The 'Real Housewives of Potomac' are all about keeping it 100 percent 'real'
By: Gibson Johns
Going into their first season, the "Real Housewives of Potomac" had an added amount of pressure on them to deliver the goods: Years after Bravo cancelled the "Real Housewives of D.C." after one White House-crashing filled season, they were given the task of bringing the drama back to our Nation's capital.
And, after 10 episodes of throwing shade at each other's charity galas, the women of "Potomac" more than succeeded.
The "Real Housewives of Potomac," which premiered on Bravo in January, was an enthralling and thoroughly entertaining first season of Bravo's newest "Housewives" franchise and bodes well for their future on the network.
Between giving etiquette lessons to one another, arguing about their significant others grabbing each other's derrières and throwing fits over having to sleep in twin beds during a beach getaway, the ladies of Potomac -- Karen Huger, Gizelle Bryant, Ashley Darby, Charisse Jackson Jordan, Robyn Dixon and Katie Rost -- made for incredible television this winter.
We talked exclusively to Karen, Gizelle and Ashley on the phone about being themselves in a new environment, all of those contentious arguments about race and why they find their online haters "hilarious."
See photos of the "Real Housewives of Potomac":
Check out our full conversation with the Real Housewives of Potomac below:
First of all, as a D.C. native, I have to congratulate you on finally making a worthwhile, amazing D.C.-area edition of "Real Housewives"! How has the reception been for you guys throughout the season?
Karen Huger: It's been very positive.
Ashley Darby: Really really positive. We have some great fans!
Gizelle Bryant: Yeah, it's been phenomenal, and we are very humbled by it. We had absolutely no idea whether people were going to love us or not, because of that other D.C. show that will remain nameless. [Laughs] The love that we get is fantastic; we couldn't have asked for a better situation. Of course, there's a little bit of hate, but we don't mind the hate because we get a whole lot of love.
Ashley Darby: And if you don't get a little bit of hate, then you're doing something wrong.
Karen Huger: It's been a huge success, and I'm just very grateful for it. I've been humbled by the whole process.
I talked to Andy Cohen last week, who said that the one thing he told you ladies before the season started was to stay away from social media. Did you take that advice to heart, or was it impossible to keep away?
Karen: It was impossible for me initially, and I wish had I had followed Andy's advice -- he was so right! But, at the same time, it was very important that I reach out and see what my viewers were thinking. I've learned not to bathe in it.
Gizelle: I actually love the haters.
Karen: [Laughs] Oh, Gizelle would!
Gizelle: I think that it's absolutely hilarious that somebody has such as strong opinion about something and they only have a little bit of information. So, I love that haters. I say, "Bring on the haters! Keep on hating!"
Karen: Exactly! They start hating on just half the story. You've got to tune in. I've seen that emotional ride go up and down -- one minute they hate me, and the next they want me to write a book.
Ashley: We have to remember, it's just like having friends: Not everybody is going to like you. Just like in a friendship circle, there are some people you love and some people that you hate. It's the natural way we are as humans.
We mentioned the "Real Housewives of D.C.," which didn't totally work. Did you look to other "Housewives" franchises before the season started to get an idea of what to do (and not to do)?
Karen: I watched them for pure enjoyment, but I didn't learn anything about being Karen. I brought Karen myself.
Gizelle: And I think that's the uniqueness about us: I think that everyone is genuine, which is fantastic. A lot of us already knew each other prior to starting on the show, which helped our chemistry and connection that you can see as you're watching the show. We had that a little different than the other franchises. But, you know, we just brought ourselves!
Karen: The chemistry was obviously very genuine and authentic.
A lot of reality TV stars talk about forgetting the cameras are there while filming, especially during their most vulnerable moments. What was the first moment that you all "forgot" the cameras were around?
Ashley: I think there was a comment I made to my husband -- my affectionate comment, because I'm very affectionate with my husband -- that I probably shouldn't have said to America. [Laughs] I probably shouldn't have mentioned his genitalia on television -- not one of my strongest moments.
Karen: No, definitely not. But, you know, we got past it and we all grew from it. For me, it was probably the heated thing that I had with Ashley at the "Come to Jesus [Lunch]." I was fine until I realized that there's a very important thing to realize [while filming]: Button the seam. Don't elaborate on your point. You've got to go in, and get out. Otherwise, it really loses a little bit of your primary point which, for me, was my thoughts as a mother. I've learned that I can say what I need to say, but to also be concise ... and I can decapitate you in five words.
