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The Daily Dish The Real Housewives of Potomac

How Potomac Powerhouse Candiace Dillard Bassett Hits the High Notes of Success

Go inside the RHOP cast member's career journey as she continues to break barriers, captivate audiences, and "Drive Back" any notion of limitations.

By Allison Crist

By lending her charismatic talents to song, stage, and screen — all while traversing the realms of reality television on The Real Housewives of Potomac and The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls TripCandiace Dillard Bassett is proof that true star power knows no boundaries.

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The multihyphenate's resume transcends convention even further beyond her roles as a singer, songwriter, actress, and entrepreneur, too, as she's dabbled in the intricacies of the political arena and pageant world alike. 

Put simply, Candiace is a true tour de force — so buckle up and brace yourself as she tells all about how she seamlessly wove her diverse talents into a mesmerizing tapestry of success.

The Beginnings of Candiace's Career

Howard University

When the time came to embark on her college journey, Candiace's future path illuminated before her like a beacon: She would study journalism at Howard University, just as her idol, Fredricka Whitfield, had done.

"She was like a hero on our campus," Candiace said while reminiscing on her first days at Howard. "Her photos were all over the walls. I idolized her as a journalist and just her trajectory, from where she was to where she got to and where she is now."

Rhugt S3 Candiace Dillard

An Obama-Inspired Career Transition

Candiace's passion for journalism extended well beyond the boundaries of her college curriculum, so in order to learn more and gain real-world experience in the field, she secured an internship at the Washington branch of The Chicago Tribune.

Fast-forward to November 4, 2008. "President Obama won his first term, and I was a young Black woman in the nation’s capital and it was a huge deal," Candiace recalled. "The night that he won the election, I was leaving the newsroom and walking out into the street, and everybody was literally doing cartwheels in the street on Pennsylvania Avenue ... Coming out and experiencing that and attending one of the top Historically Black colleges, and being alive at a time when our first Black president was elected, it was just an electric time."

Candiace Dillard-Bassett Gives a "Behind-the-Scenes Look" at this Epic Life Moment

So electric, in fact, that Candiace started to develop a new dream. "There was a lot of passion around wanting to serve this man; this human who was there, and who for the first time represented people that looked like me," Candiace explained. "So, that’s kind of where the public service bug bit me. I was literally inspired by Barack and Michelle Obama."

Putting that inspiration to use, Candiace applied for an internship at the White House — and she got it. "That’s a lesson in, always throw your hat in every ring, [even if you] think you’re not qualified because I never thought in a million years that I would get this White House internship," Candiace explained. "I just did it to say, 'Well, I’m here. I could do it. So I should do it.' And I got the internship."

Candiace Dillard at the RHOP Season 4 reunion.

Working to Stay in the White House

Candiace was able to continue working in the White House as a staffer after her internship ended, and before long, it was time to re-elect President Obama. "I was still so passionate about what he wanted to do for our country and about the policies that he was implementing for marginalized people and people of color and just everyday Americans, that I wanted to go to the campaign trail," she recalled. "And I went."

More specifically, Candiace went to Virginia to get out the vote. She spent her days training volunteers in phone banking, data entry, voter registration, and so on. "I also simultaneously worked on some college campuses as a campus organizer at Old Dominion University and Norfolk State University," Candiace shared. "It was, to this day, probably some of the hardest work I’ve ever done."

Candiace Goes From Politics to Pageants

Miss United States

A grueling workload was no challenge for Candiace, though, as evidenced by the fact that she took on yet another obligation while working as a field organizer. "I was also training for Miss District of Columbia USA," she revealed. "So, after work, I would leave at 9:00 and go to the gym to get my workout in so that I could keep my body the way that it was supposed to look to be able to compete in the fitness competition for Miss DC USA."

Candiace was eventually crowned first runner-up, but the win became bittersweet when she discovered that she was on the precipice of aging out of that particular pageant system. She was naturally "devastated," but not enough to give up on competing altogether — and it's a good thing she didn't, because, in 2013, she was awarded the title of Miss United States.

Candiace Dillard at an event.

Putting a Price on the Tricks of the Trade

Candiace, as she put it, has "always had an entrepreneurial spirit." 

She continued, "So even as I’m holding my title as Miss United States, I’m helping my pageant sisters around me with their competitions. But I was always being approached and asked for advice on, 'How do I win this pageant? How do I do this thing? How do I get here?' and I was just giving away information for free because I love pageantry. I’d competed in pageants since I was five. And it was my national director that suggested that I start a pageant consulting firm. So, I did."

The result? Over 500 women earned local, state, and national titles with her help. 

Candiace Dillard at a red carpet event.

Entrepreneurial Escapades, Continued

Fueled by her foresight and entrepreneurial acumen, Candiace recognized the untapped potential within another facet of her pageantry prowess: hair care. 

"Pageantry is thick in beauty, and I was always trying to help my clients find the best hair, the best makeup, the best wardrobe. And I had always had a passion for hair and hair extensions and just beauty in general," Candiace explained. "And it was my mom and my sister and I that kind of came together and said 'Well, we can make this a business.'"

