Only two episodes of The Real Housewives of Potomac have aired so far, but already the drama is getting hotter than the water inside a crab boil pot. And the woman at the center of much of it is Gizelle Bryant.
However, Gizelle has an explanation for why she seems to have ruffled the feathers of nearly all of her cast members this season. The Daily Dish recently caught up with Gizelle to talk about her early confrontations with her RHOP castmates, Potomac etiquette, and her surprising thoughts about her "THOT-ish" comment.
You've gotten into some drama with a few of your RHOP castmates already. Why do you think that is?
Gizelle Bryant: Who, me? You know, I am — and the other ladies as well — we're all extremely opinionated, and we stand by our opinion fiercely. So you know, it's a little bit of holding my own to Karen [Huger], holding my own to Charrisse [Jackson Jordan] and being highly opinionated about what I feel is right and what happened. I think that right now what we have seen thus far is just a little bit of miscommunication on everyone's part. So hopefully, we can get past it sooner rather than later.
Would you consider yourself hard to get along with or a little bit of a troublemaker?
We've all been asked together who's the troublemaker, and they all pointed to me, which was not nice and poor etiquette. But I can say that I might. I might stir the pot every now and again, yes. I have to admit, yes, every now and again. But when I say I stir the pot, I try to orchestrate situations in which there is a problem, it can be resolved. So if you want to call that stirring the pot, then I'm gonna get a big spoon, and I'm gonna get to stirring.
You tried to apologize to Charrisse and Karen when you sat down with them at that lunch, but were you surprised at how they reacted and how poorly the whole thing went?
Was I surprised? Are you kidding me? Had I known that it would have gone so horribly so fast, I would have never done it. It was like the worst of all situations. First of all, I didn't think they were going to come in upset. I thought they were going to come in, you know, not necessarily happy, but at least on an even playing field. They came in mad. So I was trying to dig myself out of a hole that I didn't even know I was in. And it was difficult, but it allowed me to understand where they were, which was the only thing that came out of the whole thing. I understood at least where they were. And I did apologize, so guess what? Never doing it again. I'm gonna do it once. Not doing it again.
So when they came in angry, did you think that there was any chance of them being open to hearing your apology?
No, no, because I know these ladies. I thought, you know, we'd have a couple sips of wine and we would be talking about the latest nail polish and makeup tips. I really felt like we were gonna get to a good place quickly after we drank some wine. They didn't even wanna order wine. They just wanted to get straight to it. And no, by no means did I think after they came in and I saw the expressions on their face à la Sour Patch Kids, I knew nothing was going to be accomplished.
You had your daughters draft some letters to Charrisse and Karen, which they read on their way to the lunch. Why did you decide to have them help you with that?
I always want, especially [since] I'm raising three girls, any moment that I feel like is a teachable moment, I want to do that. So I wanted to show them that from the fourth grade to 40 years old, when it comes to girl drama, it never changes. So I wanted to show them that you have to communicate and you have to try to move on and listen to people communicate and move to another place. So I was just encouraging them to help me. And my girls are like no-nonsense. I wonder where they get that from. They tell it like it is, so I also wanted their opinion, and they gave me great advice, as we all saw.
But of course, when Karen heard about that, she did not feel the same way.
No, she did not, but Karen is a special case, and we love her for who she is. And you have to understand that we're in a different place with regards to where we are with our children. Her daughter is gone and grown and off to college. My kids are still extremely impressionable and need great learning lessons. So Karen's coming from a different perspective.
Do you think there is a power struggle between you and Karen in your social circle?
No, no, because I said from day one, Karen's a diva. I'm gonna to give her that whether it's a title that's rosy or not. I'm gonna give her she's a diva. And Karen is a bit older than me. So I look at her a little bit more as a matriarch to the group. And I'm not trying to ruffle that feather. She can have it. However, I don't ever want to feel like I'm being disrespected, and I kind of felt like when you don't accept my apology and when you give me a silly little gift that's a bit childish, it's a wee bit disrespectful.
Are you still friends with Kal Blount, and is he still doing your hair?
Absolutely, are you kidding me? Kal has been doing my hair for 15 years. He is going absolutely nowhere. Not only does he do my hair, he's one of my very best friends. So I call him my GBF, my gay best friend, and I feel like every girl needs one of those. Kal and I have traveled the world together. He is somebody that makes me laugh, that I can tell my secrets to, and he doesn't tell anybody else. Kal's going nowhere. If you see me, understand Kal did my hair.
How did you feel when he got dragged into the drama with Charrisse and Karen?
I felt really bad. When we left, I apologized because I was just like, I can't believe that he got caught up in the middle of all this. However, he's very, very, very protective of me, so there was no way that anybody could be kind of going off on me and giving me silly gifts that Karen gave me and he wouldn't get involved. There's just no way. He loves me too much, and he's extremely protective.
