Pivot's new docu-series Jersey Strong, about the intersecting lives of two families living in Newark, New Jersey, premieres tomorrow at 10:30pm. Brooke is a criminal defense attorney who runs her own law firm with the help of her fiancé Maggie who oversees the office. The couple struggles to balance work life with home life and their two college-age children. The show also follows Jayda, a reformed gang member working to create a mentorship program for other women in her neighborhood while raising two children with her long-time fiancé - who was a member of a rival gang.
Before Saturday's premiere, we spoke with Brooke and Maggie about living together and working together and why it is important to tell the stories of families like theirs. Check out what they had to say below and don't miss Jersey Strong's series premiere on Pivot, Saturday September 14 at 10:30pm.
GLAAD: How did you get involved with Jersey Strong? What can viewers expect from the series/season?
BROOKE: We appeared in a show called Brick City with the same producers, Mark Benjamin and Marc Levin, whose track record making docu-style TV is highly respected. That project introduced us and we all felt there was so much more to be told about the parallel lives of Mag and I and Jayda and Creep a few years later. It has been a wonderful experience. We really let them shoot anything and everything…It shows the ups and downs, the tears and laughter and really embodies our lives how we live them. We take viewers on a journey inside our real day-to-day lives, which includes both trials and cases of real people whose lives are in our hands as well as what goes on in our home life, with our kids, Kevin and Nicole. Really everything from Nicole's graduation from high school and prom to us having real family dinners that Mag loves to prepare.
GLAAD: Brooke, what inspired you to go into criminal defense law?
BROOKE: This was not only my dream but my father's, who passed in 2005. The fact that I made him proud doing something that he wasn't able to pursue for himself makes me better at my job and life. I had a run in with the law when I was younger and saw firsthand the system and path I could quickly go down if I didn't straighten myself up. It is the most rewarding thing when one of my clients gets a second chance at life. I take each case very personally and feel bonded with each client who entrusts me to represent them for life.
GLAAD: What made you two decide to go into business together when Brooke opened her own firm?
MAGGIE: Brooke had a firm with a partner and when he very unexpectedly decided to leave, it seemed like a great opportunity to support her fully.
BROOKE: Mag quit her job, rolled up her sleeves (literally painting the walls), and worked with me day in and day out to create an atmosphere that clients wanted to be in. Our new law office became a modern safe-haven, a welcoming environment that clients could come to and know they were being taken care of. I couldn't have built that without Mag. Now, nearly 6 years later, our practice and our love are as strong as ever.
GLAAD: What has it been like both living and working together?
BROOKE: Getting to spend every day together both in our personal lives and in business has been the best experience for both of us. Maggie is a tremendous support system at the office. I trust her 100% and it is so incredible to have someone who I know is working towards the same goal as me.
GLAAD: Why do you think it's important to share stories about families like yours?
BROOKE: Reality TV so often focuses on the bad — the shocking – the lowest common denominator or what's happening in the country. Stories like ours and Jayda and Creep show people that are trying to make a difference. That love, that care, they are trying to change things not only for themselves, but also their communities and the better good of everyone. We're so thrilled that Pivot is allowing us to share our stories. They really are trying to change the dynamic and shine a spotlight on the good.
GLAAD: What do you hope viewers take away from your story?
BROOKE: Well we hope they are entertained, but also that they have a greater understanding for the way different people live their lives and the important and inspiring things they are trying to do.
Don't miss Brooke and Maggie on Jersey Strong on Pivot, Saturdays at 10:30pm. Find Pivot in your area here.