The untold truth of Little Women: LA

Groundbreaking reality TV shows such as Little People, Big World and The Little Couple brought television viewers into the homes of little people, who shared the everyday challenges and triumphs they experienced in their lives.

When the Lifetime network decided to launch a show focusing on little people, an element of The Real Housewives franchise was grafted on to result in Little Women: LA, chronicling the exploits of several female friends pursuing their dreams in Los Angeles. Launched in 2014, the show introduced viewers to Terra Jolé and a group of other “little women” making their way in the City of Angels, an evolving group that eventually came to include Elena Gant, Christy McGinity, Jasmine Arteaga Sorge and Tonya Banks. As a Lifetime press release declared, their small statures didn’t prevent them from living large, demonstrating to viewers “that height is just a number.”

Since its debut, the show has won countless fans and spawned some spinoffs, yet there’s a lot that even hardcore viewers may not realize about the popular reality hit. Keep reading to find out even more about the untold truth of Little Women: LA.

Jasmine Arteaga Sorge once competed on American Idol

Jasmine Arteaga Sorge has become a fan favorite on Little Women: LA, but when she was just 18 years old she had different aspirations when she stepped in front of Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell to audition for the third season of American Idol. As a video of her audition demonstrates, she appeared a bit nervous in front of the judges, but her diminutive size belied a powerful set of pipes that she put to good use on Christina Aguilera’s “I Turn To You.” Her performance is halted after about 30 seconds, however, when Cowell holds his hand up motioning for her to stop singing.

As Monsters & Critics recalled, both Cowell and Jackson (judge Paula Abdul was apparently MIA for the audition) liked what they’d heard, and sent her through to the Hollywood rounds. While she made it to the top 100, she was ultimately sent home in the group round of eliminations. 

Oddly enough, her brief time on American Idol has been commemorated in a trading card that can be purchased online.

Christy McGinity's divorce was a nasty one

Viewers of Little Women: LA followed Christy McGinity’s marital journey from the very beginning. For those who’d been paying attention, news that she and husband Todd Gibel were divorcing likely came as no surprise. What did prove surprising, however, was how ugly the couple’s divorce proceedings became, with McGinity’s divorce filing containing some truly shocking allegations. 

According to legal documents obtained by The Blast in 2019, McGinity met Gibel while filming the first episode of Little Women: LA and she alleged that from the get-go, he “intended on riding [her] celebrity status and defrauding [her] out of money.” Furthermore, she claimed he promised to find a job after moving in with her in California, but instead remained unemployed during the entire course of their marriage. She additionally alleged that he took out a number of personal loans and credit cards in her name, estimating he burned through between $65,000 and $100,000 by purchasing “various widgets.”

McGinity’s most eyebrow-raising allegation, however, was that she and Gibel had “never had sexual intercourse once.” Based on that claim, McGinity initially sought an annulment; according to TMZ, she ultimately settled for the next best thing by agreeing to a divorce. 

Jasmine Arteaga Sorge opened up about hair loss

Jasmine Arteaga Sorge has been candid about her struggles with hair loss, and in 2019 she partnered with Hair Club to share her own personal experiences. Hair Club — which specializes in hair restoration and replacement — issued a press release announcing she’d be speaking at a “hair health social” in California to answer questions from other women experiencing similar issues. “As a hairstylist and someone with intimate knowledge of the effects of hair loss on women, I have made it a mission to help other women regain their confidence,” she said in the press release. “I’m excited to host this event where I can converse with women about hair loss in a safe, discreet environment.”

In a profile on the Hair Club website, Arteaga Sorge revealed her struggles date back to her childhood. Born with thin hair, she recalled other children calling her “baldy” or asking her whether she was ill. “It was extremely difficult as a little girl to understand why my hair was different,” she confessed. “It brought me to tears many times.”

Arteaga Sorge credited Hair Club for its judgment-free consultation, admitting that the company had made her “hair dreams come true,” adding that “Once [she] had [her] dream hair, [she] changed as a person.”

Terra Jolé experienced 'animosity' from her co-stars

Terra Jolé is not only a star of Little Women: LA, she’s also one of the show’s executive producers; in addition, she’s also the exec producer on spinoffs Little Women: AtlantaLittle Women: NYLittle Women: Dallas and Little Women: Terra’s Little Family. During an appearance on the Share Your Shine podcast, Jolé admitted that her dual roles as star and producer have led to some tension between her and her co-stars. 