What did he think about all of that after it happened?
Nonsense. Nonsense. He thought it was some utter nonsense, and he just felt like they were acting like old biddies, and he didn't understand it. We left there very confused. What are they mad at? To this day, I still don't know what Charrisse is mad at, to this day.
So in the last episode you called Ashley Darby a THOT...
Wait, no, no, no, no. I said she was "THOT-ish." There's a difference.
But that was the first time you had met her, right?
OK. So Ashley was that night, per her admission, she drank about 18 drinks too many. So she was a rambling mess. So sitting there, I'm talking to this rambling mess, and she gets up and she starts humping and grinding people. It is just a lot of THOT-ish behavior, I felt. For a first impression, I was just like, whoa, this is a lot from one person. Per Ashley's admission, she realizes that that night was not a good night, and it was not a good impression. As the season goes on, that is quickly corrected ASAP. And my view of her is quickly changed.
In the next episode, it looks like Ashley is going to confront you about saying that she showed "THOT-ish behavior." Were you surprised that she wanted to talk to you about that?
I was. I was surprised, but I appreciate it, because anyone that's gonna stand up for herself, kudos to her. And you should. So I was happy, and that allowed me to realize that she had a lot more depth than I thought. So we'll see what happens. But I like Ashley, FYI.
Your father, Curtis Graves, is an important historical figure, your ex-husband, Jamal Bryant, is a very prominent pastor and civil rights leader. Did they have any reservations about you joining RHOP?
Of course they had reservations. I mean, anybody that loves you is going to have reservations just about the whole reality world and what that means. [My ex-husband] didn't know what it meant as it relates to our children. So of course we discussed it, and he knows me and he trusts that I would never make a decision about our kids that was detrimental in any way. My dad, on the other hand, has no concept, really, of reality TV because he doesn't watch any of it. So I was telling him, I was like, "Dad I'm doing this show. It's going to be like a Housewives show." He's like so cute. So my dad was just kind of like, "I trust you. I know that you're smart, and I know that you're not gonna do anything that's going to haunt you for the rest of your life. So if you feel like it's a good fit at this point in time in your life, then go for it."
Have they seen the show?
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And you know, both of them in the first episode were seen. They know how reality shows are. Both of them film with me later, so we'll see them later. And we'll get to know them better.
What do they think of the show so far?
Um, so far, so good. It's great that the first show, awesome ratings. We broke records. That was just, like, a phenomenal thing, so they're happy for me. That just shows that regardless, at the end of the day, they support me and love me.
In just the first two episodes, we've seen that RHOP seems to be a lot more about racial identity than any of the other Real Housewives series. Is that something you expected when you joined the show? Did you think that would be a big part of it?
No, not at all. It's kind of shocking, but you know what? It's real life. It's real life. Obviously, I'm light skinned, I've got green eyes, and it's a real thing for people to think I'm not black. And the reality is I am. And then you have people that are biracial and then just kind of figuring out where do I identify myself, you know that's a big thing. I didn't think it would be a topic of conversation for us, but I'm happy that we are talking about it and that people are talking about it because especially in this country and just kind of like where we are as a country, it's important. And, unfortunately in 2016, we still do have racial issues that as a country we need to tackle.
Etiquette seems to be very important on the show and to many of the ladies on the show. Why is it so important in Potomac?
Let me tell you something, as I watched the episode, we have killed the word "etiquette." We have used that word 400 million times. All women in Potomac, particularly myself, Charrisse, Karen, Robyn [Dixon], are older women. We're at a place in our lives where we just don't want to be around people that are acting savory, I should say, so I don't want to say etiquette is so important. I want to say that common courtesy, decency, respect, class, sophistication, yes. You know, you want to [surround] yourself around those kind of people, not only for you but for your kids. You want to have your kids around some people that understand what etiquette is all about. It's the way of the world.
On the show, you don't seem as concerned with etiquette. You have a kind of "been there, done that" attitude about it.
Yes, and the reason for that is, as I said on the show, I did not grow up in the cabbage patch. I am very aware of how to act. I am very classy and sophisticated when I need to be. And when I don't need to be, I don't need to be. So, you know, you never have to tell me how to act. I govern myself accordingly wherever I am. So when you are telling me how to act, I kind of take offense because, again, I have a mother who was very clear about manners, rules, and regulations. So I don't need an etiquette talk ever. I've read Emily Post. I've read a couple of posts of Emily Post. Yeah.
A lot of people don't know about Potomac. Some fans were even confused about why The Real Housewives would be in Potomac. So what do you want people to know about it from watching the show?
I mean, we don't represent the entire town of Potomac. We are just a small group of very elegant, beautiful, intelligent, articulate women that take pride in who and what we are. Yes, we're very opinionated and that is always cause for some drama. But at the end of it, we take care of one another, we look after one another, and most importantly, we want the best for each other and each other's kids.