Senior prefect stars on reality TV

By Annie Dreyer

While flipping through the channels on a Tuesday night, one sees “Anderson Cooper 360” on CNN, “Cribs” on MTV, “That’s so Raven” on The Disney Channel and senior prefect Gaven Lucas ’08 exclaiming “I want to be the second Black President” on BET’s “Baldwin Hills.”

“Baldwin Hills” is a reality show on BET featuring African-American teenagers in Los Angeles. The creators of “Baldwin Hills” aim to feature African-American teenagers in a positive light by showcasing those in the affluent African-American community.

A student government veteran, Lucas’ title on the show is “the prez,” according to BET.com. On the show, Lucas is commonly seen with his family discussing his future, his schoolwork and his political involvement at school.

“I made sure I was mindful of what I was saying and doing because I knew that it could be potentially twisted to fit the needs of the show,” he said.

Lucas found that the producers were often desperate for a dramatic story line and that “some of the scenes were manipulated and weren’t as real as they were when we filmed them,” he said.

After Ashley Calloway, a fellow cast member and a good friend of Lucas, heard about the role and the casting directors’ need for male cast members, she informed Lucas of the possibility. Two weeks after he interviewed for a role on the show, Lucas was informed that he had been cast.

Since it is a reality show, Lucas was only filmed once or twice a week, usually on weekends.

“One of the best aspects of the reality show was the freedom and flexibility of the filming days,” he said. “All the cast members signed contracts but if you couldn’t make it to the set on certain days, it wasn’t a problem, as it would be if were shooting a regular TV show or a movie.”

Other perks of his newfound celebrity status include an invitation to the BET Awards, the Essence Festival and an appearance on “106th and Park,” a music video countdown show on BET.

The show has brought attention to Lucas from strangers and friends.

“It’s kind of cool having people recognize me although at times it was a little awkward,” he said.

There is a message board devoted to Lucas on the BET website displaying a variety of comments, ranging from “Gaven you’re like a mini Denzel right now! Hot!!!!” to “unlike your friends, you seem to be the only one that has some sense.”

Either way, most of the responses to Lucas’ stardom have been positive, and some of his family members and friends were even more excited about the show than he was.

Despite being unsure as to the future, if any, of the show, Lucas would sign on to do another season if the opportunity arose.

“I am especially excited to be a part of a show that portrays a positive image of the black youth rather than classic negative stereotypes,” he said.