Asked about the “tough balance” involved in juggling her on-camera and behind-the-scenes roles, Jolé admitted that “there has been some animosity in the past” from her co-stars. Part of that, she said, is an outgrowth of her long relationships with the women, having known them long before casting them on the show. Not all of them, she explained, were her friends. “I think that was the easiest part for me was casting friends and enemies,” she said with a laugh. “I never thought I would give so many of my enemies a job.” One result of their long history together is firing up the on-camera drama, since “we definitely know all the ins and outs of what it’s like to hit them where it hurts.”

Eddie Murphy is a Little Women: LA super fan

Given that Little Women: LA remained a fixture on the Lifetime network since its debut in 2014, it’s no secret that there are a lot of viewers who tune in to watch the exploits of Terra Jolé and her cohorts. One of those fans is none other than Eddie Murphy. 

During a 2019 appearance on Live with Kelly and Ryan, the Beverly Hills Cop star was describing what he does when he does “nothing,” admitting, “I watch the Little Women from LA,” a confession that resulted in uproarious laughter from the studio audience along with hosts Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest. 

That wasn’t the first time Murphy declared his love for the series. A few years earlier, during a 2016 Q&A presentation for the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, Murphy was asked about which television shows he’d become obsessed with. In response, he revealed that he and fiancée Paige Butcher enjoyed watching Little Women: LA, in addition to Little Women: Dallas and Little Women: Atlanta. “Those shows are great television,” Murphy declared. 

Considering Hollywood hasn’t been casting Murphy as regularly anymore, we’re assuming he’s had a lot of time to keep up with his reality TV obsession.

Overcoming health issues made Jasmine Arteaga Sorge 'stronger'

A 2018 episode of Little Women: LA titled “Sins and the City” followed the women as they embarked on a trip to Las Vegas. One notable cast member missing was Jasmine Arteaga Sorge. In an interview with Hollywood Life, Arteaga Sorge discussed the “health issues” that prevented her from joining her co-stars, revealing that she had subsequently “overcome a lot of those health issues and become stronger.”

While she didn’t elaborate in that interview, she made a previous appearance on the daytime talk show The Doctors, in 2017, to open up about the health concerns she was experiencing. “With my type of dwarfism, it does also affect my immunity,” she said, explaining that she’s “at higher risk for leukemia or lymphoma because [her] white blood count is lower.”

Arteaga Sorge admitted that this elevated risk level left her in a constant state of anxiety. “It’s scary because the word ‘cancer’ is a huge word,” she said, pointing out that her sister had actually been diagnosed with leukemia. “Do I have a double chance of getting it?” she mused.

Has the little person community accepted Little Women: LA?

Given that Jasmine Arteaga Sorge auditioned for American Idol when she was 18 and subsequently joined the cast of a reality TV show, it’s safe to say that becoming a celebrity is something she’d pursued for a while. One aspect of the fame she’s gained from Little Women: LA has been the way she and the rest of the cast have been accepted by the little person community. According to Arteaga Sorge, it’s something of a mixed bag. “They either love us or hate us,” she told South Africa’s Channel 24. “I know that some are happy with us doing the show, others not so much.”

However, when weighing the pros and cons, she felt that Little Women: LA provides a unique platform to show viewers that just because the women are small, it “doesn’t mean that [they] don’t have the same problems as everyone else.” Arteaga Sorge explained her thoughts further, adding,  “sometimes we don’t feel accepted. We just want to feel accepted and let other people to [sic] know that we’re not just a joke… we want people to know we’re like everybody else.”

Breana Renee's ex was accused of a heinous crime

When former Little Women: LA cast member Breana Renee (who left the show after season six) was finally granted a divorce from Matt Grundhoffer, it came after a lengthy legal battle. According to RadarOnline, in court documents, the celeb alleged she had seen text messages between her then-husband and another woman that “involved bestiality and the proposals of sex acts with minor children, including the proposal of involving sex acts with Matthew’s minor child, age 12, from a previous relationship.” 

