Not everyone in Hollywood considers reality TV entries on a résumé to be a dealbreaker when casting for scripted fare. Halle Berry, for instance, chose The Real World: Los Angeles and Basketball Wives star Tami Roman to play her best friend in the new CBS drama Extant, partly because of Roman's reality TV experience.
"I think Halle understands the world that I come from. She was familiar with me being an actress for the past 15 years and then making a return to reality TV and a lot of people not understanding," Roman tells Yahoo TV. "'She may have started on reality, but she's been working successfully as an actress for 15 years, and Basketball Wives is not indicative of her body of work.' She knew the scrutiny that I came under for Basketball Wives, and I think she just wanted to help me get back into scripted programming and be classed as acting rather than [in] the reality aspect of things."
On Extant, Roman, who had recurring roles on the CBS vampire drama Moonlight and the TV One comedy Belle's, as well as guest roles on The Drew Carey Show, JAG, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, and The Parkers, plays Cass, the BFF and neighbor of Berry's Molly.
"We're family friends. We understand the life that she has with regards to being an astronaut and being away for a year," Roman says. "[Cass] basically is the friend that Molly… when she's looking for that familiar face or that soft place to land, Cass is always there. Molly is always throwing parties, always trying to find a way to incorporate herself back into the world that we live in, and, of course Cass is always going to be there for her."
Roman, who appears in multiple installments of the 13-episode series, is coy about what role Cass may play in the larger storylines of the series, including Molly's mysterious pregnancy (which somehow happened during her year-long, solo astronaut mission) and a conspiracy that involves Molly, Molly's boss (played by Michael O'Neill), and, most likely, that pregnancy.
"I'm just going to leave it at, Cass is a very dear friend of Molly's, and she serves as a soft place for Molly to land."
Meanwhile, even with her new gig co-starring with Oscar winner Berry in a show produced by Berry and another Oscar winner, Steven Spielberg, and a role in the upcoming National Geographic Channel Moors movie Siracusa, Roman isn't turning her back on reality TV. The future of Basketball Wives remains up in the air — "I really don't know if there's going to be another season of our particular installment," she says — but Roman and her daughters, aspiring musicians Lyric and Jazz, have filmed a pilot for a VH1 spinoff series that would follow the Roman women and their new lives in Houston.
As someone with a unique perspective — more than two decades of a career in reality and scripted TV — Roman, in fact, embraces the opportunities reality TV has afforded her.
"Scripted programming allows me to just go and play a character and become someone else and really delve into the craft of acting, which I love," says Roman, who also runs a lifestyle company with her own lines of cosmetics, jewelry, and wine. "Reality programming gives me the opportunity to be as transparent as I can be, because I think people learn from other people. I'm a person who, I embrace my mistakes. Everybody makes them. I choose to show the world mine and then show them how I deal with them, grow from them, learn from them. I always considered myself an open book. So I love both [genres] for different reasons.
"I don't think I've had any regrets [about reality TV], because I think that every situation I ended up in taught me something about myself. There are things that I sit back and go, 'That didn't go over too well,' or 'I'm sorry that I did that,' but it's like I said, each situation has helped me grow as an individual, so I don't regret them because I feel that I went through them for a reason."
She had the chance recently to add a peaceful footnote to one of her most infamous reality moments — one of the most infamous moments in Real World history — the blanket incident that led to comedian David Edwards's ouster from the house and the show.
[Related: 29 Most Memorable 'Real World' Stars]
"Before my mother passed, she lived in the same apartment complex in Beverly Hills as David did," Roman says. "I saw David, and we got a chance to talk and just say, 'That was so many years ago. If there are any problems, sorry, and let's move on.' We've had that conversation and became cool after that."
Back to the present (and future, where Extant is set), Roman says Berry was not only aware of her reality TV background, but she suspects the actress (herself a former baseball wife) has seen at least a few of her unscripted adventures.
"Real World she was familiar with. I think Basketball Wives is everybody's guilty pleasure. When I arrived on set, she had left me a beautiful card, and said 'I just felt you were the best person to play my sister girl on the show.' That let me know she may have watched a few episodes of Basketball Wives."
Extant premieres on Wednesday, July 9 at 9 p.m. on CBS.