“Little Women: LA”
Known as the show that spawned the “Little Women” franchise, “Little Women: LA” is a Lifetime reality series that premiered in May 2014. The principal cast members are women who were born with dwarfism and live in Los Angeles; to date, the show has run for eight seasons and boasts over 135 episodes.
The main cast members are Terra Jolé, Tonya Banks, Elena Gant, Christy McGinity, and Briana Manson. Secondary cast members include Traci Tsou, Jasmine Sorge, Brittney Guzman, and Mika Winkler.
Tonya Renee Banks hails from Carson, California, and was born in July 1964. Prior to starring in “Little Women: LA”, Tonya was already a seasoned actress and stuntswoman with decades of experience in the industry.
Some of Tonya’s notable projects include “Bad Santa”, “Death to Smoochy”, and “The Internship Games”; after appearing in the last film, she made history as the first little person to be the female lead of a movie.
Although Tonya isn’t doing much acting these days, she’s successfully switched over into the entrepreneurism lane with her own activewear line, “Lil Boss Body Activewear”. The “Little Women” alum also has a wine line, “L’Tonya Renee Red Blend Wine”.
The multi-skilled reality star recently started her own production company, One Bossey Productions LLC., and is also the CEO. In 2017, Tonya was thrilled to accept the MCPA Award for Most Diverse TV Moment; in the past, she also opened up about her difficulties in becoming one of the first little black women to break out in Hollywood.
If that wasn’t enough, Tonya is also a budding author, with one book to her name: “It’s Not What You’re Called, It’s What You Answer To”. The savvy businesswoman has also recently started to sell her own angel cinnamon spread via her website; however, it remains to be seen whether Tonya will delve deeper into the world of cuisine by releasing more food products.
The star’s multiple revenue streams guarantee that, even if she were to leave the “Little Women” franchise, she wouldn’t be hurting for money. For a while, Tonya has been accepting bookings for personal appearances, public speaking gigs, and even the occasional hosting.
However, Tonya sparked concern amongst her fanbase after she revealed that she had been battling Bell’s palsy, which is paralysis or weakness of the facial muscles. The reality star had previously been seen out and about sporting an eye patch; blaming her condition on stress, she spoke on the isolation that she felt as a consequence.
Treatment for Bell’s palsy normally involves taking steroids; those suffering from the condition can take up to two months to make a full recovery. In one episode of “Little Women: LA”, Tonya and her costar Elena Gant went for a cryotherapy session, thinking that it might help. Though Tonya hasn’t provided fans with any health updates recently, internet sources report that she has since made a full recovery.
As for Tonya’s love life, she was in an on-and-off relationship with Kerwin Johnson for close to three decades, and share a daughter named Angelique Johnson who was born in 1992 and prefers to stay out of the limelight. Fans rejoiced when Tonya and Kerwin became engaged in the sixth season of “Little Women: LA”, but sadly they revealed in the season seven premiere that they’d called the engagement off, and eventually broke up for good.
The cast members of “Little Women” have been embroiled in several scandals over the years. Briana Renee’s estranged husband, Matt Grundhoffer, was accused of sexual assault in 2018. The assault allegedly took place while he was working at the Child Study Treatment Center, when Matt’s patient was a minor.
— The Ashley (@TheAshleysRR) November 22, 2017
During court proceedings, the court ordered Matt’s medical records and other personal information. News outlets claim that the defendants – namely, the Department of Social and Health Services and the Child Study and Treatment Center – filed for a protective order against the plaintiff. Matt’s alleged victim, who preferred to remain anonymous, claims to have been an underage patient when Matt was working at the treatment center as a counselor from September 2009 to November 2010, when the assault allegedly took place.
According to the plaintiff and her legal team, she was groomed by Matt during their counseling sessions, progressing from a romantic relationship to a sexual one. Based on his “position of authority and trust”, the plaintiff allegedly became emotionally dependent on Matt, which is when she was taken advantage of by him.
Months earlier, Briana had already filed for divorce from Matt after news outlets began reporting on his horrifying sexting scandals. She also requested a domestic violence restraining order against him a fortnight after the incident. Apparently, Briana found graphic texts on her husband’s phone in which he and other women spoke of bestiality and proposed sex acts with minor children. A few months later, a judge granted a five-year restraining order.
Although Briana was lucky in love the second time round and married her boyfriend just two months after divorcing Matt, she was forced to leave the “Little Women” franchise due to the negative effect Matt’s behavior was having on her brand. Even before the sexting incident and alleged assault of a minor, Matt was a well-known philanderer, and Briana had already broken up with him at least twice.
We’re not finished yet loves! Tomorrow night the Little Women LA reunion is ON , and all gloves are coming off 👊🏻… …
Posted by Briana Renée on Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Terra Jolé, who is white, also made headlines after announcing that she’d partnered up with the Black Girl Moscato brand. The reality star was hesitant to tell her friends about it due to the brand’s controversial name, and an inter-racial discussion ensued almost as soon as she announced the big news. Tonya, in fact, walked out of the room as soon as Terra revealed her new partnership, despite Terra herself asking her to be the face of the wine. African-American viewers also lambasted Terra online, with Tonya’s strong reaction causing Terra to walk away from the business deal shortly afterwards.