Reality series aren’t going anywhere, as they are easy and cheap to make and “characters” just keep coming out of the woodwork. But when it comes to capturing true, honest portraits of people whose lives are worth watching, none might be more necessary that Push Girls. The Sundance Channel’s new docu-series follows four women who have been paralyzed in car accidents and are now living in wheelchairs. But it’s not one big sob story — these women are some of the most insightful, active and three-dimensional females on television.
Tiphany Adams is one of those women. After losing the use of her legs from a drunk driver-caused car accident at age 17 (she was the only survivor), Tiphany refused to let anything set her back from achieving everything she wants in life. A model and an actress, Tiphany is also very active in the wheelchair community, alongside her other Push Girls, who are her three best friends. What sets Tiphany apart from them, among other things, is that she openly dates women.
“It wasn’t like Katy Perry kissed a girl, now I’m gonna kiss a girl,” Tiphany told me at the TCA Cable day. “It wasn’t like that. At a young age — I want to say 14 — 14 was my first experience with a woman and I don’t think my family knows that yet but now they do. It was always something in the back of my mind: ‘Am I really that attracted to women? But then again I’m so attracted to men.’ I was very confused and I don’t like to label myself. I don’t like to categorize my sexual preference. I fall in love on a soul to soul level.”
Although she is out to her family, Tiphany said she was still apprehensive about being out on camera. “It’s like ‘now you’re in a relationship with a woman and now it’s going to be on national television.’ My dad’s always been very accepting and I didn’t really tell him until I was 18 or 19, ‘I kind of have a girlfriend right now.’ He’s like, “You know what? I could care less if you’re in love with a purple shoe, as long as that purple shoe is going to love you whole-heartedly and treat you better than anyone else, that’s all that matters.”
Fortunately, Tiphany’s partner is not a purple shoe, but a real live woman, and we’ll see their relationship unfold on camera.
“The girl I am dating now, I mentioned to her, ‘You know, in a few month’s time, I just want you to be prepared because my life is going to be on air and on camera and I can’t guarantee you anything at this point other than I will be honest and straightforward and tell it like it is.’ That can be a fault from time to time, but in all reality I just want to be as straightforward as possible in regards to my relationship stuff. So I told her I’m totally enjoying this journey right now, but am I ready for marriage? Not exactly yet. When it all came down to it, she was like ‘Oh my god, oh my god!’ It was an intense few weeks. Trying to grasp it all: ‘There’s a camera in my face!’ She’s like ‘How can I be myself when there’s a camera there?'”
For Tiphany, it was easier to get used to the cameras being there, which she said is probably because she’s “used to being looked at.”
“I tend to embrace it a little bit more,” Tiphany said. “With people, it’s kind of an eye catcher. You see someone rolling by with 20 inch rims on the side of their ass, it’s a head turner. So I’ve been accustomed to know people are always generally watching. So I think with cameras being on me it’s kind of like second nature.”
Tiphany became involved with the show after meeting her friend, Angela Rockwood, who came up with the idea for the series. “We immediately had this soul connection that was really beautiful,” Tiphany said. “She’s a very spiritual person. And I think I said something really profound when I met her — in her eyes — that I know I’ve been pulled to L.A for a specific reason and I don’t necessarily know exactly what that reason is yet. She kind of watched me for a year and what I was doing in the community just volunteering and being active and then she kind of mentioned about the show, that she had this vision. She wanted to have four angels, that she called them, be out in the public for the masses to educate and remind people to live their life through all tragedy and just push forward through that. And I was doing that already in my own life.”
Hailing from a small Northern California town, Tiphany said she was worried (and still is, a little bit) about her nieces and nephews becoming ridiculed for her choices.
“I don’t want them to be affected by my sexual preference,” she said. “I’m thinking kids can be cruel, and that was my main concern more than anything. I just didn’t want my nieces and nephews to have any repercussions because of my acts. But what it comes down to at the end of the day is I’m an amazing aunt and they love me for who I am, just as anyone I cross paths with falls in love with my spirit and my enthusiasm for life — and my straightforwardness and I think that’s what really really matters at the end of the day.”
Tiphany is an open book, but she does sound a bit trepidatious still when talking about her love life. She sounds like she’s still trying to convince herself that she’s made the right decision in being out on camera, but the show is still months from its premiere on Sundance. Mostly she doesn’t want people to refer to her as bisexual, because it doesn’t feel right to her.
“I’m like “No, I don’t want that label,'” Tiphany said. “I feel like everyone’s in a box and categorizing people and I think we all need to break and shatter stereotypes, and go above and beyond the obvious and stop connecting on that level. I think about all of the women and men and all the people in general that are able to connect and relate and I’m thinking that is what is getting me through this, and the fact knowing that I’m going to have an amazing support system on all areas, on all sides, just from being true.”
Besides her romantic life, we’ll see Tiphany revisit the scene of her accident alongside family and friends, as well as living a full life in Los Angeles.
“I’m definitely not boring,” Tiphany said. “It’s very hard to keep me in one place for too long. I really like to keep active whether it’s through working out or going out on the town, attending different events. Being as busy as possible tends to be my MO. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy my solitude from time to time and I need that to recoup. When I have my alone time, I do my meditating and praying and study, I love to study.”
And what she wants people to take away from Push Girls and her story, specifically, is to be true to yourself; to learn everything you can about yourself and make yourself happy, above all.
“Embrace life fully,” Tiphany said. “Yes, people are going to be critical; people are going to be judgmental. People are always going to have opinions, but as long as you’re secure with who you are, and you exude confidence, that’s sexy.”
Push Girls premieres this spring on The Sundance Channel.