'Real Housewives of Potomac' star Gizelle Bryant spills on 'fantastic' third season
"Real Housewives of Potomac" standout Gizelle Bryant is about to have a "fantastic" third season.
The Bravo hit, which returned for season 3 on Sunday, has never lacked the drama, but the stakes have been raised this season: Between the Hugers' very real financial woes, Charrisse's divorce and Ashley's relationship troubles, there's more than enough hardship this year.
Meanwhile, Gizelle has found happiness with boyfriend Sherman, successfully launched EveryHueBeauty and continues to raise her three daughters as a single mother.
It's not all champagne and roses for Gizelle, though: She certainly butts heads with returning Housewife Monique, she hasn't yet warmed up to new addition Candiace and she appears to be Karen's No. 1 doubter when it comes to her side of that Washington Post story.
Check out our AOL Entertainment's full conversation with Gizelle Bryant below, where we discuss her current relationship status, Karen Huger's financial woes, being an inspiration for viewers and the business advice that she got from "Real Housewives of Atlanta" star NeNe Leakes.
First of all, how are you feeling at the beginning of this third season?
I feel great, because season 3 -- for me -- was fantastic. I owned it, my relationships are authentic -- whether they’re good or they’re bad -- and I think I have some pretty solid friendships coming out of it. Everyone knows that Robyn and I are very close, but Ashley and I are also very good friends now.
This season picks up only a month after last season's reunion, where you introduced the world to your boyfriend, Sherman. Are you guys still going strong?
We’re hanging in there.
So, where does it stand at the beginning of the season and where does it end up?
Relationships are tough. Sherman and I -- especially in the beginning of the season -- were in a super great place. But, it’s hard, and I’m extremely busy. It’s difficult sometimes for a relationship when you’re older and you’re set in your ways and you’re in your 40s. The communication really has to be there, but sometimes we have an issue with that.
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And you're balancing a lot: Your children, your relationship, EveryHueBeauty, filming "Real Housewives"...
Writing a book!
Did it get to a point where all of a sudden you were like, "Wait, I have so much going on."
Yes! Before season one, I was doing a lot and I felt like I was busy, but now I’m legitimately slammed. The girls are getting older, so they need a lot more of my time. Then I have EveryHueBeauty, which is now up and running. You’ll see a lot of me launching the whole line, going to different cities, interfacing with a lot of other Housewives -- so I was doing a lot. Then I decided to write a book, which is just too much. [Laughs] But it's all good stuff. Everybody has always wanted to know about my life when I was married, and it was kind of like the life of a first lady. I’ve never really wanted to talk about it, but now I want to talk about it in on my terms. It’s my terms, and it’s my way.
This season started out with a montage recapping the financial struggles of Karen and her husband, Ray -- a story that broke between filming. How did you initially find out about his tax situation and what was your reaction?
You see in episode one that she had talked to Robyn for a very long time, but Karen actually called me first and I was on vacation with my kids, so I wasn’t trying to answer the phone when I saw “Karen Huger.” She talked to Robyn and then Robyn called me. I saw all the articles, and I was scared for her, to be honest with you. It’s one thing to play reality, and it’s one thing for your reality to really be reality. Karen and I have known each other for a very long time, and my heart went out to her. I went through a very public divorce, so I get not really wanting to share with the world your bad times. Karen hasn’t been honest with us, though, so it’s kind of difficult for me to be there for her when I don’t know what I’m being there for.
It seems like you and the rest of the women are struggling between supporting her and not feeling like you can totally believe her side of the story.
To this day, it’s very hard. At the end of it, I love her and I want what’s best for her and Ray, but instead of her saying, "Hey guys, this is what’s up" and we can rally behind her, she doesn’t do that. Throughout the season there was great sadness about her and that made me sad for her.
Are we going to get a closer look at you building up EveryHueBeauty?
