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Meet Tanya and Leila, the Lesbian Couple Featured Tonight on CBS' The Briefcase

Meet Tanya and Leila, the Lesbian Couple Featured Tonight on CBS' The Briefcase

Meet Tanya and Leila, the Lesbian Couple Featured Tonight on CBS' The Briefcase

Before you watch tonight's episode of The Briefcase, get to know the amazing family making a big choice.


Last week, we posted this piece discussing why CBS' The Briefcase - in which a family with financial struggles is given a briefcase with $101,000 and must decide how much to give another family in need might be a truly positive development for reality TV despite some questionable buzz. Today, we were lucky enough to chat with Tanya and Leila Bailey-Stewart, the interracial lesbian couple featured on tonight's episode, about why you should definitely tune in to see for yourself what this surprisingly positive and uplifting show has to offer. Tanya and Leila have taken in Leila's two young nephews, Milton (14) and Jaden (9), and are striving to provide them with the best education possible. They're also trying to have their own child via IVF, which is a rather pricey process in itself. Now, the two must decide how much of their $101,000 briefcase they'll hold onto, and how much they'll give to a family in need. What they don't know is that the family of conservative, gun-toting Republicans that they've been paired with also has a briefcase of their own and is making the same decisions that the Bailey-Stewart family is facing. You can check out the intense outcome tonight on CBS at 8/7c.

Now that you've experience the journey of The Briefcase, what would you say to people who are skeptical of the show's premise?

Leila: I think, over time, really what the show is about is reflecting on your own values and looking at each step within that journey as an opportunity to reaffirm them as a family. And that's the experience we had. Yeah, there were cameras and producers there, but at the end of the day every moment that we had was mostly focused, talking to each other, talking to our nephews Milton and Jaden, and going through that un-aided, without a lot of support. We had to be a team for each other, to support each other through that experience.

Now, in your episode you're paired with a family of 'Gun-toting, god-fearing Republicans.' How did that reveal affect you, if it did at all?

Tanya: I think people expect that that would get a reaction out of us, but for Leila and I that wasn't a factor, because that doesn't define the family that we were reviewing. Those are just adjectives to talk about, things that they like. But what was important to us is understanding the inside of the family. Understanding who the people were, understanding their values, did they align with our values? We were looking for the things that we could find about them that matched our value sets, and think that's how Leila and I are. We try to remove the things that seem like glaring differences and we really try to figure out where is the commonality. 

Leila: If you look at our family from the outside, you know nothing about us and you just kind of size us up at a glance, there are a lot of things there that people may not have experience with in their common day-to-day life. They may not have experiences with a same-sex interracial couple raising two boys that are not their biological children. But because of that, we have no place in this world to judge just on sight. So we work hard every single day to embody that in ourselves and to teach the boys that in order to know people, you really have to look beyond exterior. When we say exterior, it's not race and ethnicity or just gender. It's really any sort of categorization that a general population would make about someone. We try to operate without those in our house and our lives so that we can make decisions every day that help us grow as people and ultimately connect to human beings. 

Were you ever surprised by the journey and reactions you two between with each other as the choices were being made?

Tanya: For me, every turn of the process was a pleasant surprise and was a reminder of how deep my love is for Leila, why we're in this together, and really centered me on the family that we're building and how we are everything that we thought we are. 

What were you hoping to get out of your experience with The Briefcase?

Leila: I think for us...we were hoping to expose our family values and show that if you take away what you might assume about our family, at our core we're much like other families in America. And really banking on the idea that there were more other families out there that take different shapes and forms, and at the end of the day, have a spirit that much like ours, have values that are much like ours. So we were hoping to go through this process and share that. We didn't know we would encounter other families because of the way that the show was produced, but we were hoping to share that and in some way, shape, or form after the show aired to receive that back. So that's what we were looking for and we're completely excited about that being a reality. We're still hopeful that putting ourselves out there, we'll experience that spirit. And in viewing previous episodes that have aired, we do see that in families if you look deep within at the end of the day, you can find this magic and trust in humanity. I think that's what we were hoping for, and seeing the way the show is coming out, it's reaffirming that. 



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Preston Max Allen