God for me meeting her because she definitely opened up my eyes to a lot of things. It’s so funny when I meet people and they’re like “I don’t know how you could even just sit there and go through that process,” but you need to hear the bad things. She definitely helped me through the process. I just really started doing therapy. I never thought that I would want to meditate, but I actually do. All of that has really helped me.

Then having my son. I ended up getting pregnant with Leo thinking, “Now I really have to get things together for myself.” I’ve always been a great mom, but I wanted to give my kids the best of me. That’s always my focus regardless of what is going on.

How was it for the people around you witnessing your transition?

I was by myself for a little bit after I got divorced. I moved to California from Miami, and spent a lot of time with Shaniece, which was helpful. I would say maybe for like a year I slept in the bed with her — being around her and feeling safe.

I don’t have a lot of friends. I cut off a lot of people and stayed close to the people I felt mattered and were important, who, of course, are my daughter, my family– sister, mother, and nieces. The few friends that I did have were like two or three. I could count them on one hand. I went from being clique-ish to growing up and knowing better. It’s better to have two really good friends, maybe even three versus having six or seven girls that you hang out with.

I turned off from everything. I wasn’t in the scene chasing what a lot of people chase. I wanted things to come to me and my life. That was pretty much it. I wanted to turn off and focus on me and my family.

I noticed the shift with your family being on BBW and “Livin’ Lozada,” do you contribute that to your change?

I think we all dealt with things. I was talking to someone earlier about my sister being a widow at 40. Here I am going through a divorce, my brother-in-law is dying, and we’re going through things. I think we all pretty much leaned on each other and worked through it. My small family unit is pretty tight. We’re all pretty close and lean on each other when something is going on.

When you have those people you can trust- that’s a key thing for me too. I’m very close to the people I’m close to.

What made you want to rejoin BBW and what was your plan to navigate the drama on the show?

My main reason for wanting to come back to BBW was I wanted to bring something different. Before I was the crazy girl that did some crazy things, so to really show the viewers something different after going through some things. And to show people I changed. A lot of people couldn’t watch my show on OWN so they couldn’t see what my life looked like. How do they know I changed? I could say it all day, but I wanted to go back to the beginning of where I started, which was BBW Miami, just to be able to show everyone — the viewers, a lot of the women that support me and young girls like look I did — change.

I’m in the nitty gritty of it. It was difficult. I would say it was one of the most difficult seasons for me yet because I was tested from the beginning. I always thought to myself “Am I doing the right thing?”, “Am I saying the right thing?”, “Am I hurting anyone’s feelings?” you know.

I also feel like sometimes you have people around you that are on the same path that they’ve been on for 20 years and they haven’t changed or evolved. They want to see you get off that path. You’re doing great, and all of a sudden you’re around people that are doing the same sh-t. They feel some type of way that your life is going a certain way, and will try to test you by saying certain things or even say your growth is not real.

It’s all good. I think I did pretty well this past season despite the obvious drama that happened. I would go back to my house and think, “If I could’ve handled that differently what would I have done?” I can’t really say that I dropped the ball at any point.

In looking back on the season, have you thought maybe you shouldn’t have put yourself in certain situations?

Not really. Not that I’m perfect because I’m not, but I think anything that happened with my castmate, especially when it comes to my kids –I love my kids. It’s even harder because it’s coming from someone that is a mother of three, a grandmother of four, you understand? I always say regardless of any of the arguments or drama that has happened on BBW since I’ve been on it no one has ever talked about anyone’s children. It could’ve been the worse of the worse between me and Tami, we would never talk about anyone’s children.

That [comment from Jackie] was really difficult for me. It was hard for me because as a mother I feel responsible. I’m the one that decided to come back on the show. That opened the door for that person to say that about my daughter. Of course, it’s not my fault because I can’t control what people say, but yeah I do feel responsible because I’m the one on the show. No one has ever written anything negative about my daughter. She’s a sweet girl. For someone to talk about anyone’s kids is just disgusting.

When I watched the clip of someone saying “well Evelyn said ‘go take care of your grandkids,’” my statement was a dig at her because here you are in so much drama and mess. Go focus on other things. It was never anything negative towards her grandkids. I tried to help her grandchild by donating money which was the topic of conversation. I didn’t want to come on the show and talk about that sh-t. She chose to talk about that you know. What am I going to do at that point? You bring the topic to me and it becomes this thing on the show then grows legs and continues.

