"Ultimately, this is my end game, and my goal, and my legacy: I will have my own ministry. I will have my own non-denominational, non-judgmental, love revolution type of ministry. Because the world needs that, and I think that's where my heart is going to ultimately land. That's gonna be what you'll see on my headstone."
These aren't the words of a Christian Instagram influencer live-laugh-loving herself into being a fixture on one of Joel Osteen's endless shows, or a megalomaniac rapper fashioning himself into a born-again cult leader. These are the words of Tiffany "New York" Pollard, the woman we grew to know and love since the moment she stepped her French-manicured foot on the Bachelor-on-acid VH1 reality dating show Flavor of Love, which led to her eventually becoming the undisputed queen of reaction memes.
The days of confidently walking into a room, cheerfully saying good morning to every woman except one (whom she lets know "can choke") are mostly behind her.
"I don't think people know how important it is for me at this phase of the game to always be my authentic self. You're going to see glimpses of me today, and you're still gonna see New York. You're not ever gonna lose the whole you," she told VICE over the phone. "But there's growth there. No one should stay absolutely the same."
That growth is evident on her VH1 online series Brunch with Tiffany , which premiered its second season on October 8. On the show, Pollard sits down for a lively, often raw conversation—frequently fueled by mimosas, the requisite beverage of brunch—with reality stars, actors, and other celebrities of a certain pop culture echelon. Real Housewives' Sonja Morgan talked sex and surgery on season 1, and Charlamagne Tha God opened up about privilege. Season 2 kicked off with Love and Hip Hop: New York star Cyn Santana, who revealed previously undisclosed details about her breakup with broadcaster Joe Budden. The candidness of these conversations is arguably due to Pollard's notoriety as a no-nonsense figure—a HBIC, head bitch in charge—so you know to keep it real with her. But she also exudes an oddly nurturing energy that creates a safe space for celebrities to talk, something that may come as a shock to those who watched her ruthlessly and hilariously drag her competitors for years on reality TV.
"I think the main thing is people, they probably didn't expect to feel this energy from me. When you sit across from me and you look into my face, and ultimately into my eyes, you can see that there's no BS there," she said. "I'm not there to drag anybody; I'm not there to make anyone feel worse than what they felt before they sat down with me. I'm just there to be a friend—a big sis, if you will—and give them a platform to say what they may have always wanted to say. But there's always a zone of comfort there, and I think people pick that up and are able to pour out."
In her 37 years on earth, Pollard has learned a few things—some of them the hard way. As she put it, "Life has occurred. Life has happened to me." But all of those unexpected challenges have given her a newer understanding of who she is, what she wants, and how to get there. For a reality star, she's surprisingly interested in returning to, well, real reality. Once a champion of plastic surgery, she decided to remove her breast implants (the process of which, she notes, will be shown on the E! plastic surgery disaster show Botched) because she's "back recognizing in my own life that natural is beautiful, too." Instagram filters? "I was literally thinking the other day, 'Bitch, if you don't lay off of these damn filters and start posting pictures of yourself again!' Because I was falling into that trap. It's okay to hit that filter once in a while, but embrace yourself. Embrace where you are with your age."
When it comes to sex and sexuality, she encourages people to like whatever they like "and don't apologize for it." As far as relationships, she says "nobody is responsible for your happiness. You have to maintain that on your own, and you have to find that on your own." She's come to understand that she needs counseling to maintain healthy relationships, "because if the relationship is not 1,000 percent about me I'll run off and cheat. I'm not gonna lie. I'm gonna be a big person here and say that might have a lot to do with some insecurities I'm carrying that I may need to discover and work on."
It's this forthcoming nature that makes her relatable, and allows her to create an instant bond even with a relative stranger. It's also what's helped her thrive. Within 10 minutes of chatting on the phone, she offered me genuine relationship advice, the kind a best friend delivers with care and a few loving deployments of the word "bitch." Then added, "I didn't overstep boundaries, now did I?"
"I want people to notice, 'hey, yeah, that's New York, but she also brings this other thing to the table,' which is wisdom, support, an acknowledgement of uplifting people," she said.
It's not only on Brunch with Tiffany that she plans on doling out the advice of an older, wiser HBIC, but through "spiritual vitality courses" she is working to build. In them, she will meet people on Sundays to talk about their lives and teach them about their "tri-part being." ("An apple has a core, it has the meat, and it has the skin. That's how we're made; we have a spirit, we have a soul, and we live in a body, " she explained.) This will also help her form her ultimate dream: her own ministry. Considering that the church is in her genes—her mother, Sister Patterson, is a minister—and Pollard's evolution of self and ability to connect with the masses, it doesn't sound far-fetched. Actually, a Tiffany Pollard Sunday Service doesn't just sound like her plan, but god's plan.
Alex Zaragoza is the senior culture writer at VICE, who can die happier having spoken to Tiffany Pollard. Follow her on Twitter.