Remember when reality TV seemed, dare I say it: real?
Not so much at its conception in the 1940’s with shows like Candid Camera, but more at the turn into the 21st century. It was when shows depicted the lives of ordinary people in various situations that appeared much like our own, or maybe so lavish that for thirty minutes to an hour we were instilled with a bit of playful envy to live a life similar to what we saw on screen. To find love on Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?, to live freely on The Hills and Baldwin Hills, and navigate the world even if foolish and crass on Jersey Shore. To most of us, those shows and the sentiment they offered was real. It didn’t take long for us to learn that they were in fact light conversions of the truth through scripted television.
Therein lies the problem with what most of us thought was reality TV – it wasn’t real. It was people placed in scenarios, lines developed by writers, and scenes of what was supposed to be real life either exaggerated or omitted by directors. But we get hooked on it almost like an addiction; at least I know I am. One of my favorite drugs of choice is Love & Hip Hop developed and produced by Mona Scott-Young with an obvious bias to the Hollywood series. While I have little connection to the lives and worlds of those on the show due to the outlandish nature of them all, there was one individual who seemed to be the most authentic within the bunch. On the show, Apryl Jones was depicted as the girlfriend to rapper and singer Omarion and later as the mother to his children with little other storyline. In spite of being portrayed in one angle, the manner in which Jones carried herself, spoke of her immediate family, and made efforts to discuss her career was refreshing. Although there’s a misconception of Jones, she’s much more than what viewers saw on screen. She’s a hardworking woman who was raised by her grandmother in the projects, but never let that hold her back. Growing up, she graduated top of her class with a degree in radiation science and worked in the fast-paced and often chaotic medical field. Unfortunately, little of that was mentioned on the show. As the season of Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood came to a close and another one shortly followed months later, Jones’ presence was missing from the cast.
It wasn’t until I attended an event she hosted and had the chance to interview her where I would find out that her brand new line of premium wines has been keeping her busy since she left the show. Debuting to the public on July 21, 2017 Jones announced her Apryl Wines brand. The handcrafted, small batch, aged in oak barrels product features four individual flavors. The A’mei La Vie Dry Red Wine ($25.45), A’mei La Vie White Wine ($12.70), Chardonnay ($16.95), and La Belle Semi-Sweet Red Wine ($16.95). Sampling each flavor I found them to be strong and robust. With little affinity to dry wines, I continuously sought after the La Belle Semi-Sweet for its pleasant balance of sweet with a contrast of the rich oak flavors.
In between sips and as Jones took a brief step away from interacting with her excited fans she and I spoke for a bit about how she developed her line of wine, the challenges she faced, and what keeps her motivated.
Follow My Gut (FMG): How did you come up with the idea of creating a line of wine?
Apryl Jones (AJ): The entire wine concept came because a friend of mine knew someone who worked at a winery. By the grace of God, the person at the winery was looking for someone to come over and to promote his business. In it, he was talking to a few people. The first person was Jennifer Lopez, Vivica A. Fox, and they didn’t have a third person. My friend suggested my name to him based on my love for wine and my following and he [and his team] thought I was perfect for the brand. They then decided to move forward with me.
FMG: How long did it take to conceptualize the wine and have a finished product?
AJ: It took about seven to eight months of going back and forth to the winery to make this wine.
FMG: You named two of your four Apryl Wines bottles, “Amei La Vie”. How did you come up with that name and is there any significance to it?
AJ: I really sat with myself and thought about what I wanted out of life and what meant a lot to me. I was really inspired by naming this after my daughter, Amei. Since I want to live a beautiful life and my daughter’s name means ‘beautiful’ and life is ‘la vie’ in French, that’s how I came up with the name.
FMG: What made you decide to choose four lines for your wine instead of simply one or two?
AJ: The owner and I decided to come up with that. We were originally going to do two, a red and a white, but we decided that wasn’t smart to do two because people would want a bit of variety. The owner and I chose to do a chardonnay, sweet, and a dry of the red and white.
FMG: Is the branding – logo, font, color, label – all you?
AJ: It was all me.
FMG: Did you have any challenges that might have set you back with producing the wine?
AJ: There are challenges every day. I’m a mom of two kids, being in the entertainment industry, not sleeping, and trying to make time to work on the wine was a lot. On top of that, I was working a full-time job doing radiation science at Martin Luther King hospital.
FMG: Have you had any issues working with men?
AJ: This was ok because I was introduced to the owner by a good friend and it just worked out because it felt like a family environment.
FMG: Do you have any suggestions you can offer on how to start your own business?
AJ: I’ll be honest with you, mine happened out of chance. For me I can only personally say from my experience you can have anything you want as long as you put your mind to it and believe you can really do anything you see fit.
FMG: Any tips on staying motivated even when you feel burned out?
AJ: You have to stay motivated and believe that God is going to guide you and that He’ll make sure you’re going to be alright. As long as you trust that, believe in the power of the tongue, and wake up every day saying “I’m going to get to a certain goal” the goal is going to be met, and many other goals are going to be met. It’s all about the energy and what you think.
FMG: Will we see the bottles in restaurants any time soon?
AJ: Right now it’s e-commerce and online first because I wanted it to be accessible to the fans. As of now we’re in the works of distributing in certain places, but all that is to come.
To learn more about Apryl Wines, her story, and to purchase the wine for yourself visit her website here.