I would never talk about anybody’s grandkids or anybody’s child, and that’s just what it is for me. I don’t know it’s still mind boggling to me that anyone would do that.

Some people are saying why are you letting Jackie get to you because you know she’s “crazy”?

You know what it is, coming on to this everybody was like, “she’s not wrapped too tight, but base your own opinion.” I wanted to do that, and in the beginning it was cool, she was actually funny, and it was fine until things went left with BJ. I felt like you’re lying and I don’t like that. One thing I hate is a liar and thief. You’re lying and causing stuff. As a woman and mother who is so passionate about her motherhood and sisterhood why are you so freaking messy?

It started where I was like yeah she’s definitely not wrapped too tight, but even still she knows right from wrong. You may gossip sometimes, people can’t control what they say, but to make a statement about somebody’s kids — I think, she’s not that crazy.

Anybody that knows me knows you’re not going to get a rise out of me about anything else other than my kids. Someone’s going “You know she’s changed, everything else is going to roll off her back and be like whatever.” They know your one trigger, which I would think no one would ever pull that card, would be my kids.

How do you feel about Tami saying you shouldn’t have said “go take care of your grandkids” to Jackie?

Tami and I are still cool. My comment was not about “throwing stones” at Jackie’s grandkids it was more like Jackie go focus on yourself. As women, we’re supposed to uplift each other not tear each other down. I know some people are here to stir the pot, and that’s fine…..however, don’t come for my children. Go focus on something else that is positive and uplifting.

What advice do you have for other young women that are on this trajectory of trying to change their life for the positive?

The first thing is you’ve gotta get rid of anything toxic in your life. That’s relationships, friendships. Me personally, I even talk about this on the show, I want to be around people where I can learn something from you. Like “wow you’re doing this with your kids that’s great.” “You did that with your business that’s nice.” I want to be around people I can learn from, we can do positive things together, and have a good time. Really live life to the fullest in a positive way, not gossiping and being messy. That really has a lot to do with your circle. The people you surround yourself with can really affect your life.

That’s why I’m always around my family. If I’m not filming BBW I’m with my family that’s it. I’m not running around with different people. Usually I’m where I feel safe, and know I’m comfortable. Your peers can really affect your life and relationships.

What about women who have to work around people that might be negative while they’re trying to be positive?

I think you have to know what the big picture is. I wanted to change because I wanted better for my life. I knew that being around negative people or anyone that was going to do harm to me or people just aren’t good for me. You can work with those people, but should you bring them home for dinner and have them meet your family? Probably not. Keep it cute, don’t tell them your business just keep it professional.

I’ve been around those people. I used to work in a lawyer’s office for many years and met a lot of people. You just have to know who to allow in your personal space and your life. That’s just what it is. No one comes to my house unless you’re a really good friend of mine or I really, really trust you. I think that’s just it, be selective about who you allow in your space.

You spoke very highly about Iyanla, what is your relationship like with her now?

We tend to, once in a blue, get together. We mostly text. Even when she knew I was going to come back on the show she checked on me like “hey how are you?” This was prior to filming and everything. We have a good relationship and I’m so thankful for her. I can’t imagine where I would be today if it wasn’t for her starting that process of change for me. She’s been great and yes, we still keep in touch.

Are you friends with any other girls on the show besides Shaunie?

Let’s just say this, I don’t have a problem with anyone on the show other than Jackie. People didn’t understand why I got up when Brandi came in or why I didn’t film with certain cast members too much. That had to do with my stance on the production company. When I came back to the show their pitch to me was they’re trying to change the direction of the show. They wanted to add substance and depth, all that stuff. When old cast members started chiming in I was like “what the hell is going on?” I’m not trying to go backwards.

Let’s make it clear I don’t have a problem with anyone on the show other than Jackie. I can sit and have a conversation with anyone else but her. My issue was with production telling me one thing, and then things started to go into a different direction. I didn’t know what was going on. I can get up and leave. I don’t have to force certain things. I don’t have to film certain things that’s why I got up and walked away because I was confused. “What’s going on?”

Sometimes it’s just better to be quiet. On the show some people are like they’re acting like this, you should say something. I would’ve stood there and argued with you about nothing, and then you would say we’re acting like b-tches. When in fact I’m suppose to get up and do the mature thing because I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t want to engage and I didn’t want to argue. I don’t want to fight about nothing. This means nothing to me so I’m going to get up, walk away, and be quiet that’s the best thing for me to do. I know that’s what I should do and that’s what I did.

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