- Erica Ponder
‘College Hill: Celebrity Edition’: Celebs Nene Leakes, Slim Thug, Lamar Odom, India Love tell all
Updated: Jul 10, 2022
HOUSTON — Well the summertime is here and class is over for most, but the world is excited to see some of their favorite celebrities ace their first semester at a historically Black college!
Notable celebrities Nene Leakes, Ray J, Lamar Odom, Big Freedia, Stacey Dash, DreamDoll, India Love, and Slim Thug got the experience of a lifetime while living together and taking classes at Texas Southern University for College Hill: Celebrity Edition. The eight-episode series explores college life through their eyes while showcasing the unique cultural and academic experience of HBCUs.
‘It’s changed dramatically’: Favorite classes, memorable moments and more with Nene Leakes and Slim Thug
No matter how much fame they may have, each cast member took on the sometimes tough commitment of pursuing a higher education. For some of them, like Real Housewives of Atlanta favorite Nene Leakes and Houston’s own Slim Thug, it was their second shot at pursuing their degree. Leakes studied Mass Communications at Morris Brown College and took classes at Clark Atlanta University, but said her experience at TSU made her realize just how much HBCUs have evolved. “Oh it’s changed dramatically,” she said while raving about the Chick-fil-A, pool hall and other amenities TSU has to offer.
For Slim, who had the home advantage, the experience was “amazing.”
“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 continued, also revealing that he enrolled at TSU after graduating from high school but decided to leave when his dream of becoming a rapper took precedence.
And while the show is rather entertaining so far, the celebrities proved that they weren’t just at the university for that reason. Leakes revealed that a law class with Judge Walker became of great interest to her, despite how intense the course got at times.
“She’s definitely a character. In the beginning, it was intimidating,” she said as Slim co-signed with laughter. “She is really a cool lady, so I really loved the law class.”
Slim mentioned he liked going to the law, African-American Studies and business marketing courses, among others. “The whole experience was impactful to me. I really enjoyed it,” Slim said. “I would say that I was more interested in African-American Studies just because of the history, learning about your history more than anybody else’s.”
In addition to the rigorous curriculum they followed while still juggling their everyday jobs and businesses, the cast engaged in many eye-opening discussions amongst each other. Slim had an important conversation with New Orleans Bounce legend Big Freedia about Freedia’s preferred pronouns as someone in the LGBTQ community.
“That definitely helped me in daily life. Now I know how to address people and give everybody their equal respect, so it’s amazing,” Slim said.
While Leakes believes that college is not for everyone, she still encourages 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,” Nene 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… And studying is difficult. [As Slim and I both said] We had no study habits, we couldn’t focus, it’s a lot.”
Slim encouraged young people to pursue college straight out of high school, if possible.
‘I didn’t feel ashamed to raise my hand’: Unique pride at HBCUs and overcoming doubts with India Love and Lamar Odom
Social media influencer India Love and former NBA star Lamar Odom shared how they felt their HBCU experience helped them overcome personal hurdles of doubt while boosting their confidence. Meaningful relationships were also formed in the process.
India, who was excited for viewers to see her in a different light other than on Instagram, was grateful that a long overdue linkup with rapper DreamDoll turned into a bond that helped her come out of her shell.
“It was a good balance, because she’s more of the outspoken one and the one that is very assertive and puts her foot down, and whatever she feels, it’s gonna be said,” India said. “Me, I’m kind of like the one who hesitates to talk, doesn’t speak unless spoken to, and I’ve learned a lot about how to be more bold and vocal…”
Throughout the process, India had talks with cast members about trying to figure out who she is as a young woman who is trying to be intentional about her growth. She credited DreamDoll for being one of the people that helped her tap into that.
“It was just rubbing off on me, the fact that she’s very sure about herself,” India said. “We were bouncing off of each other.”
What made Lamar’s HBCU experience so special was the love and pride shown amongst the campus community that ultimately rubbed off on him.
“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,” he said.
India described the overwhelming support she felt while trying to navigate learning at a university that many HBCU students can relate to and often speak of.
“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… It just felt like being around people who genuinely wanted to see you grow and do better.”
Lamar, who reportedly had 12 strokes and six heart attacks as he laid in a coma in 2015, looked forward to being able to go back to school due to the importance of learning.
“My grandmother used to always say something— ‘If you stop learning, it’s when you stop living.’ And so just because of what I’ve been through, I plan on living a long time. So it’s always time to learn,” he said.
While India and other cast members were glad to take advantage of the opportunities given to them while at TSU, she expressed that one cast member didn’t. That cast member was controversial Clueless star Stacey Dash.
“It was the moment where we all just didn’t agree with her lack or participation in the house,” she said. “She signed up for school, but she also signed up to our household that we got to stay in and that requires getting to know each other… she wasn’t open or participating.”
Overall, Lamar and India encourage students seeking to attend an HBCU to do the research for themselves, especially if they have heard negative things about them.
“Just give it a shot. Go down there and take a visit, and I bet you— just give it a shot for yourself,” Lamar said.
“And ask people who actually attend how they feel about it,” India chimed in. “I think nine or 10 times out of 10, it’s just going to be the real of just everybody wants to see each other grow and everybody wants to help. That’s really the message I got from being there— an extra family, an extra push, an extra whatever you need— the battery in your back you need to further yourself in whatever way you’re trying to.”
College Hill: Celebrity Edition can be watched now on BET +.