When Rania released their track “Demonstrate” which featured a new lineup from them after a 2-year hiatus, it was a pretty big deal. DR Music played up one of the group’s new members in particular—Alexandria Reid, better known as Alex. The addition of a black female to a K-pop group caused waves to the overall K-pop fandom with many in support of her addition. However, Alex’s position in the group after the initial announcement of her joining remained precarious.
Starting with “Demonstrate” it was clear that Alex’s addition to the group hadn’t been fully thought out. She was unable to fully participate in performances due to not being in Korea in time to learn the choreography, instead coming on stage for her parts and exiting, returning to dance in the last chorus. Besides that, there were issues with her styling being different from the rest of the group’s, complaints that fans were quick to point out on YouTube and various social media platforms. When “Demonstrate” promotions ended, it was with the hope that the next comeback would feature Alex as more of a full team member.
December 2016 brought us BP Rania, more member changes, and “Start A Fire.” Again, Alex was the odd person out, with vastly different styling and missing from the choreography. No real explanations were given as to why Alex hadn’t been incorporated into the group after a year of being a member, and the only real news was that she’d designed one of her own stage outfits. Rumors started that Alex had been injured, but a practice video emerged proving that false. With the follow up stage “Make Me Ah,” fans finally got what they wanted. All the girls were on stage during the full song. Everyone matched. The song was actually pretty good. Everything in that moment was working well and the group seemed on track to finally move forward positively.
In February of this year, in the middle of “Make Me Ah” promotions, Alex returned to the US in order to pursue an acting opportunity. This was met with scorn from fans, who reacted most intensely to DR Music calling Alex an active member of BP Rania when she barely had any time to shine and was only just beginning to properly promote before they sent her away. BP Rania finished up “Make Me Ah” promotions shortly after.
With the beginning of August came the announcement of “Beep Beep Beep.” Before the album and MV, BP Rania would promote the comeback through busking performances. The videos were a step back for Alex, who showed up in the beginning and was then relegated to the corner while her group mates finished the choreography.
Again, not being in Korea to learn the steps worked against her, but her company knew that they wanted the group to make a comeback. They knew they wanted Alex to participate. Why didn’t they coordinate the schedules better to have her be able to practice with the group? She has her vocals on the track, but is back to “Demonstrate” levels of participation. On Twitter, Alex’s position in the corner became a joke that even Alex was able to laugh at, but in the weeks after, the joke became a real issue.
On August 19th, DR Music announced through their Facebook page that Alex was leaving the group. For many this didn’t come as a surprise, but there was a general cry of outrage from the fanbase. The consensus was that DR Music used Alex’s race as noise marketing for the group, and when her popularity got too much for them to handle, they dropped her. Unfortunately, we as fans will never know the full truth.
A few days after the news broke, Alex took to Twitter with a video thanking her fans for their support. Her positive outlook to the situation juxtaposed greatly to the nearly combative tweets from moments before. With many hoping Alex will tell the full side of her story, we want to wish her luck in her future endeavors.
DR Music and Alex made a deal with each other, bottom line. It was up to one or both parties to make something out of it. In the beginning, when it looked like she was being treated like a prop, it was up to Alex to speak out. Fans can only do so much when they’re not directly involved in a situation. The continued use of Alex’s name and image without putting forth the effort to really make her part of the team was a mistake on both side’s part.
No matter where you stand on the issue, neither side here did everything they could to make Alex’s journey with BP Rania all it could be. This mysterious acting job? Alex being away for long periods at a time? Having vocals on an album but not being allowed to fully participate? At some point there should have been meetings, telephone calls, an agent putting their foot down and saying “Let’s see what happens when you let them do it all together,” but we never really got that. This was a wasted opportunity for all involved, especially considering the backlash from fans that DR Music is currently receiving. They may or may not recover from this incident. Alex will most likely be okay. She’s now got an international fanbase to revamp her American career.
All in all, the brief involvement of Alex Reid in BP Rania is a lesson for future aspiring non-Asian K-pop stars and the company they choose. Make sure of your role within the group. Be around for practices and promotions. Sign with a company that will back you with your group. And above all else, don’t let yourself be used as a prop.