'RHOP' Star Candiace Dillard on Nicki Minaj, Her Issues With Ashley and Gizelle vs. Wendy (Exclusive)

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Candiace Dillard Bassett has a deal to strike with Nicki Minaj: Deliver eight bars on a remix to her new song "Drive Back" and Candiace will answer Nicki's most burning question left over from season 5 of The Real Housewives of Potomac

"One question for eight bars," Candiace reiterates while Zooming with ET. The offer comes after Nicki entered the chat about RHOP a few weeks back on social media, posting a promo for the show that featured a Potomac-themed version of her track "Moment for Life." Nicki joked she would be taking over reunion hosting duties from Andy Cohen, something Andy himself told ET he'd be willing to figure out -- at least in part. He says they're eying for the rapper to join for some sort of segment with the women of the DMV when the all-cast event tapes this fall.

"The Nicki Minaj saga, because it's ever growing and changing, right? Every day I feel like we're getting new information about, is she going to come to the reunion? Is she not?" Candiace rattles off. "I was live-tweeting last week's episode and she's literally live-tweeting with us and asking for opinions and giving her opinions. I'm going to have no edges. It's too much. It's just too much stress for me."

Nicki called out Candiace directly when the Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen Instagram account dropped in her IG comments to say Nicki should do a feature on "Drive Back." Nicki was confused at first, asking, "babe what's dat?" When the WWHL account explained it was Candiace's song, Nicki replied, "oh yea … it’s a nice song. But @ reunion ima have to get into some thangz wit sissy. Cuz chiiiile."

"I did not take what she said about my song as shade," Candiace notes. "She said, 'Oh, it's a nice song,' but we have things to talk about at the reunion. And I was like, 'OK girl, bye. Get on this track and then let's go home. I ain't talking to you about nothing that happened in season 5. Good night."

It's clear Candiace is done speaking about the events of season 5, which largely focused on a physical altercation between her and now-former co-star Monique Samuels, and the event's aftermath. Candiace calls season 6 "fun," dubbing it the season she always wanted to have on RHOP.

"This season I think is what I thought my first season would be like and what I thought, when I pictured myself in this experience, this is what I saw," she shares. "Because, what you've seen so far is who I am. I like to have fun. I like to laugh. I like to joke around."

"I wished the audience had gotten to see [that] from the beginning," she adds. 'Not that the 'pop-off Candiace' is not me, because I'm multifaceted. Black women are not monoliths and there are many layers to us, OK? But I think that it was just, you were just seeing that one part of me, and I'm happy that the audience and that you guys are getting to see another part of me. This is, this season has been fun for me so far."

Candiace first joined the show in season 3 by way of Ashley Darby, a friend from the pageant circuit in the D.C. area. Their relationship has been full of ups and downs -- well, really, just downs -- but the why has gotten lost in the mix, even for Candiace herself. 

"It's funny, I don't think anyone has ever publicly asked me that question," Candiace says of what's at the core of her beef with Ashley. "I don't think anyone has ever gotten this answer publicly. I've had to think about it, too, because I got lost in it, as well. For me, when I first joined this cast, when I first joined this group of girls, I came in as Ashley's friend. We knew each other through the pageant world. As a friend, I have a standard of protocols. Loyalty is one of them."

"For example, when Wendy [Osefo] came in, I welcomed with open arms," Candiace notes. "I introduced her to the group. I stood by her. I called her every other day. I made sure she was good. I checked in with her. I was her friend. I didn't get that from Ashley. Ashley brought me in, she dumped me on the side of the road, and then she was shading me in confessionals five minutes after I joined the cast. I didn't even see that until it aired. I was like, 'Wow. Who is this girl?'"

Ashley Darby and Candiace Dillard just before their memorable 'butter knife fight' on The Real Housewives of Potomac
Shannon Finney / Bravo / NBCU Photo Bank / NBCUniversal via Getty Images

If viewers go back to Candiace’s first episode, moments after Ashley introduces Candiace to the group, she makes fun of Candiace's pageant experience as being "off-brand." While that may feel like par for the course shade in the world of Housewives, Candiace notes it was just the first of many digs to come over the last few years.

"If we're friends, why are you shading me in your confessionals?" she asks. "And why are you not showing any sense of loyalty to me, whatsoever? From there, it became a bunch of flexing matches. The true catalyst, for me, was when she involved herself in legal matters, simply to be vindictive."

Candiace is referencing Ashley's choice to write a character statement in support of Monique amid the legal fallout from their altercation. All charges were ultimately dropped, but the damage was done. 

"'Now we're even,' is what she said to me," Candiace recalls. "There's a scene of her and Gizelle [Bryant] and Robyn [Dixon], where Gizelle is like, 'This is not going to help you all's friendship.' From Ashley's mouth, she says, 'I don't care.' You don't care, watch me not care better than you."

Ashley recently gave her own explanation for her falling out with Candiace on Watch What Happens Live, saying, "That's my issue with Candiace, no matter how much you try to talk to her about something and confront her about something, she’s always going to find some way to, you know, like, push it off, shove it off."

