Amid the formula for reality television for casts of color, it’s not uncommon to see infighting, wine throwing, and drunken confessionals. Fortunately, that’s not at all the case with Pastor Richard Hartley and his family on his show “The Rev” that currently airs Thursdays at 10:30 ET/PT on the USA Network.
Hartley isn’t exactly the archetype for what one may view a pastor to be. However, if there’s one thing he’s adamant about: he may be a man of God yet, he’s still a man.
Hartley has had a prolific career as a singer and musical director, traveling across the world to work with choirs and musical icons such as Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, and Diana Ross.
But it’s the depiction of his life as a minister and his kids who have followed in his footsteps that’s exciting to watch.
“I want our audience to see that we’re just a normal, American family — a successful family where spirituality and Christianity aren’t just a gimmick but our foundation,” Hartley said. “I hope to help people shed some of their fears and prejudice about Black people and the Black family.”
“We’re like so many others — a Black family led by a Black man who has a positive relationship with his wife and children. We believe in having good-hearted fun. You could call us a cross between ‘227’ and ‘Good Times’ and I’m a lot like George Jefferson,” he said.
For 14 years, Hartley served as head pastor and co-founder of Haven International Ministries in the Rockaway Beach neighborhood of Queens, New York. The husband and father of two managed to gain interest from USA — and three other networks — to pick up his show. After doing the research Hartley and his team chose to go with USA.
Now back in Long Island, New York, alongside his wife Stacey and an even larger platform, Hartley said he is enthusiastic about how his family-based show should “inspire and reward in the moment.”
While much of ethnic reality TV has sensationalized broken marriages, cheating spouses, and absentee parents, “The Rev” offers viewers a wholesome alternative and a shining example of why representation matters.
“I’m a product of a single-parent household, but I got older and when I married, I learned how to be a husband and a father,” he says. “My wife and I have been together for years and when you choose to work with your partner every day, it makes a difference as to how your children will see you and take note of. And our community does need to see more so that they know it exists and is achievable.”
Hartley’s larger-than-life persona sees him pushing his offspring to pursue their dreams outside of the walls of the church and Hartley assured, “You won’t be seeing any wine throwing anytime.”
Hartley also opened up about possible comparisons to other pastors with mainstream platforms or megachurches.
“Our church is more of a small community church; it’s not a megachurch at all. We house may be up to 100 members, hard-working people,” he clarified. “Those gentlemen are led to what they are supposed to do for them and so am I.”