By Aswad Walker
College Hill: Celebrity Edition cast members. Photo courtesy BET+
Texas Southern University has found itself in the center of the pop culture world with the premier of the BET+ reality series “College Hill: Celebrity Edition.”
Viewers got their first glimpse of the eight-episode series following the 2022 BET Awards. The show follows eight celebrities as they are fully immersed in an HBCU experience set against the backdrop of the campus of TSU. TSU was chosen in a national search for the opportunity to highlight the campus, academic programs, and students.
One of the emerging stars of the show is TSU professor, Dr. Michon Benson, who teaches one of the courses cast members NeNe Leakes, Ray J, Lamar Odom, Big Freedia, Stacey Dash, India Love, DreamDoll and Slim Thug AKA Big Slim take during their “College Hill: Celebrity Edition” experience.
“I agreed to participate in the show because I wanted the world to perceive TSU as an ‘education destination’,” said Benson. “The university features so many great faculty and top-tier programming.”
As the series moves forward cast members will work toward completing a specialty certificate program allowing them to walk across the graduation stage.
“Having the cast and crew of ‘College Hill: Celebrity Edition’ on our campus was a special experience for Texas Southern University and a unique opportunity to introduce TSU to new audiences,” said TSU vice president for communications and advancement Melinda Spaulding. “The multiple positive interactions with students and the highlighting of our president and faculty will show the world what we already know about Texas Southern.”
Spaulding also shared that BET’s relationship with the Third Ward-located HBCU is going beyond the reality series.
“BET also partnered with [TSU] for scholarships and gifted our students with an amazing Culture Fest culminating experience. We hope our participation will enhance the interest in not only the Texas Southern University, but all HBCUs,” said Spaulding.
For Benson, an award-winning professor, she viewed her participation as an opportunity to share TSU’s story with the world.
“I’m not in control of the [show’s] editing process, but I tried my best to create meaningful curriculum, and I invested as much energy into teaching the on-air class as I do for my other courses. If the show can encourage prospective students to enroll in college, particularly in TSU, I’ll feel good about my role in the project,” shared Benson.
The series is produced by Edmonds Entertainment, founded by award-winning executive producer Tracey Edmonds, Sean Rankine and Mark Seliga for This Way Out Media and Tiffany Lea Williams for BET+. “College Hill: Celebrity Edition” is a reimagining of the “College Hill” series that initially ran in the early 2000s following the lives of students at different HBCUs.