Absolutely. You’ll see me doing different pop-up shops, trying to expand the line, in talks with mass market which is getting ready to happen and just me giving advice to the other ladies who proclaim that they want to start their own little businesses, but we haven’t seen the light of day for them. So, I give them some advice. This is how it’s done. I don’t know what y’all are doing. [Laughs]
You've emerged from this show as someone that viewers can really aspire to be. Do people convey that message to you when you meet them?
They do, and it’s why I wanted to share my story. It’s not like a fairytale. I thought I had a fairytale, but there is life after that, which so many women can identify with. And I think they feel a sense of strength as it relates to my story. I’m also a single mom, so I’ve got to show my girls that if you dream a dream and you work hard, then you can fulfill those dreams. For me, that’s what it’s all about.
There's a new Housewife this season: Candiace. Last season, you didn't mesh very well with the newest Housewife, Monique. Do you get along with Candiace?
I’ve been asked that and … I don’t know Candiace. I really don’t. I didn’t spend a lot of time with her, and when I did I was very confused. She’s always like, "I’m broke, but my mother has money." It was very weird from her. I think she had a hard time transitioning from being a fan of the show and watching the show to actually being on the show. She thought she was supposed to have an issue with me because she was the new girl. But I was like, "Calm down," because I like her.
What about you and Monique? Can we expect any spark of friendship between you two this season?
You can expect Monique to show her behind before the end of the season as it relates to Gizelle. Monique fights with me every day in her mind, and I have nothing to do it. It’s her own fight that she had in her mind every day with Gizelle. She has issues with Charrisse that I don’t like, and I’m team Charrisse.
Speaking of Charrisse, she's not officially a Housewife this season.
She’s with us all season, though.
She’s going through a divorce right now, and that was a lot for her. It was great that she could take a back seat, but she’s totally with us all the way through.
Since last season, you've been featured alongside some of the most popular Real Housewives from other franchises in "Watch What Happens Live!" specials and special promotional projects. Do you feel like you've been accepted into the broader group?
I do. They love me, and I love them. I remember Andy [Cohen] had his Christmas show, and he asked me to come and be part of it with Erika and Sonja and Kim Zolciak and it was like, "Andy, you do love me! I love you, too, Andy!" It was really nice. I did the "Black Panther" commercial with Melissa, which was super fun, and it’s nice for Bravo to give a nod to you beyond the show.
And being loved from a reality show, you're loved for being you. That must be a good feeling.
You know what? Nobody has ever put it to me that way, but it is! It’s like, here is this great platform where I can just be me, and people actually like me.
Representation and diversity is improving, but it's not where it needs to be. How does it feel being an aspirational black women on a show with such a large following? Do you feel like there are people looking up to you?
Yes, to be honest with you, and no shade to “[Real Housewives of] Atlanta,” but they have singlehandedly held down the black world as far as "Real Housewives" was concerned for so long. Then we came along and you can be edited in so many different ways, so I really wanted production to stay true to who we really are. We’re educated, we’re businesswomen, we’re sophisticated and we’re classy. We don’t really see that when it comes to black women on TV. There’s a lot of the other side. I think they’ve stayed true to who we are, and I’m happy about that. I’m an AKA sorority sister, and I get so much love from them. They’re so happy that I went to college, pledged a sorority, tried to be in the work force prior to the show. That’s really been a blessing.
Have you gotten any business advice from other Real Housewives with their own businesses?
Actually, I did an EveryHue launch party in Atlanta, and I went to dinner after with NeNe and Cynthia. And NeNe was like, “Look here: It’s so awesome that it’s only been two seasons and you’re launching a business. Girls that come on this platform and do nothing are 100 percent stupid.” Those are NeNe’s words and not mine, but I totally agree. You really have to use this to your advantage, otherwise what’s the point? If I walk away tomorrow, I want to be able to say that I have something else. I’m not going to walk away [Laughs], but it is important. When NeNe said that, I was like, “You’re preaching to the choir!” She did name some names of some women who aren’t doing anything, but I will not repeat them, and I am not one of them. I’m not going to talk about it -- I’m just going to do it.
This conversation has been edited and condensed.
"Real Housewives of Potomac" airs on Bravo, Sundays at 10 pm EST
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