'Braxton Family Values' Are Real On and Off Camera
'Braxton Family Values' Are Real On and Off Camera

If you think all the bickering the Braxtons do on their new series is for the benefit of the cameras, think again - it's definitely the real part of this reality show.

The sisters proved as much after the cameras stopped rolling on the first season and they promoted the new WEtv show, "Braxton Family Values," with a visit to The Associated Press.

As the five sisters - Toni, Traci, Towanda, Trina and Tamar - sat tightly together in a TV studio, getting touch-ups on their hair and make-up, there was obvious tension. Once the interview began, one-word or short answers were given. Shortly afterward, their publicist knocked on the door.

"I just want to talk to them. Can we stop for a minute?" she asked.

As the women went into another room, arguing was heard. But when they returned minutes later, they were all cheery - ready to promote their new show.

When Toni re-answered why she decided to do the show, she said it was part of her "becoming 2011." She then checked in on her sisters for approval.

"How am I doing ladies?" she asked. In unison they replied: "You're doing good."

Toni, 43, is the family's shining star. Her first two albums sold eight million records each, while most of her others were multiplatinum or gold successes. She's won six Grammys, among other accolades, and more recently appeared on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars."

The other sisters have tried to find success in music, but that's been a challenge. Tamar released her debut CD in 2000, and it peaked at No. 127 on the Billboard charts. She's married to Vincent Herbert, the record executive who discovered Lady Gaga; Herbert also manages Toni's career.

Tamar, Towanda and Trina released an album as The Braxtons in 1996. Traci wasn't able to perform with the group since she became a mother at a young age and was devoted to her family. Now, Tamar and Trina sing back-up for Toni, Towanda works as Toni's assistant and Traci yearns a return to the stage.

The sisters said they don't have a problem being eclipsed by their more famous sister.

"It's always a comparison and it's always going to be a comparison forever and ever and ever," middle sister Towanda said.

"You just have to be your own individual," added Tamar, the youngest of the clan at 34.

Last year Toni filed bankruptcy for a second time and in 2009 she separated from her husband. She was forced to cancel a series of Las Vegas shows in 2008 after experiencing chest pains that were later diagnosed as microvascular angina, a heart disorder.

The mother of two boys - her youngest is autistic - opened her doors to the world in 2003 for the VH1 reality special, "VH1 (Inside) Out: Toni Braxton - Family Comes First." Still, she says she was hesitant to let cameras back in her life on a larger scale.

"I reneged a few times after I said, `Yes, we can do the show,'" she said. "But over time my sisters said, `...You have to become current. ... (Fans) want to feel like they're sitting in your living room and it's important that you convey that to your fans.'"

"Braxton Family Values" airs Tuesdays at 9/8c.

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