Thus, Prima Hair Collection was born.

Candiace Steps Into the Spotlight

A Flourishing Music Career

Candiace knew that she wanted to be a musician her "entire life," but it wasn't until she was preparing to marry her husband, Chris Bassett, that her dream became a reality. 

"When I was getting married, I knew that I wanted to write a song and perform a song for Chris. I didn’t plan for that to be the segue, but it ended up being the segue. And then I literally just, again, followed the path, and it all just kind of fell into place," she said. "Meeting my manager fell into place. Getting signed by my label fell into place. Everything just happened the way it was supposed to happen because I believed it was gonna happen that way."

Much of Candiace's musical journey has played out on RHOP, and in 2021, she released her debut album, Deep Space. (More on that later!)

Daily Dish Rhop Candiace Dillard

A Different Side of Being on Camera

In recent years, Candiace has also started to pursue acting. She appeared in the award-winning independent 2018 film Water in a Broken Glass, acted alongside Tia Mowry in the sitcom Family Reunion, and starred in Hush, back in 2022. 

Looking to the future, Candiace said, "I really want my next project to be a season regular episodic on a major network. That would be something that I’m actively manifesting and working on and planning for."

Candiace's Career Reflections

Making It All Work

In case it wasn't already clear, Candiace is extremely busy. So, how does she manage to balance all of her roles? 

Put simply, she just does. "I mean, I feel like there isn’t an easy answer. I'm figuring it out every day," she explained. "I mean today is an example of me being dog tired, completely exhausted, because I’ve just been in LA for a week recording music — literally locked in a studio for eight hours, nine hours a day, sometimes — and then coming back home and trying to still live my regular life, celebrating Easter with my family and my friends. And then having to come to New York to shoot Watch What Happens Live. It’s a dance."

Luckily, she has "a great support system," including not just Chris, but also her parents and friends. "Without that, I feel like it just makes everything more challenging," Candiace added. 

Candiace Dillard at an event.

Unforgettable Achievements 

When it comes to Candiace's music career, she "never think[s] about the numbers" or quantifying her success. However, there's no ignoring the fact that Deep Space's "Drive Back" has surpassed 1 million streams. "As someone who just makes music because it’s what I like to do, and then having amassed a fan base, if you will, that I can now speak to and talk to, and making music for them, and for me, that’s what I love to do," she explained. "So, the cherry on top of that is over a million streams on my little song."

When looking back at her biggest "wins" to date, Candiace also highlighted her recent Deep Space tour. "For me, successfully completing my first tour — complete with the tour bus and a band and dancers and a whole entourage of people — and selling out multiple shows, that was huge," she said. "I was really, really proud of that."

Overcoming the Hard Times

Success is, of course, not without its struggles. But Candiace "welcome[s] challenges."  

She continued, "There are times like when I’ve been in the studio and I’m recording a song that I really don’t think I like my voice, or I don’t think I should sing. Like, I just don’t think that my voice sounds good on a particular song. And I feel deflated and I want to just stop and quit and say, 'Let’s just do another song. I don’t like this song.' But I'll just tell myself 'No, you have to keep going. Keep trying and see what the end result is.' It’s a lot of self-talk and pushing myself and just remembering what my purpose is and why I’ve chosen to do what I’m doing."

What's Next for Candiace

New Music and Acting Roles

Despite having already accomplished so much, Candiace's insatiable thirst for success fuels her onward. As for what she's setting her sights on next, Candiace revealed she's currently working on a third project, which she hopes will "reach more people and have a bigger impact than my first two projects."

What's more, "I want to make music that feels like it’s growing and changing with me, as I grow and change as a woman, and have that be received and understood," Candiace explained, adding that she also wants to do more collaborations — ideally with Doja Cat, Lil Nas X, or Ari Lennox.

Candiace Dillard-Bassett Shoots Her Music Video with Trina

In the meantime, she'll once again be hitting the road; this time, to tour Deep Space Deluxe

When it comes to Candiace's acting career, she teased several upcoming projects, including a recently-wrapped movie that's set to come out this summer, and a second season of Hush

A Growing Family

Candiace has been open about her and Chris' IVF journey​​​​​​ on RHOP, and now, she said they're just trying to determine "when the appropriate time to pop out a baby or two is."

“It’s definitely a priority [and] we’re getting closer,” Candiace added. “Now it’s just a matter of figuring out when the right time of year would be.”

Daily Dish Rhop Candiace Dillard Chris

And yes, she does have a very specific time of year in mind. “I’ve joked about this, but I’m also very serious about the fact that I would love to plan around not having an Aquarian or a Gemini,” Candiace said with a laugh. “So [I’m] planning my pregnancies around those Zodiacs, ’cause you know, I don’t need an Aquarius or a Gemini in my house.”

“But on a serious note, we’re just figuring out the best time,” she continued. “Because Chris and I are both in a lot of positive transition spaces right now ... It’s finding that balance to put that priority at the top of our list, becoming parents."

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