Those weren’t the only disturbing allegations to be made against Grundhoffer. RadarOnline also detailed the accusations of a woman who claimed he had sexually abused her in 2009, when she was a minor, at the facility where he worked as a counselor. When the case went to trial, the jury sided with Grundhoffer, but the plaintiff’s request for a new trial was subsequently granted. 

According to RadarOnline, Grundhoffer denied having sexual relations with the woman while she was underage. He did, however, admit to having sexually charged communications with her after she was of legal age, and had been released from the facility.

Sour grapes in the wine biz

When Terra Jolé wanted to launch a wine, the vino’s moniker — Black Girl Moscato — did not go over well with her Little Women: LA co-star Tonya Banks. In one season 7 episode, the friction between the two erupted into a full-blown feud after Banks refused Jolé’s request that she become the face of the wine. 

Speaking with The Blast, Jolé revealed that she’d sold her shares in the Black Girl Moscato venture “at a loss.” While she hoped that might be enough to heal the rift, that was apparently not the case. “I thought that would end the bitterness but no,” she admitted.

Meanwhile, in an interview with TooFab, Banks said she felt there was a chance their relationship could be salvaged, but at the same time, the whole debacle left a sour taste in her mouth. “I didn’t care for that name. To me, it wasn’t a good look, it was just offensive to me.” Even though Jolé eventually ended up in a different wine venture with a less offensive name — Mini Mama — Banks admitted that the whole experience “kind of put a wedge in [their] relationship, in [their] friendship.”

Terra Jolé sometimes finds her fame to be 'scary'

Being a reality TV star and a little person is a unique combination — something that Terra Jolé expounded on in a 2019 interview with Page Six. While she admitted she was thrilled to be a part of the public’s increasing acceptance of little people through Little Women: LA, she also revealed that there’s a downside to her fame, too.

According to Jolé, “the scary parts are when people know your family so well that they feel like they can come up to you and hug you and you don’t know these people!” Fans’ overfamiliarity with her, she explained, can sometimes lead to encounters that, for average-sized fans, may not seem awkward but for her and her family can be terrifying. “It’s very scary being a little person and having an average-sized person come up to you freely and want to hold your daughter or hold your son and you’re like, ‘Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!'” As Jolé wisely pointed out, “in what normal reality would that ever happen? But in my reality, that happens.”

Tragedy struck Christy McGinity

In September 2019,  Christy McGinity and boyfriend Gonzalo Justo Carazo made a happy announcement: they were expecting a baby. “What a big blessing. Good things come to those who wait,” McGinty wrote on Instagram, revealing their “bundle of joy” was scheduled to arrive in April 2020. In March 2020, they welcomed a baby daughter, Violet Eva. Born seven weeks ahead of schedule at just 33 weeks old, reported People, the baby measured 15 inches and weighed three pounds, 15 ounces. 

Two weeks later, the couple’s joy turned to heartbreak when their newborn daughter passed away. “It is with our deepest sorrow that we send our baby girl Violet Eva Carazo to play with the angels,” McGinity and Carazo said in a statement to People. “We were able to spend two weeks with our sweet baby girl and for that we are forever thankful.”

In a subsequent Instagram post, McGinity admitted, “it’s been so hard grieving over her,” expressing gratitude for “so many heartfelt prayers, thoughts, flowers… For that we are very thankful.”

Terra Jolé opened up about her daughter's health struggles

In addition to being the star and executive producer of Little Women: LA, Terra Jolé is also the mother of three children — one of whom has some serious health issues. In a 2019 interview with Hollywood Life, Jolé opened up about her daughter, Penny, and her struggles with hydrocephalus, “a condition in which excess fluid builds up in the brain.” Hydrocephalus can result in an array of symptoms, notes the Mayo Clinic, including nausea, seizures, and headaches.

According to Jolé, her daughter has experienced “a lot of struggles but she’s doing amazing.” At the time, Jolé insisted, “Penelope is happy and I don’t think we’re out of the woods but we’re at least in recovery.” Teasing what fans could expect to see in season 8 of Little Women: LA, she pointed to “a surgery that happens,” adding that, “it’s been quite a roller coaster of a ride.”

While Jolé said she will continue to open her life to Little Women: LA, she did confess that “experiencing Penny’s health issues with the cameras rolling is scary because you’re being vulnerable and you’re trying to be as normal as possible… it’s definitely the hardest part of reality television.”

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