By RODNEY HO/ firstname.lastname@example.org, originally filed Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Sherri Shepherd, host of WE-TV’s “Bachelor”-type series “Match Made in Heaven,” doesn’t undersell Atlantan and former pro football player Stevie Baggs to 18 women vying for his arm in marriage.
“He is chocolate goodness,” Shepherd purred in the opening minutes of the debut episode set to air May 19 at 10 p.m. “Yummy! If you are borderline diabetic, you are going to need insulin! His shoulders are broad, his arms long.”
And naturally, many of the women are instantly smitten and quickly begin maneuvering for his attention.
Baggs is not just a pretty face and hot bod. The 34-year-old retired defensive linebacker, who spent several years with the Canadian Football League, runs a charity Ceta Youth Foundation which operates after-school programs for four Atlanta public schools with a focus on health and wellness. He owns the Dream Cafe in Castleberry Hill, where he holds events and makes a mean chicken salad sandwich. He also has a daughter from a previous relationship but has never been married.
On the show, the Midtown resident claims he made $5 to $7 million playing football and has made even more as an entrepreneur. “I’m already successful,” he declared on the show, “but I need a woman to make me significant.”
Baggs began his non profit with his mother Lana Robinson when he started his professional football career in 2004.
The Florida native moved to Atlanta a few years ago because of his mom. “She just loves black entrepreneurship and the presence of so many black people doing well,” he said.
Not surprisingly, Robinson will play a major role in helping her son pick his potential future wife. She will live in the house with the 18 women, watching their every move and providing insight into who is acting a fool and who can hold themselves together in such an estrogen-filled environment.
His mom is “opinionated and driven and vivacious,” he said. “So many different qualities I admire.”
He had never watched “The Bachelor” (which has never had a black “Bachelor” lead) but was intrigued by the WE-TV pitch. Once on set, he said he thought he was able to discern which women were there for him, as opposed to camera time. But he admits he has been “fooled by the eyes” in the past.
“So many of these women are bosses in their own right,” he said, including a spa owner, an attorney and a professional dancer, along with a model, a flight attendant and a 24-yearold virgin home care provider.
Baggs can’t say if he truly found the woman of his dreams. But he knew what he was seeking going in.
“I’m looking for women who has a consciousness,” Baggs added. “A woman who loves her family. A woman who has ambition. A woman who has faith in the Creator. A woman who can pull the greatness out of me and vice versa.”
While “The Bachelor,” with a much bigger budget, will fly its cast to Europe and the Dominican Republic, “Match Made in Heaven” kept it all in California, except for his hometown visit to Atlanta. “We filmed in my cafe,” he said. “I had a huge bowling charity event to raise money for needy families.”
Baggs loves to do inspirational speaking, focused on vision, passion and purpose. “I want people to be purpose chasers, not paper chasers,” he said.
He has also dabbled in acting, nabbing small roles in USA’s Atlanta-produced drama “Necessary Roughness,” the Tyler Perry show “For Better or Worse” and the Will Smith film “Focus.” He will play a sportscaster in an upcoming Ang Lee film “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” starring Kristen Stewart, Vin Diesel, Steve Martin and Chris Tucker.
“Match Made in Heaven,” 10 p.m. Thursdays, WE-TV, starting May 19, 2016