Melissa McLaney, owner of Malibu Boats dealer H2O Sports in Dothan, AL, breaks into reality TV with Bama Belles, a new series on TLC.
(Dothan, AL) – Malibu Boats Dealer H20 Sports and owner Melissa McLaney, are on the brink of being famous thanks to a new reality show called Bama Belles on TLC. Over 1 million viewers met the Bama Belles Amie, Val, Dakota, Jana and Melissa December 5th in the first episode. The show focuses on the lives of these 5 women, their families, careers and relationships in the South. Tune in this Sunday the 12th of December at 7pm PST/ 10pm EST on TLC to watch this refreshing reality show that shines a light on the strong, intelligent, fun women of the South on and off the water.
Bama Belles focuses on the lives of 4 very different Southern women and one transplant. Melissa's life is filled with her husband Frankie and their son Grayton along with Malibu and Axis wakeboard boats. Since the boat dealership is such a large part of Melissa's life, boating and water sports are well represented in the show.
Melissa is excited about the publicity Bama Belles can bring to her business, but her motivation for exposure is not just about that. She explained, "There are so many kids that could benefit from participating in water sports. It provides them a positive outlet to express themselves. It is also such a great family activity.”
Melissa is always looking for ways to get more people on a wakeboard boat. “We worked with INT this year to create a Southern Alabama competition and it was a huge success,” Melissa told us.
After purchasing their first Malibu boat from longtime Malibu Boats Dealer Skier’s Marine in Birmingham, Al, Melissa and Frankie were hooked. They become extremely involved in wakeboarding helping out at the local boat shows and events as well as becoming close with people in the industry. “Wakeboarding is what we love,” Melissa told us.
With a Masters of Science in Environmental Analysis and Management, Melissa was tired of the travel and long hours her career in the medical device field required. Melissa wanted to take a passion that she and her family shared and turn it into a business that allowed them to spend more time together. This is how H2O Sports was born.
Totally new to the boating industry, Melissa jumped right in, handling almost everything during the dealership’s first year herself. She courted manufacturers, secured financing and ran the business on her own until Frankie was able to take a more active role in 2009.
Melissa’s fellow Belle, Amie Pollard came up with the Bama Belle concept and pitched it to the production company. Melissa explained, “This is not a show about stereotypes. It’s a show about how we live. I hunt. I wakeboard. I have a Masters in Science. I own a business. We're not ignorant. We have fun!”
BBC World Wide, the producers of shows like The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Dancing With the Stars as well as Bama Belles wanted women who were independent for the show. That is one of the reasons Melissa was chosen. They really liked the idea of including a female boat dealership owner competing in a male-dominated industry.
The Belles endured three weeks of shooting to create the first three one-hour episodes of the show. “We worked 6 days a week sometimes for 12 to 14 hours a day,” Melissa said. “And no part of the show is scripted. What was said was what was happening at that moment."
When asked about the intrusion of the cameras on all aspects of her life, Melissa said, “At first I really tried to watch what I said and did in front of the cameras, but after a while I was comfortable with the crew and it all came out.” She continued, “They said it was essential that we pretend the cameras weren’t there, so that’s what we did.”
The 20-person film crew became such a part of Melissa’s life she taught a bunch of them to wakeboard on one of their few days off. Melissa told us. “They loved it!”
When we ask Melissa what she thought of the first episode that aired last week she said, “I enjoyed it. I thought it was hilarious!”
Tune in this Sunday the 12th of December at 7pm PST/ 10pm EST on TLC to watch Bama Belles.
About Malibu Boats Build the best boat possible, give boat owners the best value and enjoy the workplace. Since Malibu Boats' inception in 1982 the mission has been this simple. On the journey from building 100 custom ski boats a year in a small shop, to their standing as the world's number one selling wakeboard and water ski boats, Malibu has become an exemplary American boat company.