Gizelle Bryant has some secrets.
Sure, you would think that after the self-proclaimed "word on the street" has let us in to every part of her life for four seasons of The Real Housewives of Potomac, including the highest of highs (launching EveryHue Beauty) to the lowest of lows (being broken up with two hours before a wedding), there wouldn't be that much we didn't know about Gizelle. But, boy, were we wrong.
When The Daily Dish sat down with her in New York City earlier this season, we wanted to go deep inside the life and mind of Gizelle, beyond what we see on RHOP every week — or, as she put it during the interview, getting "all up in my business." Along the way, we learned more about Gizelle's life before the show, from what it was like growing up with a father who worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to the famous chef she worked for to her prom date who went on to play in the NBA.
We didn't think it was possible, but Gizelle is even more fierce and fascinating than we knew.
The Daily Dish: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Gizelle Bryant: When I was a kid, I wanted to be a nurse. I wanted to help people. And then I wanted to be an event planner, you know, plan big, huge, fabulous events. I did that. And then I just wanted to be me. And that’s what I am!
What was the first concert that you went to?
I went to Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam. Do you remember her? It was fantastic. And I went to see Run-DMC. Yeah, so headlining was Run-DMC. The warm-up was LL Cool J and a very unknown rapper at the time called Jay-Z.
Wow, that’s a good first concert.
Yes, it was great. And I remember he came out, and he had Foxy Brown and a bunch of other people that didn’t do as well as him. He turned out to be the best of these.
Who was your first celebrity crush?
Oh, easy. Tom Selleck when he was Magnum P.I. I loved him! Remember when he used to wear those little shorts, the red ones? Phew, his legs were looking so good, and I was like, “That man is fine.”
You like the mustache?
Yes! I could get lost all up in that mustache. Now? Not so much. Now, he’s just older and distinguished, which is great, but back then he was a hottie.
What was it like the first time you saw yourself on TV or the first time you saw yourself on The Real Housewives of Potomac?
It was a little surreal, a little weird. I was like, I either need to comb my hair a different way or wear different makeup. I don’t know, you critique yourself in how you look, but I was happy with the fact that I have stayed true to who I am.
Is there anything new that you learned about yourself from watching yourself on TV?
OK, let’s be clear. Every time I watch an episode I’m like, “I said that? Did I really do that?” I’m very shocked at everything I say and do because I don’t remember. But I’m happy. It’s funny. Or it’s right on point. I mean, I’m happy with it. But I don’t feel like anything I’ve done is horribly cringeworthy unless I use the F-word, because I know I’m getting a call from my mother.
She doesn’t like cursing, hearing you curse?
No. She’s like, “You have children, Gizelle, you have to think about your children.” Yeah, that’s the call I get Monday morning.
Where were you the first time you got recognized out in public?
This is probably not the first time, but this is the time where I was like, “Are you freaking kidding me?” I had a hat on, sunglasses, I was coming from the gym, I had on zero makeup, I looked crazy, and I was at the post office. And some guy walked up to me and he was like, “Oh my god! Can I take a picture for my wife?” And I was like, dude, I was freaked out. I was like, "Who, me? No!" I always try to be very nice to anyone who stops me and takes pictures, but I did tell him no because I just looked crazy. And I was like, wow, I really have to be aware of the fact that people are excited. I’m happy that they’re excited, and I don’t ever want to be that person that says, “Oh no, I’m too good.” I don’t want people to think that. This was, I don’t know when, but this was Season 1. [RHOP] was very new. So now I look fabulous when I go to the post office, yes I do.
Were you ever mistaken for another celebrity?
Yes, Vanessa Williams before the Housewives. Now that the show has come on nobody mistakes me for her, I don’t know why. To the point where people would ask me for my autograph, thinking I was her. And I would do it! Sorry, Vanessa! But I would sign "Vanessa Williams."
Has there been a moment on RHOP so far that you just wish cameras were not around for?
Yes, and it’s probably episode two [of Season 4]. The whole Sherman standing me up for Candiace [Dillard Bassett]’s wedding, like, I really wish cameras weren’t around for it. I really wish that, you know, because it’s kind of like a humiliating thing. Like, here you are, you tell me you’re taking me to this wedding, we’re gonna go, we’re a couple, everything’s great, and then two hours before the wedding you pull the plug. So, yeah, that wasn’t good. Who wants to go through that publicly?
