The 'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' star shares her take on where the Bravo hit is headed and dishes on her new gig at 'The Real.'
"I am returning to the Housewives, yes," Garcelle confesses over video chat with ET, laughing her way through the confirmation. "You know, you gotta be a little, a little brave. A little scared. A little ready. I mean, it's all those things, and I say it with a laugh because I'm ready, but you're never really ready."
Sophomore seasons on the Real Housewives franchise are historically tough, especially on Beverly Hills. It's brought viewers panty-gate, puppy-gate and, most recently, the demise of Denise Richards and Lisa Rinna's decades-long friendship.
"That's what I'm afraid of," Garcelle admits. "So, here we go, you know? And I sorta got a warning from Ms. Rinna, so we'll see. I'm ready though, bring it."
Garcelle will be without her season 10 buddy Denise in season 11. The actress announced her departure from RHOBH before the season even finished airing. Denise's final appearance as a Housewife was in part three of the tense reunion, which ended with her tearing up over feeling betrayed by Lisa after months of she said, she drama over whether Denise hooked up with former Real Housewives star Brandi Glanville. Denise denied having an intimate relationship with Brandi, but most of her co-stars didn’t believe her. Garcelle was always "Team Denise," though.
"I'm sad about it," Garcelle says of Denise’s departure. "I really wish she wouldn't leave the franchise. I think she's great. I think she brings a lot. I think the fans obviously love her and root for her, so I'm really sad about it. I wish there was something that could have been done. I'm going to miss her, obviously. I'm going to miss her on the platform, but we always talk."
Garcelle is holding out hope that Denise might appear with her on screen for a catch-up dinner or cocktails in season 11 (have the Casamigos Reposado ready!), but that could be a tough sell for the The Bold and the Beautiful star. She leaves RHOBH on rocky terms with most of the women, some of whom even celebrated her exit announcement with memes, GIFs and other social media snark.
"I was actually shocked," Garcelle says of seeing how her cast mates reacted to the Denise news. "I was really shocked by the memes, I thought that they were really mean. I mean it's one thing to be on the show and have your feelings, but for her to say, I'm leaving the franchise, at that point you gotta level up and you gotta say, 'Good luck, Denise, we wish you were...' I mean, just something kind."
The audience largely stayed on Denise's side throughout season 10, and Garcelle hopes her co-stars take note of that and "show a little bit of growth, a little bit of maturity" moving forward.
The 53-year-old will have to do some moving forward of her own, too, with some of her co-stars. Garcelle called out Lisa for her "attacks" on Denise "every time you see her," and left the reunion with “a bad taste” in her mouth over how Lisa handled things with Denise.
Garcelle says she doesn’t know where she and Lisa go from here. The pair has also shared a friendship for more than 20 years, though Garcelle has made it no secret that she finds the Lisa she knew away from reality TV cameras to be a different Lisa.
"The Rinna that I knew before Housewives is what I can really speak to, you know," she says. "She was fun, she was supportive, she was nice, she was kind, and I get it -- we're shooting a TV show, and I get that drama is a part of it -- but I think she took it to a level that was not a good look."
Lisa recently went on Instagram to suggest to viewers that it’s not always her decision to take things to the "own it" place she so often does, writing, "Tell Bravo you want to see the fun again, you are tired of the fighting and you want to see our lives, you want belly laughs, you want fun, and you want the glamour. We want that too, but they think you want to see us fighting all the time. Please write to @bravotv tell them you want fun and joy and laughter and the glamour brought back! Please!!!"
"I didn't see that, but I heard that she did that," Garcelle says in response. "I don't know where that's coming from."
Garcelle will also have to face Kyle Richards in season 11. The women did not get off on the best foot in season 10, with Garcelle saying she believed Kyle was "uninterested" in getting to know her. Then they left things off even worse at the reunion, where Kyle accused Garcelle of not making good on a charitable donation, an issue Garcelle says has been resolved and that should've been handled privately. Garcelle plans to mention it all, to borrow a phrase from a different Housewife (Bethenny Frankel), once she comes face to face with Kyle on camera.
"I have no idea how that's going to go, but it's really important to me that her and I sit down right away and hash it out -- or talk it through, however you want to put it,"she says.
The entire group's dynamic with Kyle will no doubt be different after the departure of another cast member, Teddi Mellencamp, whom most of the women considered to be Kyle's closest friend in the group. She announced that her contract was not picked up for season 11 in late September. When asked about how she feels about Teddi leaving, Garcelle pauses for a long time -- 10 seconds, to be exact -- before offering a deadpan, "OK."
Kyle may have some new support on the show, though, as reports circulate that her big sister, Kathy Hilton, is joining the cast in some capacity.
"I met Kathy at a few dinners, she seems like a lovely lady," Garcelle offers. "That seems like an ally, obviously, for Kyle and you know the more the merrier. … I don't want to throw shade, I haven't spent time with her. Let me spend time with her and we'll go from there."
While Housewives executive producer Andy Cohen has shut down rumors of other castings -- including Kris Jenner, her ex Caitlyn Jenner and Caitlyn’s roommate, Sophia Hutchins -- there is one new name floating around "the blogs," as the Housewives say: Crystal Kung Minkoff. She's reportedly a descendant of the Chinese philosopher Confucius, and the wife of Hollywood director Robert Minkoff, who's helmed animated projects including 1994's The Lion King and the Stuart Little films.
