• Fans of “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding” were thrilled with the spinoff show “Gypsy Sisters” which aired in 2013 for 32 episodes.
• Show was plagued by controversy, including an animal cruelty case which ultimately led to its cancellation.
• The show followed the Stanley matriarch, Nettie and her sisters, children, and associates.
• Some Romanichal and Romanichal-adjacent people claimed the Stanleys were impostors.
• Notable Romanichal descendants include Charlie Chaplin, Adam Ant, James Carver, Jake Bowers, and Freddy Eastwood.
What is “Gypsy Sisters”?
Fans of “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding” were understandably thrilled with the release of its first spin-off, “Gypsy Sisters”, which aired in February 2013 for a total of 32 episodes. “Gypsy Sisters” followed the Stanley matriarch, Nettie, and her sisters, children and associates, while allowing viewers to see the daily life of Romanichal women up close for the first time.
The show was plagued by controversy – from bad publicity to negative think pieces – with its kiss of death coming in July 2015 after an appalling case of animal cruelty that resulted in the death of an innocent animal. “Gypsy Sisters” was enjoyed by some, but vilified by others, especially Romanichal and Romanichal-adjacent people who claimed that the Stanley clan were impostors.
Meet The Cast
Nettie Stanley is a distinctively spray-tanned West Virginia native, born in July 1974, and who birthed nine children. The self-confessed mother hen took pride in her brood of offspring, and when not busy getting into physical spats during family reunions, watched over her three younger sisters and dozen grandchildren with an eagle eye. Many believed that Nettie would become a breakout star in the reality TV landscape, but when her stepson Rocky passed away after a tragic stabbing incident, she made all her social media profiles private, and stepped away from the cameras. Dovie, Mellie and JoAnn were Nettie’s younger sisters.
Nettie and her spouse, Huey Stanley, celebrated their ten-year wedding anniversary by renewing their vows in the series finale of season three. Nettie definitely had a wild and rambunctious personality, and was known as the life and soul of the party, but also had a nurturing side, and helped her mother, Lottie Mae, raise the younger Stanleys when little more than a child herself.
Lottie Mae is TV’s most colorful great-grandmother, with an unimpressively long criminal record. In the early 2000s, she was convicted of bank fraud; a few years later, she and her husband were accused of removing her son and grandson from foster care, and were unceremoniously arrested in a Madison Heights motel. Lottie spent almost a decade behind bars, but has tried hard to keep on the straight and narrow ever since.
In no particular order, Nettie’s children are Destiny, Albert, Huey, Heath, Sheila, Nukie, Dallas, Kat and Chasitie, born to three different fathers including Huey. The exact number of grandchildren Nettie has been blessed with remains unknown for now, but she is believed to have a strong positive influence on their upbringing.
Mellie Stanley, the black sheep of the family and the youngest female sibling, was nowhere near as popular as Nettie – and perhaps for good reason. In just seven years, the brown-eyed brunette birthed four children named Richard Joel, Brandy’Wyne Leveniya, Divinity Rose, and Serenity Faye. If their original names weren’t bad enough, viewers were repulsed when she confessed to getting pregnant by mistake after drinking too much.
Failed relationships that result in accidental pregnancies are a common pattern in Mellie’s life. She instituted divorce proceedings against the father of her son Richard after being married for less than a week; Richard’s three younger sisters all have different fathers, and Mellie has also been in a few more relationships, without becoming pregnant.
The brunette worked as a nightclub stripper before becoming a , and promised that the birth of Richard Joel would make her a better and more mature individual. Unfortunately, she remained stuck in her ways and could often be seen fighting, cursing, and drinking while in the show, much like her extended family members. Mellie appeared to go on a downwards spiral when “Gypsy Sisters” was cancelled, as in 2017, she and her husband at the time were arrested for coupon fraud scam.
The exact whereabouts of Mellie are an enigma. In 2019, she was sentenced to five years of probation, with one of the conditions being that she pass her General Education Development Test (G.E.D). If lucky, Mellie will be off probation in 2024, and able to turn over a new leaf: the more pressing question is if she’ll want to.
Much like Mellie, JoAnn Wells was also arrested for coupon scamming. In 2014, she had to repay Target almost $15,000, and was hit with two years of supervised probation; JoAnn had befriended a cashier at the supermarket in order to carry out her plan, but was caught after scamming the store of $14,000.
JoAnn and Mellie have more in common than that, however: both are brunettes with less-than-perfect love lives. In season three, JoAnn’s ugly divorce from her husband Belcher was one of the main storylines: they briefly reconciled, but broke up again. At the beginning of the show, the aspiring nurse was known for her gentle and quiet nature, but somehow managed to attract drama and good-for-nothing men wherever she went.
I always do what I want! 😘😘 https://t.co/Elu9K6QDOW
— Gypsy Sister Mellie (@IAmGypsyMellie) May 31, 2015
These days, JoAnn is in a relationship with an unknown man, and has stayed out of the news and away from the spotlight. She and Belcher are believed to be peacefully co-parenting their two children, and JoAnn has no known social media profiles.
The fourth Stanley sister, Dovie Carter, was given the challenging job of being the family mediator. The dark-haired West Virginia native appeared only a handful of times in the fourth season, and apparently wasn’t deemed controversial enough to be given a bigger role. Her relationship status and any possible children are unknown as of 2022.
Annie Malone and Kayla Williams were two controversial sisters linked to the Stanleys by marriage. Prior to “Gypsy Sisters”, Annie was known for marrying her first cousin James in an exuberant episode of “Big Fat Gypsy Wedding”, but the marriage was short-lived, which is perhaps for the best. James Malone also had children with Nettie’s daughter, Dallas, who was Annie’s cousin. In 2017, Annie made news for all the wrong reasons, after being charged with exploitation of an elderly person and other felonies.
