Jackie Christie Says Renewing Vows With Doug Christie Annually For The Last 28 Years Is A Key To Their Marital Success

Leon Bennett/Getty Images for VH1

If you’ve been waiting for the drama Basketball Wives LA (BBWLA) is known for to pop off this season, reality TV veteran Jackie Christie is right there with you.

“I’m waiting for something to drop,” she tells ESSENCE. “I’m ready for some typical Jackie Christie Basketball Wives LA. I need some of that right now.”

Christie, who joined the first spinoff of the hit VH1 series in its inaugural season in 2011, has been with the franchise for more than a decade and takes her obligation to portray the reality of being a woman married to a professional basketball player seriously. In fact, it’s what keeps her returning to the series year after year.

“I’m always hoping each season that we’re going to get to show the world because I know my fans want to see behind the curtain,” she says. “They want to see what the basketball wife life is like. And every season I keep thinking, ‘Oh, this is going to be the season. We’re about to do it.’”

Unfortunately, other storylines that don’t accurately portray her reality often get pushed, Christie says. Like, the idea of her being the one to stir the pot of drama, or the narrative that she’s a lush when it comes to alcohol. “I’ve never been drunk a day in my life,” says the reality star who has her own signature brand of cognac. “I don’t even know what it’s like to be drunk.”

Still, when BBWLA newcomer Vanessa Rider tells Christie she’s going to have to put the alcohol down if she wants to get in shape in episode one this season, the wife of Sacramento Kings assistant coach and former NBA player Doug Christie hilariously tells her, “I don’t know if I can do the no alcohol, but I do drink apple cider vinegar.”

Here, Christie opens up about Season 11 of Basketball Wives LA, the lifelong struggle that is her fitness journey, and why she’ll never stop traveling on the road with Doug or marrying him year after year.

ESSENCE: It’s Season 11. What keeps you coming back?

Jackie Christie: It’s my baby. I do it because I want to. My husband is very much NBA, and that life is what we live and I’m always hoping each season that we’re going to get to show the world because I know my fans want to see behind the curtain. They want to see what the basketball wife life is like. And every season I keep thinking, oh, this is going to be the season. We’re about to do it. And this last one, they were like, “We got a wife for you, girl. Her name is Vanessa.” I’m like, “Oh, yes. Okay, I heard about Vanessa Rider both of our husbands played together.” And then when I see it start panning out, it’s like it’s eight women, and it’s chopped up, so you only get to see a little bit. And then when you start showing a bunch of stuff that’s not our life… I keep coming back because I keep hoping.  But I do have a new show coming out where fans will get to see a lot more of the basketball life, wife, all of that, and Basketball Wives. So, I think together it’ll be a great combination.

What can you tell us about the new show?

JC: I can say that they’ve been offering me a show for a long time, and I kept turning it down. Basketball Wives is my baby. I will ride it to the wheels fall off. But I felt like there’s so much more to Jackie Christie that I need my fans to be able to experience and share in while it’s happening—not, I talk about it 10 years from now. So, it’s going to be an amazing situation. A lot of people will be involved and on the show that they will get to know and meet that per se might not want to come on Basketball Wives, but they’ll come on that one. So, I can say that.

That’s about it.

There was a really personal moment between you and Brooke [Bailey] in a recent episode where you bonded over your grief. In that scene, you talked about considering therapy to process the loss of your mother. Where are you with that now?

JC: I really feel like I haven’t grieved my mom and it’s very hard for me and it’s easier for me to just remember and think about my mom and us laughing and talking. I used to call her on the phone— her name was Cora— and I could be like, “Cora, what you doing?” She was my best friend. And when I talk about it, I get choked up because in my mind, I don’t accept that. I know she’s resting with God, but it feels like at any day, I could go in a room and talk to her. So, I will deal with that. I’m not ready now. VH1 was amazing in giving me all the tapes of our time together. They’re still in my drawer. One day I’ll unveil them, and I’ll watch them. But I think that’s some years to come.

In episode one, we saw you enlist Vanessa’s help to get in better shape after sharing fitness is a big struggle of yours. Have you made progress in that area?

JC: Yes, and it’s going to be a lifelong thing because I’m a candy eater and I love drinking my wine. I love having a cocktail here and there. And that’s another thing. I don’t like when the women put that context out there about other women being lush or drinking a lot or drunk. That’s not fair. And that’s not true. I’ve never been drunk a day in my life. So, you’re hearing that exclusively, never, ever, ever. I don’t even know what it’s like to be drunk. If I drink a shot, I usually sip two or three sips and I put it down. I have a cognac. So, if I’m going to get drunk, I’m going to get drunk on my cognac first. So, I’m like, why do they keep on putting this thing out here about me? It’s not true. But I definitely feel like with Vanessa, she’s a basketball wife and she gets where I’m trying to go and what I’m trying to do. I’ve got everything I could possibly want but I wanted to get fit, and everyone can watch my journey on the show and after.

People always think fitness should be easy for celebrities because you have money for things like personal trainers, in-home chefs, surgery even. What do you say to that?

JC: I laugh. I’m married to a world-class athlete. Yes, he’s coaching, but he’s also 5% body fat. I’m talking in the same shape as when he played; young, fine husband. If that were true, I would be in shape too. We have a whole gym upstairs. It looks like LA Fitness, but I don’t go in there. I want to go watch Netflix. I want to eat popcorn and watch movies in our theater with my husband. They don’t understand it’s a thing that you have to be mentally ready for. I struggle with that and I’m letting the fans follow me on that journey.

Speaking of Doug, this is his first year coaching full time, has it been difficult still finding time to spend together?

JC: It hasn’t because I’ve always traveled with my husband when he played, and I travel now. I’m there 80%, 90% of the time with him. We kind of pioneered that whole thing and I love it because Steph Curry’s wife, everybody, they all go on the road now. When we did it, it was like, “Oh, they’re crazy and she’s jealous,” and it was never that. It was always fun.

Well, speaking of “crazy,” everyone has had a lot to say about you and Doug renewing your vows every year as well. Yet, you’re one of very few couples to survive reality TV.

JC: You know what? I got warned. They said don’t put your marriage on there. It’s a thing. And I was like, “No, we want people to be able to see our truth because it’s so much stuff out there.” It’s been amazing. It’s going to continue to be amazing even after reality TV. Twenty years from now, God willing, we’re still going to be getting married. We get married every year and we’ve done it 28 times now.

Do you think that annual rededication is a big part of your marital success?

JC: Yes, we’re always planning a wedding all the time. Like right now, he said if I want to do Africa we can do it –I’m just nervous about all the shots you have to get – but that’s my dream and I think that’s what we’re doing next year. We’re always planning our future together. And I think communication is key. Respect, as well. You’ve got to respect yourself and your mate. I don’t do anything to him that I wouldn’t want done to me. We are still individuals. You still can live your life. I can hang out with my girlfriends here and there. He hangs out. I don’t party, he doesn’t party, so it’s also finding the commonality in the relationship. We’re 28 years in. It’s about loving your mate and keeping what that other person loves in the forefront and making sure that you guys are always talking things through. You’re going to have disagreements, but you talk about them as a team.

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