"I don't know her," Garcelle says, before admitting her she "probably will" meet her soon. RHOBH is reportedly already in production, or at the least ramping up for it. Bravo does not comment on casting speculation or on series not currently airing.
Crystal would bring more diversity to the line-up, but Garcelle would welcome even more. A brief happy hour she shared early in season 10 with her girlfriends, a group including Will Smith's ex-wife Sheree Zampino, was a big hit with viewers, some immediately calling for Bravo to hire Garcelle’s gaggle of pals on the show.
"The response has been incredible and when we're together, you know, it's so much fun," Garcelle says of her close circle of Black women. "We're not trying to shade each other or anything like that. If we do, it's out of fun. So, I would love to see more of that and I think Bravo does, too."
Garcelle is bringing plenty of that style of girl talk to her two other jobs outside of Housewives: her podcast, Going to Bed With Garcelle, and the daytime chat fest The Real. Garcelle joined the talk show for its seventh season, sliding into the seat left empty by original co-host Tamera Mowry.
"You know what's so funny, I was at home and I was watching TV, one of the entertainment shows -- probably yours -- and they said that Tamera was leaving The Real, and I was like, 'Oh that's too bad.' And a light bulb didn't even go off for me, because I figured OK, I'm busy already, right?" Garcelle recalls, discussing how she landed the job.
"Then my good friend Jawn Murray calls me and he goes, 'Are you throwing your hat in the ring?' And I was like, oh, I really haven't thought about it. And he's like, ‘Are you crazy?’ And then I was like, 'You're right, I am crazy,'" she continues. "Then we started the process and I tested with a bunch of different women who all were capable of doing the job, and I'm thrilled that I was the chosen one."
She says a big factor in her decision to sign onto The Real is that it would keep her in Los Angeles for work, making it easier to make Housewives. She missed out on a few group events in her first season because of other work commitments. Garcelle says everything has been "really great" in her first few weeks on the job, which is all being done virtually, from home.
"The commute is awesome!" she jokes. "I'm already at the office, I'm right here. It’s been really fun. I mean, the girls and I are just seamless. That's seamless, that's effortless, it's a lot of fun -- a lot of technical difficulties, because we're all doing it from home. It's all so different, but I think we have a really great group and I'm beyond excited about it."
Garcelle says she's learning new things about herself by doing the show, like being patient enough to not to talk over her co-hosts, and new things about her co-stars. Apparently Loni Love is not a morning person. Garcelle hasn't heard from Tamera, but fully anticipates that the Sister, Sister star will swing back by her old digs sometime for an interview. She did hear from The Real's other departing co-host, Amanda Seales, though. While guesting on Garcelle's podcast, Amanda offered this piece of advice: "Good luck."
"I was like, that's it?" Garcelle asks with a big laugh.
Garcelle gets to have FCC-acceptable chats on The Real every day, then delve into the NSFW chatter weekly on Going to Bed With Garcelle -- and sometimes, the conversations overlap. She recently reunited with her The Jamie Foxx Show co-star Jamie Foxx on the podcast, and the duo's discussion of why they never dated made its way to daytime.
Loni confronted Garcelle with her own words, asking why Jamie being "hung like a horse" was a dealbreaker for Garcelle. As she attempted to explain herself, Jeannie Mai jumped in and asked, "How you know he’s hung?!"
"I mean, you know, obviously it's not a bad thing right," Garcelle says now, adding that she did not hear from Jamie after the podcast interview blew up. Ultimately the reason Garcelle and Jamie never dated is because they didn't want to ruin their strong friendship. It has nothing to do with what’s in Jamie's pants.
"Have at it," she says to women who might be interested in the actor. "He's a good sport."
Garcelle's podcast just hit 200,000 downloads and she’s working hard to land some dream guests, like Eve, Jennifer Hudson and even another new podcast host, Michelle Obama.
"I don't think she would talk about her sex life with Barack," she notes. "But we could talk about just relationships in general."
"Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night going, 'Oh my god. I can't believe I revealed so much. What am I doing?!'" Garcelle says of her show. "But it's really fun and I think, you know, everybody who leaves the show has a great time, and it's empowering that we can sort of own our sexuality and just be free with it."
Of her co-stars, Garcelle says she's most interested in getting Erika Jayne and Dorit Kemsley to spill on their sex lives. She would also like to bring Sutton Stracke on, but doubts she'd be comfortable talking about any of the traditionally "taboo" topics she likes to get into. Sutton went bright red at the discussion of her bank account on RHOBH, so Garcelle can only imagine what would happen if she brought up what happens in the bedroom.
Garcelle will also hit the big screen later this year (so long as no more film release delays happen) in Coming 2 America, the long-awaited sequel to the 1988 Eddie Murphy classic comedy, Coming to America. The original film was one of Garcelle's first acting credits, a small role as a royal rose bearer. She reprises the part, seemingly in a larger capacity, in the sequel.
"It was like time stood still," she says of being back on set with Eddie, Arsenio Hall and the other returning actors. "We all look the same because Black don't crack, so that was great!"
"It is obviously nostalgic, I think you'll be surprised by who is added to the cast and where the storyline goes, but then it's going to be visually stunning and I just pray we are in theaters by then," she adds.
Until then, you can catch Garcelle weekdays on The Real (check your local listings) and weekly on Going to Bed With Garcelle, available wherever you listen to podcasts. The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills will return to Bravo in 2021.