Kayla Williams and her husband Richard were together for almost two decades before divorcing. Making up for lost time, Kayla married and divorced twice more in quick succession. Richard had children with Kayla and shared two sons with none other than Danielle Malone, James’s sister, making the entangled Stanley-Malone-Williams family trees even harder to follow.
These days, Kayla’s children – Sissy, Lexi, Richard, George and Danielle – are going their own ways, and starting separate families. Kayla keeps herself busy by helping out with her grandchildren here and there, and uploading lifestyle, beauty, and cooking content on her thriving YouTube channel, which boasts thousands of subscribers.
Gus – Kayla and Annie’s brother – married Laura Johnston. The couple have three daughters named Hailey, Savannah and Bailey, and are believed to still be together; much like Dovie Carter, Kayla and Annie’s sister-in-law was rarely seen in the show.
At this point, you might need to get out a pen and paper: Sheena Small, first cousin to the Stanley sisters, had four children with Nettie and Mellie’s brother Henry, named Frankie, Shakira, Shania and Shirley. Despite making a handful of appearances in season two, mainly at family events, Sheena was considered a minor character, and never given her own storylines.
As mentioned, Nettie has at least twelve grandchildren – around half of whom come from her daughter Dallas Nichole Williams, a mother of six herself. Her brood – Demi, London, Richard, Aaron, Huey and Archie – have different fathers; Nettie has been married more than once, but has also been unlucky in love. James Malone, father of two of her children, married Dallas’s cousin Annie, but even so, Dallas took him back in Christmas 2016. When they broke up yet again, James found solace with a new woman.
The last cast member is Nettie “Nuckie” Williams. Although Mellie Stanley won’t win mother of the year awards any time soon, Nettie has her beat after abandoning her partner and young son to travel the world with her heroin-addicted boyfriend. Nettie’s jilted partner, Pookie, and his wife at the time tracked her down in December 2016, and brought her back to West Virginia; two months later, Pookie and his then-wife divorced, and he gave his relationship with Nettie another chance. Since then, they’ve had two more children named Ivory and Delilah Lee.
Animal Cruelty Scandal
The true reason behind the cancellation of “Gypsy Sisters” is believed to be an animal cruelty case involving none other than Mellie Stanley and Randall Scott Vuncannon, one of her many unsavory husbands. The incident was first reported in July 2015, and led to advertisers threatening to stop sponsoring the show; at that point, the network realized that not all publicity is good publicity, and decided to pull the plug on what had been by all accounts an entertaining series.
According to TMZ, Mellie and Randall were embroiled in a heated argument concerning rent payments, when he lost his temper, picked up her small pet dog, and flung her across the kitchen as hard as possible, killing her instantly. He also beat-up Mellie, and left her lying bruised and battered in the street, which is how she was found by police officers.
Randall was arrested and charged with felony animal cruelty; since then, virtually nothing is known about him. Mellie’s parenting was criticized by the general public, who wondered how she could marry such a violent man and have him around her vulnerable young children without getting to know him properly first. Some say that the shame of the incident has prevented Mellie from returning to the screen and public life in general; others are of the opinion that it’s because no network would have her on their shows, or give her a platform.
Famous Romanichal Descendants
Throughout the centuries, Romanichal people have been vilified, persecuted and even banned from some countries. Some could argue that to date, there is practically no media showing them in a positive light, as shows such as “Gypsy Sisters” and “Big Fat Gypsy Wedding” focus on the exaggerated and theatrical aspects of Romanichal lifestyles, often reducing them to little more than eye-wateringly expensive wedding ceremonies and extravagant parties.
Very few modern-day shows and documentaries about Romanichal people or travelers have broken the mold. However, there are many notable figures descended from Romanichals, such as Charlie Chaplin and Adam Ant, who prove that stereotypes don’t represent a whole group.
Charlie Chaplin was born in England in April 1889, and became famous during the silent film era; a talented comic, filmmaker, actor and composer, he is hailed as one of the most important figures in the movie industry. With a career spanning over 75 years, he was as beloved as he is controversial, with a cult following to this day.
As a child, hardship and poverty left its mark on Charlie. With an absent father and a mother who struggled financially, Charlie was sent to the workhouse twice before his ninth birthday. At the age of 14, his mother was committed to a mental asylum, and he was left to fend for himself. He began performing, touring music halls before transitioning to comedian and stage actor.
Aged 19, Charlie was signed to the prestigious Fred Karno company, and traveled to the US for work. In 1914, he began working closely with Keystone Studios, and would develop his famous Tramp persona. Just four years later, he was one of the most known faces in the world, and had worked with the Mutual, First National, and Essanay corporations to name a few.
Adam Ant, born Stuart Leslie Goddard in November 1954, is a famous English actor, musician and singer. Between 1980 to 1983, he scored 10 UK top ten hits as the lead singer of Adam and the Ants, before smoothly switching to a solo career. As a child, he was raised in Marylebone, London, and first played bass for Bazooka Joe as an adolescent.
He performed with Adam and the Ants from 1977 to 1982; their sophomore project, “Dirk Wears White Sox”, was number one on the UK Independent Albums Chart, a pretty impressive feat for a relatively unknown group. Adam’s second album, “Kings of the Wild Frontier”, was released in 1980 and spawned hit singles, becoming the country’s number-one selling album in 1981, and topping the UK Album Chart.
Other notable Romanichal descendants include the MEP James Carver, journalist and broadcaster Jake Bowers, and Welsh footballer Freddy Eastwood.