Bravo Insider Exclusive!

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, sweepstakes, and more!

Sign Up for Free to View
The Daily Dish The Real Housewives of New York City

Jessel Taank Opens Up About Family Background and the "Pressure" of Being an Indian Housewife

Jessel Taank felt "intense pressure" as the first Indian Housewife to be cast in The Real Housewives of New York City, until she realized she could really only represent her own unique journey.

By Jill Sederstrom

As the first Indian cast member of The Real Housewives of New York CityJessel Taank is using her time in the spotlight to bring attention to a culture often under-represented in the media and open up about her fertility journey with IVF — a topic that has, she said,  traditionally been seen as “taboo” in her culture. 

How to Watch

Watch The Real Housewives of New York City on Peacock and catch up on the Bravo app

“I really want to share my story in the hopes that other women who are of Indian and Middle Eastern descent can be comfortable to talk about it,” she told The Daily Dish of the reason she decided to share her struggle. 

Jessel Taank on Her Parents and Family Background

Jessel has earned a spot in Bravo history as the first Indian woman to be cast as a Housewife in the Real Housewives of New York City series.

RELATED: Jessel Taank Threw a Party with A-List Fashion Stars: See Who Attended

Initially, she admitted she felt “immense pressure” to accurately represent Indian culture, something she said isn’t often represented in the media today. But she’s quick to point out that she now realizes she’s only representing her own journey as an Indian woman. 

Jessel Taank at Watch What Happens Live wearing a silver dress.

And that’s something she’s more than happy to do.

“I don’t want to bear the weight of representing an entire culture on my shoulders,” she explained. “I think that I just have to be who I am, you know? I’m not really your stereotypical Indian girl. Like, I’m very outspoken, I have opinions and I’m not afraid to speak my mind and I think we’re a very private culture in general and I’m a little bit more out there.” 

Even so, Jessel is “really excited” to “share a little more about my background and culture in the way that I know it.”

Jessel also opened up about her childhood as a first-generation British-Indian to The Daily Dish.

Her parents, who met through an arranged marriage, were born in Africa and came to the United Kingdom amid political unrest. 

“It was really tough for them,” she said. “I can’t even imagine having to uproot your entire family and everything you’ve known and go to a country that is not home. So, growing up, I really felt that struggle.”

Although they weren’t able to go to school themselves and instead had to dive straight into the workforce to support the family, education was always something her parents stressed. 

“For them, education was such a big deal and that’s kind of why I place such a big emphasis on it,” she said of the values they instilled in her.

Why Jessel Taank Moved to America

With that backdrop, Jessel got a degree from England’s prestigious King’s College before making the jump across the pond to pursue a career in the fashion industry. 

RELATED: Jessel Taank Gifts Andy Cohen RHONY's Infamous "Christmas Tree" Lingerie

“When I did come to America to be in the fashion world, I think they were obviously worried and a bit confused,” she said of her parents. “They didn’t really know where I would take it and for me, I really didn’t know where it was gonna go either.” 

What Jessel did have were two uncles who were already working in the United States as fashion photographers.

“They’re both here in New York and I lived with one and I worked with the other and so I just remember calling them and telling them my plan and they were like, without even blinking, ‘Yes, of course, we can help you,’” she recalled. 

It’s a gift she’s still grateful for today.

Jessel Taank poses at the Neveer Have I Ever reception.

“I talk about my uncles a lot because quite frankly, without them, I wouldn’t be here,” she said. “I would never have met my husband. I would  never have been given this opportunity to live in New York.” 

Jessel’s close ties with her family and the lessons they taught her along the way still remain close to her heart. 

“My family is my story,” she said. 

Assimilating to a new country and establishing herself as a fashion publicist wasn’t easy and Jessel admitted that sometimes she has felt like a “fish out of water” as she tries to get her bearings.

“I do think that being first generation in any country is tough because you have all these nuances of like, who are you as an Indian woman and how do you assimilate to what’s around you?” she said. “Being British and in America, I think it’s two different cultures and you see a lot of that actually in the show because like, I’ll think that something’s funny and it’s just not.” 

RELATED: New RHONY Cast Member Jenna Lyons Is a Met Gala Regular — See Her Best Looks

Jessel found her way to the top by working in unpaid internships that brought her into the fashion world and building on each success she had. 

Jessel Taank on Sharing IVF Journey

Today, Jessel and husband Pavit Randhawa juggle their thriving careers with being new parents to adorable twin boys, Kai and Rio. But  their road to parenthood was paved with bumps of its own.

Jessel endured nearly three years of fertility treatments, including in vitro fertilization, before welcoming the twins.

Jessel Taank Children Update

 She kept much of the struggle a secret — not even telling her parents until recently about the twin’s origin story — in part, due to the “very private” nature of her Indian culture.

“You know I think in our culture, women are sort of seen as just this sort of mechanism for bearing children, like you know it is very much a cultural stigma if you are not able to have kids or you are having fertility issues,” she explained. “You don’t really talk about it and that’s something I really felt during almost three years of going through the IVF process and my struggles. I didn’t feel that I was able to open up about all of these things.” 

Jessel decided to challenge herself and share her own difficult experience on RHONY because she felt “as a culture we do need to evolve on some of these conversations and normalize the types of things” that women go through. 

RELATED: Is Tribeca Up and Coming? Fredrik Eklund Weighs In on Jessel Taank's Comments

“I think, you know, trying to grow a family or trying to do all that stuff is so tough in itself. Then you have all these added layers of cultural barriers that really prevent that from happening,” she continued. “I just really want to be able to touch other women and give them the strength that I didn’t have.”

With her parents an ocean away in London, Jessel kept her IVF journey a secret from them, in part, to “protect them.” 

“My mum, it’s like even if I have a cold, she won’t sleep, she won’t eat,” she said. “She’ll just freak out and I’m sure every mother’s like that.” 

Eventually, Jessel opened up to her mom and received nothing but support and love in return.

Openly talking about her struggles on a national platform was scary, but Jessel has found she’s been embraced by the Indian community. 

“They have completely banded together and have been such an incredible support system to me throughout this entire process,” she said. “Everyone’s really just excited to finally have an Indian housewife and it took 13 years, which is crazy.”

--- Original reporting by Stephanie Gomulka

Want the latest Bravo updates? Text us for breaking news and more!