Garcelle Beauvais Discusses the Realities of Being a Black 'Real Housewife' (Exclusive)

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Garcelle Beauvais
Bravo

Garcelle Beauvais made history by becoming the first Black Real Housewife in Beverly Hills, joining an otherwise all-white cast in the show's 10th season. "I am honored and humbled by this awesome opportunity to exemplify the fact that Black Girl Magic lives and thrives in every zip code!" she said at the time. And over the course of her first season, Garcelle did just that.

Now she's opening up about the reality of being a Black woman in today's world in Bravo's special Race in America: A Movement Not a Moment. Together with fellow Housewives Kandi Burruss, Porsha Williams, Gizelle Bryant, Braunwyn Windham-Burke and Leah McSweeney, among other Bravolebrities, Beauvais joins a roundtable conversation about racial inequality, the Black Lives Matter movement and more.

"I'm all about starting conversations, and I feel like this is the time to get everything out that you want to talk about when it comes to race, because people are listening. We finally have everybody's ear," she tells ET. "To be a part of it, I was thrilled that they asked me. And I think that the more conversations we have, the more people will get it. And it's OK if they're uncomfortable, because I think that's how we grow."

Ahead of the premiere of Race in America and the next episode of RHOBH, Beauvais phoned ET to discuss signing on for the special, wanting to have conversation about race with her co-stars and her thoughts on the ongoing Denise Richards drama.

In the special, you open up about your personal experiences with racism, especially as the mother of two multiracial sons. What kind of conversations are you having with your boys right now about this movement?

Garcelle Beauvais: Oh man! I mean, we've always had these conversations, ever since they were little. They know because they have an older brother and they heard me talk to him about it. Now it's more about, "Has it affected any of your friends? Are you guys talking about things?" And they're like, "We are, Mom. Our friends are wanting to have conversations about it," which I find amazing, because they're 12. So, I'm having conversations about the police. I'm having conversations about what it's like being Black in America and how to move forward.

And not scaring them, because I don't want to give them too much information. But just conversations they maybe in turn can have with their teachers, they can have with their friends. And I think the more we do that, the better we are. I have white friends call me and say, "I don't know what to do! I mean, I donated..." And I was like, "It's great that you donated, but it's really more about figuring out if you see something to say something, to change the narrative. Speak up."

You made history as the first Black Housewife on Beverly Hills, and you being there and revealing your life is enough. But as the sole Black cast member in an otherwise all-white group of women, did you feel any pressure or responsibility to have conversations about race with these ladies that they might not otherwise be having on TV?

I wish we had gotten deeper in order to have those conversations, and that was my gripe. [Laughs] That was my gripe within my season, is that I wish we had more meaningful conversations, as opposed to the conversations that were had. So, I'm hoping that'll change maybe next season. But I think I felt definite pressure not only to represent, but also I wanted to make sure that I was representing me and not representing what people think the idea of a Black woman is. Because I think we have other franchises where, you know, the women are definitely not only outspoken, but it's different. And I didn't want to be part of that. I really wanted people to get to know me this season. That was my purpose.

Do you feel like Black Housewives are either portrayed differently or received differently than their white counterparts?

I do. I do. I think the other Housewives that are of color, I feel like people expect them to be pulling the hair and throwing kicks and stuff like that. And it's unfortunate, because I think the times are different. I think women are supporting each other. It's a hard line to do reality and bring the drama that everybody expects, but I also think we've got to go with the time and we have to show some growth.

It can be a double standard, because we see just as many table-flips and just as many fights -- if not more -- from the white Housewives.

Yes. Agree, agree, agree! I think it's really what people expect.

You are in an interesting position where you are actively working in film and TV -- and that side of the industry is reckoning with representation and race in front of and behind the camera -- and now you are on reality TV, which has its own long and complicated history with race and racism. What conversations do you think need to be happening in that space?

I think what needs to happen is that the women have to go a little deeper. I wish somebody had asked me about my experience being a Black woman in Hollywood or a Black mom. I wish we had had those conversations, just because I think we need a little bit of both. We need a little bit of depth and we need a little bit of glamour, we need a little bit of ratchetness, if you will. I wish those conversations were had. So when Bravo said they were bringing different women -- and couples -- together to do this, I was like, "Great. I'm all for it. I'm all for it."