What’s your biggest fear?
Back problems. So, I have this fear that something’s gonna happen to my spine — OK, I have several fears, but that’s one of them. I used to say that something might happen to my kids [14-year-old Grace and 13-year-old twins Angel and Adore], but, you know, I trust God and I believe that they’re going to be fine. That’s it. Yeah.
Where does the fear about your back and spine come from, do you think?
I don’t know! I don’t like people touching my back. I don’t know, I have no idea. I have a fear that I’m gonna fall down a flight of steps and my back is gonna be broken or something. Yeah, weird.
What was your biggest splurge?
Oh, y’all ask me this all the time. I keep trying to tell y’all I am cheap! I am the richest cheap woman you’ll ever meet. Let’s see, the biggest splurge I guess would be a car. That’s not really a splurge, you need a car. Yeah, I don’t have any splurges. I let men splurge on me.
That’s how it’s done. That’s what you should do.
Right? That’s how it’s done. Yes. I don’t buy it, but he will. And if he doesn’t, there’s a problem. Next! Yes, but all of my big purchases, I’ve never bought them.
What’s the biggest thing someone’s bought you then?
A Bentley, a Birkin, jewelry of course, houses, you know.
Those things. Yeah, but it’s always nicer when it comes from somebody else. Yes. But recently, just with my little successes, I’ll say, you do want to buy yourself something just to say, “I’m proud of myself, I’ve worked hard, I’m gonna buy myself X." But there’s nothing that I necessarily really want and have been dreaming about having that I’ve done that. But I get that though.
If you could only have three items with you on a deserted island, what would they be?
Good question, so I would definitely have water, lip gloss — those lips have to be poppin', I don’t care if no one is there — and I think I need my iPad. Yeah, and WiFi.
That’s four items!
That’s all wrapped up into one! Right? On that one iPad I have the WiFi and the Netflix. I’m good!
But where would you charge it?
That’s a good question. It’s a universal, non-dying battery. Yes.
Who's the one person you wouldn’t mind being stuck on a deserted island with?
Can I have three? My kids? Yeah, if my kids are there, then I’m good. I need no one else.
What advice would you give yourself when you were your daughters' ages?
When I was their age, I was very, very shy, believe it or not. With me being really shy, I didn’t want to give my opinion about things. If I did have an opinion I would just tell my mom or my sister. So I would tell myself back then that it’s OK to share your thoughts and your feelings, and you don’t have to fear how people are going to view your thoughts and your feelings. Just share it with the world, and to hell with everyone else.
What was it like growing up with a dad who was an important figure in politics?
See, he started telling me too early in my life, so I didn’t know any different, so I didn’t even pay it any attention. So as I got older, I was like, “Wait a minute! Dad, you were important?” He’s like, “Gizelle, where have you been for the past 35 years?” and I’m like, “I don’t know!” So there was never, like, “Oh, our life is different from the person next door.” Or I needed to be so super proud of my dad because he was different from this dad. I was clueless, and I was a dumb teenager and I just ignored my father. The end. Which, I have apologized.
When was the moment when you realized, "Oh, my dad is a big deal"?
Probably last year. Kidding. I think around post-college. How terrible is that? Like, after college when I started getting out into the world and getting a job and doing my thing, I realized that, oh, wow, my dad was a big deal and he did a lot that I should be proud of. He worked hard, he really wanted to make a difference. For him to have done a lot of work with Martin Luther King is like, something that most people cannot say and I’m super proud of my dad... [You saw] when we went to New Orleans we sat with the mayor of New Orleans and talked a lot about his history, where New Orleans is now. And I got to understand my father better when we went to New Orleans because he’s funny and he’s charismatic and he’s borderline annoying, and he’s me, right? I was like, “Daddy, you are – am I you, or you me? You’re more annoying than I am!” And he’s like, “Whatever, Gizelle.” But he’s got so many funny stories, and I truly appreciated spending that kind of time with him.
What did you major in in college?
I was a marketing major, and is this kind of like sales and marketing-ish? Yes, because EveryHue and my book and all that. Yes! I have put my education to work! Yes.
Did you feel like that major suited you?
Yeah, I felt like it fit me, and I was interested in it. When I was in high school I was great with math and numbers, but I knew I didn’t want to be a mathematician, so I had to switch gears.
Do you have any nicknames?