Gizelle: I would also say the "Come to Jesus Lunch" was a big moment where we all kind of forgot the cameras were there. We just went for it, but guess what? It was really real. Of course, [on the show] you're going to say stuff that you could've said a little differently, but real life is like that.
Race was obviously a central issue this season: It was initially really brought up at Katie's naming ceremony and was still being talked about during the first part of the reunion. Karen, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it first, as you kind of stayed out of that discussion this season.
Karen: Well, it was intentional that I wanted to fly above that conversation a little bit, simply because I have a love for all people. But, I understand in 2016 living in the United States, this was certainly an issue that needed to be addressed. If it doesn't get cut, you'll hear my perspective [on the second part of our reunion] that learning to respect each other -- Gizelle's background for Gizelle's background, Katie's for Katie's, mine for mine -- what makes America great is all of that. I didn't get it, because there's enough hate in this world and I didn't want to contribute to it. But these women were brave to take on this conversation, and I commend them for it. I did not knock it, I just didn't want to contribute.
Gizelle and Ashley, looking back did you regret any of the comments you made, or do you still sort of own up to everything that was said?
Gizelle: I very much owned up to everything that was discussed. Like Karen said, it kind of originated from our backgrounds and how we were raised and who raised us. It's about what was instilled in us from the beginning. My father had done a lot of work with the Civil Rights Movement, so for me it was like, Be proud of every aspect of what black people have accomplished. Period. So that's always been the perspective that I come from, and I wanted to teach that to my children. I'm happy that the conversation happened -- I didn't know it was going to be as intense as it was -- but, from it, we all realized that we just have to respect one another.
Ashley: I also think, too, that there is a way to have a conversation, a way to address concerns -- it's all about how you say things. Your message can be very innocent and innocuous, but if you say it in a way that rubs someone the wrong way, it's going to cause problems. I totally understand if it's innocent and comes from a good place, but if not, then it's going to be very apparent.
What's something someone said about you that you found out about for the first time while watching the season?
Ashley: Well, how much time do you have?!
Karen: [Laughs] You're not going us enough time! But, really, when I saw Katie degrade my cocktail party, that was very shocking to me simply because, um, No! I really loved your non-event, Katie! Absolutely loved it! That was shocking, and I felt very offended by it. But Katie and I discussed it, we moved through it and we're moving on.
Ashley: For me, it was all of the age comments: Being called a toddler, being called a teeny bopper. I was like, These women need to quit it!
Gizelle: Well, you are the baby of the bunch!
Ashley: Yeah, but you don't always have to remind me of that!
Karen: I'll work on that. I will.
Ashley: It's fine, I know it's a term of endearment.
Tell me about filming the reunion! How long did it take? Was it as stressful as it looks?
Ashley: It took 12 hours!
Karen: It was intense -- I wouldn't call it stress, because I was exercising my comebacks. It was like, Don't come for Karen and make sure you come well-prepared. Otherwise there will be a comeback or a slap back directly from me.
Ashley: You were ready for battle, honey!
Karen: I was really for battle, simply because sometimes I've never been one to back away from disrespect. I handled it accordingly.
Gizelle: It's a very, very, very long day. It's intense. You see the whole season play back, and you have to comment and at any given moment you want to throw your hands up and walk off, It clearly gives us the opportunity to say some things that weren't shown and talk about some things that people didn't get to see -- giving some behind-the-scenes bits, which I know viewers love.
Ashley: It's funny you say that because, as I was watching, it was almost as if I was experiencing it again as I was watching it again, but I was with the people who I was having these issues with, so everything got rehashed.
Karen: You really do relive that anger and that frustration; the only drawback for me is that it all happens a year later.
Ashley: That's how you know it was hot!
Karen: If I were to make a suggestion, I would have liked them to let us tape it when we were in the heat of the fight.
Gizelle: We'll talk to Andy Cohen about that!
Karen: But if you've missed any of our episodes, please do join us for the Xfinity Watchathon Week, which starts on April 18 and goes through the 24. You can watch all of our episodes and also a bunch of other great shows.
Gizelle: It's great, you can fall in love with us over and over again!
That sounds like a good deal! Before we leave, what can we look forward to next season? Are your approaches going to change the second time around?
Karen: I don't think my approach could change -- or that it needs to change. Why change a successful formula?
Gizelle: My approach is still going to be me, me, me.
Karen: I just want to keep being genuine and sharing my ups and downs with you all. I want you to watch me evolve.
Ashley: It's real! We we weren't acting, so we can't really change who we are right here.
Gizelle: With life, we grow and mature, and we're just happy that you are all on this journey with us.
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