"I think it’s poppycock," Candiace fires back. "Ashley is the queen of deflection. The queen of deflection. There are so many examples… She's full of you know what. I literally pay her no mind. None. You can't take anything she says seriously. She's disloyal to everybody, except... let me, I'm going to not be rude. You know who she's loyal to, because that's where her help is. Everybody else can get it at any time. People like that are dangerous people, so I stay far, far away."

The two will come face to face soon, though, when Ashley arrives late to the all-cast trip to Williamsburg, Virgina, to which Candiace did not invite her. This is the second group event Candiace excluded Ashley from, though it's worth noting that the 33-year-old had just given birth to her second son. It’s unclear if anything will go down between the pair, but a sneak peek at Sunday's episode does show Ashley stirring up a little drama for Wendy. Ashley informs Wendy that Gizelle has been asking around about rumors circulating on "the blogs" that Wendy's husband, Eddie, has been unfaithful, leading to a massive blowup between the professor and the Bravo's Chat Room co-host.

"It's probably almost a full-tilt wig shift moment," Candiace teases of what all goes down in Williamsburg. "Only because it comes out of nowhere. You know, like, we're sitting there doing a whiskey tasting … and then Wendy disappears, and then all of a sudden it's, like, we are in ruins. It's rocks flying everywhere and just, tornado. It's crazy."

"That moment was intense and it kind of lingered, obviously, for the rest of the trip," she shares. "I tried to pick it back up. I think, I lost it for a moment, 'cause it was-- the blog stuff was triggering to me. So I kind of had a moment. But then we kind of got back together and worked it out. Wendy, maybe not so much, but we tried."

As seen in the trailer for the season, Wendy tells Gizelle, "What you’re not going to do is, you're not going to play with my husband's name. … I see you for everything everyone ever said that you were. … I will light yo' a** up."

Gizelle has maintained that she only repeated the rumors out of concern for her co-star, but Wendy doesn’t see it that way. She told ET it felt like a premeditated attack in a pattern of Gizelle inserting herself into her co-stars' marriages. 

"I still haven't processed it, mostly because I've never believed the rumors," Candiace admits of the whole ordeal. "One thing that Wendy did say, and I echoed, was that we have all in our past, in our girl group, we've all been negatively affected by the fodder that the blogs put out. It has hurt everyone in our group. It has bruised all of our families in some way. And I just hated that we were giving, once again, a platform on our platform to these horrific people who literally eat off of our pain. That's where I was with it."

"I wish that there was just something else to talk about," she says. "But Gizelle, she's going to carry a bone, honey. And you have to be ready, to quote someone that we know well, 'We have to be ready to return serve.'"

Wendy Osefo and Gizelle Bryant face off on season 6 of The Real Housewives of Potomac
Bravo

Candiace says Wendy was blindsided by the "sneak attack" because she "thought she was safe with Gizelle."

"What we all must learn, dear grasshopper, is that no one is safe with Gizelle," Candiace purrs. "And the sooner you learn that, the quicker that you can kind of let things roll off your back. Be like a duck, let it roll off your back. 'Cause she was really hurt, Wendy. You could see it. Wendy wears everything on her face and she was just, like, shocked and hurt, and every emotion was just right on her face. Because she thought that she was immune to Gizelle's tirades and her terrorism."

Unlike season 5, though, Candiace promises that the drama between Gizelle and Wendy does not upend the friend group. 

"There isn't a lot of lingering, whereas last season, we were stuck on one or two things for 19 episodes," she says. "We are able to pick up and move quicker this season, which I appreciate."

"Wendy is a very mature, very smart woman," she adds. "She knows how to pick herself up and carry on. There were definitely some heated moments after that. I think right after the fight, there's a moment between the two of them -- and we're all in the same room -- one tries to speak to the other, and it doesn't go well. Then, I think we separate for a while, which helps. I'm thanking God that I had the wherewithal to put them in different houses [on the trip], so that they wouldn't have to see each other all day, every day. I think we are better able, this season, to move forward."

In addition to speaking about Wendy’s marriage, Gizelle seems a tad obsessed with Wendy's new body. The Johns Hopkins professor got a bit of a mommy makeover between seasons 5 and 6, opting for a breast augmentation and Brazilian butt lift. Her new look comes with new confidence, and Wendy has been showing off her upgraded assets in revealing fashions in every episode. 

"I’ve seen more of your body parts in the past month than I have in the entire time I’ve known you," Gizelle tells Wendy, with Robyn chiming in to say, "The Wendy I met last year was not that… loose."

"The girl is showing off her new titties, honey. Let Happy and Ness breathe," Candiace says, referencing the names with which Wendy blessed her new breasts. "They're just trying to get settled into their new cavities. And new-booty Wendy is here to stay. I love it. I think it's amazing. As someone who is preparing for motherhood -- I'm not pregnant, but preparing mentally for motherhood -- the moment I get pregnant I will be making the appointment."