When I went to college I guess nobody wanted to say "Gizelle," so everybody would just call me G, especially New Yorkers. I guess they were like, "We’ll shorten your name and not even ask permission." And I was fine with that. Ashley [Darby] calls me "Gizzy." She’s like, "OK, Gizzy."
Tell me about the nickname Sweet Gizelle.
So, I love to bake. I mean, I freaking love it. I love cookies, I love cakes, I love brownies. Cupcakes, icing, I love all that stuff. So, there was a friend of mine named Timothy Dean who actually was on Top Chef. So he had a restaurant in Baltimore and it’s actually a funny story, he invited me to come to eat. I ate, and when it came time for dessert, he served me some cupcakes. I ate them, and I’m like, "Dude this is from a box." Like, I could tell that it was a cupcake from a box, and he was like, "No it’s not. How did you know?" How did I know? Because this is what I do. So, when he opened up a restaurant closer to where I lived, he called me. He just asked me, he was like, "You know you bake, blah, blah, blah. Why don’t you bake for the restaurant?" So I was like, "OK." So, I did, and I hired a couple girls to help me because it’s very labor intensive, and it was great. And then, I don’t know what happened. I think I just, I couldn’t handle it anymore. It was just like a lot going on, so I pivoted to other things, but it was great and I would do it again.
Who were you most starstruck to meet?
I have met Beyoncé. But she wasn’t like Beyoncé! Because this was years ago. So, her and Destiny’s Child had just ended, and I met her and she was like a sweet girl. She wasn’t like the Beyoncé that we all know and love today. She was in the making. I’ve been around her since then, and 'cause I met her then it’s no big deal, right? I’m joking. Beyoncé is Beyoncé. Oprah [Winfrey]! I met Lady O, she was great. Are you ready? Do you know who Pat Riley is? So, he used to coach the Lakers. He’s like a slick Italian man, right? And, then he coached the Miami Heat. So, back 100 years ago — now you’re all up in my business — I was dating this guy who played for the Orlando Magic, and they were playing the Lakers and I was back in the green room, back all up in the tunnel and stuff. And, I was just standing there minding my business, and out of nowhere came Pat Riley around the corner, back to the court 'cause it was halftime. I saw him and I was like, "Oh my god!"And his hair was all slick, and he smelled nice. He wasn’t that close to me, but he smelled really good and I was like, "Hi.'"Yeah, he ignored me and kept walking.
Who were you dating at the time?
You’re so in my business right now. The guy I was dating at the time, his name is Dennis Scott. He actually commentates for, currently for NBA live [it's NBA TV] or one of those cable channels, and we still talk to this day. He’s actually a good friend. He was actually, he took me to my prom. Yes. My high school prom. My mom loved him. She actually wanted me to marry him, yes. To this day, probably. But he is married with children.
Is there something you do every day that’s a part of your morning routine or nighttime routine?
Yes, every morning I wake up about 5:30, and I get my mind right, have a little conversation with Jesus, and I eat breakfast by myself without my kids. Quietly. And then I’m ready for the world. I’m ready for my kids to wake up and start talking... So my kids are old enough to wake themselves up with like some sort of alarm, and years ago they wanted to do that and I was like no. I let them do it for a couple of days and then I was like, I don’t like this 'cause I want to wake them up in the morning. Like I want to snuggle in the bed and kiss their face and I want to be the first person that they see. So, that’s all part of my morning, and then I’m ready for the world, to slay the dragons.
What’s your astrological sign, and do you feel like it fits you?
Yes! I am a Virgo, OK, and, I mean, let’s just look at the Virgos out there. There’s me: successful. There’s Beyoncé: yeah. There’s... that’s it. I don’t know anybody other than that. But they say that Virgos are very loyal, but they are robots, like they concentrate and they focus on what they’re doing, they get it done, and that is that. I think that’d be me.
Who would be your first phone call in jail?
It depends on why I’m in jail. So if it’s race-related, I’m calling Al Sharpton. "Al Sharpton, come get me out of jail." If it is, I don’t know, mistaken identity and it’s something stupid, then I will probably call my ex-husband [Jamal Bryant] 'cause I know he’d get me out of jail.
What would he do to get you out of jail?
I have no idea, but he’s going to pay the [bail money] or something. Because he needs somebody to take care of his kids, right? So, he's got to get me out. Yes.