Dorión Renaud was first introduced to us in 2008 on BET’s College Hill: Atlanta. Soon after, the Texas native saw great success as a model, gracing the pages of Vogue magazine, as a host on NBC’s EXTRA! and as an actor, starring in Bounce TV’s hit sitcom, In The Cut.
In 2018, Renaud launched his skincare line, Buttah, providing Black men and women with attainable solutions to their pressing skincare concerns. The success of Buttah, which has taken the skincare industry by storm, led to big-box retailer Macy’s carrying the full line.
Fast forward to now, Dorión is giving reality tv another go and can now be seen in the new MTV series The Real Friends of WeHo.
The series has not been warmly received online among the audience it is intended to reach.
In an act of support for ‘Real Friends,’ MTV made the choice to cut RuPaul’s Drag Race down from a 90-minute episode each week to just 60-minutes — leaving Drag Race fans disgruntled with the shortened runtime. The show now features less of Ru Paul’s interactions with the queens, a shortened runway, and no judges’ deliberations — for the first time in the show’s history.
The controversies don’t stop there, social media has had some pretty strong (and sometimes brutal) reactions to members of the ‘Real Friends’ cast — leaving the show to fight an uphill battle for success.
We spoke with Dorión about his decision to join the show, his experience filming, and what’s next for him.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity purposes.
How did you get involved with the show?
Dorión – I was approached back in March of 2021. It was pitched to me as The A-List: Los Angeles, it would supposed to be a reboot of the series The A-List: New York. [The A-List: New York was a tv series from Logo which ran from October 4, 2010, to October 17, 2011.] I was told it was going to be docuseries style that followed me working on my brand and showing parts of my personal life. Also, I was told the show would be on the streaming service Paramount+. I initially said no several times, but finally signed my contract at the last minute.
At the time, did you at least know who the other cast members were going to be?
Dorión – During the process of them courting me, production told me names of people who were being approached. Aside from Curtis [Hamilton] who I’ve been friends with for a few years, I had no idea who was on the show until filming. I was home filming stuff with Buttah for 2 weeks before I even met the cast. Production was very tight lipped about who was on the show. Keep in mind, the whole time I’m thinking the show is still A-List: Los Angeles.
[Multiple sources confirmed to us that the show was being pitched as a reboot, featuring people in LA LGBTQ community such as NSYNC member Lance Bass and his husband Michael Turchin as well as Riley Buss, the nephew of Jeanie Buss the controlling owner and president of the Los Angeles Lakers. Several of people who were contacted about the show say it was intended to be on the Paramount+ streaming service.]
When did you learn the show’s name changed from ‘A-List: Los Angeles’ and that it was going to air on MTV?
Dorión – I found out in the press release, we had no idea it was going to MTV and that it would take away from Drag Race. I watch Drag Race and I love Ru, he’s iconic. Again, I was still under the impression this was the A-List: Los Angeles for Paramount+ so I was shocked to find out it was going to MTV. I didn’t sign up for MTV. I also didn’t see the poster beforehand. I saw it at the same time as everyone else and that’s where I had a serious issue. They promoted the show as 6 gay men living in West Hollywood who are friends, first I don’t live in West Hollywood, I live in the valley, I love the valley. I never go to West Hollywood, I’m not in that scene. Aside from Curtis I wasn’t friends with any of the cast. I also have never confirmed or talked about my sexuality. I felt betrayed because they have me identifying as something I’m not. I’m Dorion Renaud.
The premiere episode ended with conflict between you and cast member Joey Zauzig. Can you explain what happened?
Dorión – Here’s the thing, during the pandemic I was home working. I really wasn’t social during that time and Buttah was my main focus. So that time period only amplified my anxiety, so here I am going into a scene with people I don’t know. I’m at the event, my anxiety is kicking in and I’m speaking with Curtis when this guy approaches [Joey] approaches, I was a little taken aback because I didn’t know who he was, this was the first time meeting him. [At one point in the scene you can hear Dorion ask Curtis is he on the cast.] I can say I didn’t handle it the best.
Also in the premiere, we saw a cameo by Issa Rae where she was having lunch with Curtis. Did you have any special guests film as well?
Dorión – Yes, I brought in Macy’s for the show, and I have Cassie shooting a campaign for Buttah. I spent a lot of my own dollars promoting my business for the series, because I was filming under the impression this was a docuseries that was following me the businessman. I was definitely misled; I can’t speak on what my other cast members were told.
In the trailer, we see a clip of you refusing to film with an individual because it would hurt your brand. Where you talking Chris Salvatore?
[Chris Salvatore alleged that the cast refused to film with him due to his career on OnlyFans and he was fired from the show.]
Dorión – Absolutely not, production kept me in the dark for so long about the cast, there’s no way I could say who comes and goes.
Last year, 3 gays from a certain reality show refused to film with me for having an OF so I was fired by production after filming for only a week. That’s about all I can say…for now ?
— Chris Salvatore (@CSalvatore) January 5, 2023
It sounds like there was a lot of dishonesty happening on the production side.
Dorión – It kinda happened to me on College Hill, but I was young and didn’t have a voice. But I do now, I addressed my concerns to the higher ups and was basically told to be a happy camper and to the promote the show. But I will not promote something that I cannot stand behind. I tried to leave the show several times, but I couldn’t.
Do you care to address any of the negativity surrounding the show?
Dorión – It’s crazy we are getting no support. There are people saying the most negative stuff online, some have gotten death threats and we aren’t getting any support from the network or production company. It’s not the cast fault that we ended up on MTV. I would not have signed on to this show if I knew about the name change, the theme of the show changing and the network change. I don’t feel comfortable representing a city/community that I’m not a part of.
Aside for the possibility of production showing the Macy’s and Cassie’s taping, is there anything viewers can expect coming up that stands out to you?
Dorión – Not really, I don’t know how much I will be shown this season because I didn’t film a lot with the cast. I really didn’t interact with the cast, aside for Curtis for maybe no more that 4 times. I really don’t know these people
Any last thoughts about your experience that you would like us to know about?
I will not be addressing any of this again for one. I will say that from what I’ve seen the production value is really good. [At time of publishing Dorion had not seen episode 2.] I will ask that the audience gives the cast some grace, everything in regards to scheduling, that is out of our control. Although I may not have worked a lot with the cast. I want to see everyone succeed.
So, what’s next for Dorion and Buttah Skincare?
There’s a lot of new exciting things coming, we have some new campaigns coming, some specialty collaborations and I’m really excited about dropping new products. Such as our new mini-Vibe brush which is coming out very soon.
For more about Buttah’s new mini version of their best-selling vibe brush click here. It retails for $39 – the brush is water-resistant and can be used in the shower and is great to pack for travel in their Bonvoy bag.
The Real Friends of WeHo airs on MTV on Friday nights at 9 p.m.