I think some people might feel like, "I don't want my Housewives to become an issue show." And I don't think anyone's trying to make it like that. But last season on Potomac, those gals delivered drama and also did an episode where they visited a plantation museum. And it was incredibly moving, proving there is a room for deeper conversations and those tough conversations within the format of the show.

I feel like it's balance. I watch the Kardashians, and they went to their country and they talked about all kinds of different issues. I've seen them go to homeless shelters. I think when you have a platform like that, you need to be responsible. It doesn't have to be heavy and all that, but I think it's important to also show what's really happening in life.

Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
Bravo

Earlier this season, we saw you lunch with some girlfriends -- and, I mean, in one scene, you increased by 500% the number of Black women on RHOBH -- and people loved it. I saw people calling for your friends to get diamonds. I saw people calling for a spinoff. What did it mean for that scene to receive such a positive reaction?

First of all, we were blown away, because we know we did the scene but didn't know if it was going to actually air. We were blown away that not only did it air, but that episode actually opens with us. And I have to tell you, that meant so much, not only to the Black community, but to us, my girlfriends and me. Because it opened the door, it's like Beverly Hills embraced us. And so for the show to open with that, I was like, beyond excited. And I did see all the social media about, you know, diamonds and shows, and it would be great. It would be great to have a spinoff and hang out with all my girlfriends and have real talk and fun talk and all of it.

What would it mean to you to have another Housewife of color join the show next season, so that you didn't have to be the sole POC voice on RHOBH?

I don't know. I've never really thought about that. Yeah, it would be fun. I'd like to see other diversity too. Maybe a Latina. Maybe an Asian. I think let's mix it up.

I know viewers are very excited to see where the current season of RHOBH goes. Seeing how things are playing out, does it at all affect your stance on whether you believe Denise or not?

No. No, it doesn't. And I know people are wondering that, but it doesn't because I'm standing with her because she's my friend. And I also feel like the subject is so-- I mean, this is her marriage. This is her life. It's not about somebody saying your dress is awful. [Laughs] To me, friendships mean a lot. Especially in this town where people are disposable -- you work with someone and you may not see them again -- it's important to stand with your friends.

So even if Denise is lying, you would say the women are going about it the wrong way.

Yes, exactly. I think that's right. And I think it should have been more about what Denise said about them than if she slept with Brandi [Glanville] or not. It's nobody's business, really. Nobody's business.

Do you feel like viewers will get satisfying answers at the reunion? Or was it "bullshit" like Lisa Rinna said?

No, because we didn't. [Laugh] We didn't, so I don't think they will. I guess you just got to know people's stances a little more, that's what I'd say.

We need to have a reunion to the reunion?

Probably, but I'm going to sit this one out. It took me two days to shake it. I was taking baths. Wine. Saging. Saging my house and myself. [Laughs] Just trying to meditate and know that it's part of the show. But being the first time doing it -- even virtually -- it was still dramatic.

You've said you'll only come back to Housewives if Denise does. Does that seem like a possibility for her at this point?

I don't know. I mean, I spoke to her yesterday. I don't know. That's for her to say. I mean, I had fun. It definitely made me grow and I would definitely do it again for sure.

You better. Everyone loves you. Everyone is loving Sutton Stracke. Everyone is loving you and Sutton together.

Yeah, it's pretty cool. I remember after the whole Rihanna and Fenty, Sutton texted me, she's like, "This is the worst 48 hours I've ever had." I was like, "Girl, hold on to your wig." [Laughs] But I think she's in a better place now with the Fenty people.

With the special airing Sunday, what do you hope that people take away? Where do you hope the conversation will continue in their lives after those 90 minutes, because obviously you can only touch on so much in one special?

One, I hope they take away the fact that Bravo put this together. I think that's really, really cool of them to do, because they could have just done nothing. The other thing is, I hope they come away with maybe their eyes open just a little more, to see the injustices, to treat people differently and don't judge just by the color of your skin.


Race in America: A Movement Not a Moment airs Sunday at 10 p.m. on Bravo. New episodes of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills air Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

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