When Bravo contacted Le’Dor Milteer about appearing on its new reality show, “In A Man’s World,” she jumped at the chance.
In the show, women would dress as men to prove how females are sometimes treated unequal to males in business, politics and other industries. Milteer, a Sandy Springs resident, was contacted by the network in January 2018, two months after losing the 2017 District 4 Sandy Springs City Council election to another woman, Jody Reichel, who garnered 64.4% of the vote.
“I think I felt obligated (to appear on the show),” Milteer said. “I think I had a story to share that was really important. As a woman and as a woman of color, and in a city that is very multicultural and doesn’t have (minority) representation on the council, me getting involved in politics and to get the voter turnout to have a 50% increase was huge.
“Even though I lost, I felt an obligation to the people who voted for me, to my city, my family or myself to tell my story. Even thought it has its ups and downs and was good and bad, I wanted to share that story. I just started my real life. Even though my campaign was over, my fight wasn’t.”
The show, which has four one-hour episodes airing Tuesdays at 10 p.m., features a different woman in each episode. It premieres Oct. 1, and Milteer’s episode is Oct. 8 (re-airing starting Oct. 9), with the final two episodes Oct. 15 and 22. She will appear on NBC's "Today" show (its parent company, NBCUniversal, also owns Bravo).
Milteer, who is black, and Reichel, who is white, faced off in an election to replace Gabriel Sterling, who vacated the seat to run for Fulton County Board of Commissioners chair. Voter turnout in the Sandy Springs District 4 election went up from 937 in 2013 to 1,528 four years later.
Sandy Springs has had some female government leaders in its short history, but not always. From 2005, when Sandy Springs was incorporated, through 2013, the city had a female mayor, Eva Galambos, and two female council members – Dianne Fries and Karen Meinzen McEnerny.
But its mayor and city council were made up entirely of white males from 2014 through 2017, prompting Milteer to run for office. Also, only one other black candidate, Oz Hill, has run for office in Sandy Springs’ history, and that was in 2005 for a city council seat. Hill has since moved to Atlanta and ran for city council there in 2017.
Milteer, a small business owner, and her husband Antoine had two young children – Christian, 7 years, and Phoenix, 17 months – at the time she qualified for the election in 2017. She said some residents she met during her campaign felt it was inappropriate to run for office while also having young kids, even pointing to a photo she took of her with her daughter at qualifying and used in her campaign.
“The picture society builds for women and not being put in a box,” Milteer said. “Very few people would be able to experience that in the form of those who (appeared on) the show experienced. (Fixing) the problem starts with me. I didn’t know that. I think I learned that along the way. … What happens is we go out there and expect people to go fight with us, but then it can’t happen. We can’t allow others to fight our fight. When women go and fight for whatever they believe, in, there are prejudices, but we still have to fight for things. …
“When I was knocking on everyone’s doors in my district, they wanted to have a conversation, saying, ‘How is it you’re going to have the time to lead the city?’ They would never ask my husband that. Never. It didn’t matter what their race was, what their sex was. Most people had that issue with me.”
Milteer said the show started taping in March or April 2018 and was filmed off and on for the next year. She said the experience was “life changing.”
“It … was an experience you can’t put into words,” Milteer said. “I wouldn’t be able to express it. … To be (wearing) prosthetics and having these amazing Oscar-winning makeup artists to come down and have motion coaches and voice coaches to speak as a man, that was a different level to me. …
“What this experience also did for me was to bring a real mirror right in front of my face and I couldn’t get away from it. There were certain things for me that I was fighting against. It was a challenge, but it was also a challenge for myself as well.”
Kate Bernstein, one of several executive producers for the show, whose lead executive producer is actress Viola Davis, works for Lucky 8, the New York-based production company producing the show. She said Milteer was chosen for “In A Man’s World” because of her story.
“The issue of women in politics is incredibly timely, both when we were casting and now, as it’s airing,” Bernstein said. “We were interested in that world and thought Le’Dor had a great story and was experiencing something that a lot of women, regardless of their industry or career, and a lot of young moms experience, which is a prejudice for being a mother and their ability to multitask. We thought her story was very relatable to a lot of women across the country.”
She said Milteer contributed to the show “a unique perspective of being a woman of color and a woman with young children.”
“There’s obviously a bias women face but there’s additionally a bias mothers face and women of color face,” Bernstein said. “Le’Dor … is very honest and she is very thought-provoking, and we felt she was a great mom and had really great ideas about politics, and was really well-rounded and could speak to all those experiences.
“For the show, I think it is both a timeless issue and a timely issue. It’s something that right now with #MeToo and Time’s Up and how women are being treated and their stories are told through the media, it’s incredibly timely to tell those stories from the women’s perspectives and to have an unbiased (social) experiment to show it.”
In October Milteer is releasing a children’s book, “Mom’s Best Job,” which she said helps mothers deal with “mom guilt.” Also, she will host an episode premiere party Oct. 8 from 8:30 to 11 p.m. at Havana Lounge, 6010 Sandy Springs Circle, Suite B1 in Sandy Springs.
For more information on the show, visit www.bravotv.com/in-a-mans-world.