Wendy Osefo flaunts her refreshed figure on The Real Housewives of Potomac
Bravo

"Gizelle has had work done,” she then blurts out. "After she had twins, she was stretched into high heaven. Everybody gets work done. I don't understand why it's a thing that Wendy is celebrating her new body."

Moving off from Wendy, but sticking with Gizelle, season 6 has its moments of Potomac deja vu, as the EveryHue Beauty founder is once again in a battle with Karen Huger. The RHOP OGs have been tossing barbs back and forth for as long as they've been on the show. This year, Karen is twisting a comment Gizelle made years ago about her husband Ray's age, into saying she wished death upon him, taking their feud into a new circle of petty. Last week's episode left off in the middle of a sparring match between the pair, surrounded by the cast.

"Every day is a challenge with those two," Candiace quips. "They are kind of like two old ladies in a nursing home, who got this, like, centuries-long history. Inside at the bottom of their sternums, they love each other, but they just get such a kick out of bickering that that's what they're going to do to the bitter end. There are some, some ebbs and flows, some more ebbs and flows -- and there's some breakthrough moments with them that I was shocked by -- but then it kind of goes left again."

Candiace says she keeps her "hard hat on" when around both Gizelle and Karen, the latter of whom she has her own issues with. Karen and Candiace ended season 5 on a sour note, with Candiace accusing Karen of trying to get her fired from the show over the drama with Monique. Karen stayed neutral in the aftermath of the altercation, a big no-no in Candiace's book of loyalty. 

"I have to accept people for where they are, when they show me, and it just, it is what it is," Candiace says of Karen. "It's not worth arguing over because I'm not in the business of trying to change entire human beings. I can only change myself. And it's, Karen is for Karen and I can't change that."

Speculation circulated, even amongst Candiace's co-stars, that she did not want to be around Karen when the season started. She sat out the first group dinner, Wendy’s Nude Interlude party to debut her new look, and Robyn suggested it was to avoid Karen.  

The season 6 cast of Bravo's The Real Housewives of Potomac
Bravo

"Categorically false," Candiace declares. "I ain't scared of no bleep, OK? I run from no one. I don't fuss with anybody but the devil, unless I have to, OK? I was having some issues with my lower hemisphere. I had to sit down. That's all. And I hate [it], ‘cause that was the first cast event. I was devastated that I had to miss it. But I could not have gone. Driving? Wendy lives in west bumble-f**k, America. I just, I was too nervous to have to ride in the car for two hours."

Candiace says her stomach distress is the only thing that kept her from attending the dinner, shutting down further rumors that she was holding out on signing her contract for season 6 and some creative editing was done to make it look like she couldn't attend. Viewers speculated she simply wasn’t filming at the time. 

Candiace says there is some positive movement when it comes to her relationship with Karen this season, but the pair will never be at the place they once were. Karen has a pattern of taking the new girls -- from Ashley to Monique to Candiace -- under her wing, but only for a select period of time, something she’s predicting will happen to season 6's new addition, Mia Thornton, too. 

"Yeah, I do," she shrugs. "But my hope is that maybe Karen sees the pattern and she maybe does some work to find some genuine nuggets and put them in her back pocket and let them seep into her. Because yeah, it very much gives, 'Let me attach myself to someone who is looking for guidance and ride that out until they see who I am, and then dip out.' Peace out."

While Candiace is offering a sort-of warning to Mia, she's also cautious of her new co-star. Fans are eagerly anticipating the “salad toss” fight between the two, first teased in the season 6 trailer. Candiace says viewers will have to wait a beat, seeing as the moment doesn't go down until the second cast trip later this season. 

"Everybody is, 'Oh my God. Candiace is being so nice to Mia, then she throws a salad in her face!' Yes, that is true," Candiace comments. "It was a slow burn. You see, so far, I'm team Mia. I like her. She's fun. She's very candid, and she's great -- for me, as someone who is watching it all now. I enjoy watching her. I know that the audience does, too."

The Real Housewives of Potomac get into a salad-tossing fight in the season 6 trailer
Bravo

"You see her, one by one, just picking off each of us," she teases. "She takes a moment to haze everybody in the group, except for Karen. At this time, I have not had my turn. When it's my turn, and you'll see that play out in future episodes, I wasn't ready, because I thought that we were cool. It's clear that she also displays no loyalty to anybody, and will go at whomever when it suits her, when she's in the mood. The problem is, if you're going to come at me, just be prepared for me to come back. That's how that works."

"I was here for her until I wasn't," Candiace says, adding that she has some questions for her co-star come reunion day. "I think, true to form, with those who can't handle it in this group, when my mouth gets going sometimes you lose your words, and you just got to pick up a salad, I guess."

"Y'all just need to pick up a dictionary, learn to put your words together, girl," she adds. The trailer shows what looks to be production getting involved in the salad toss, but Candiace says that's simply just her husband, Chris Bassett, stepping in to help separate her from Mia. Chris is stepping in a lot more for Candiace now that he’s her husbanger, AKA her husband/manager of her budding music career. Candiace recently signed with eOne Nashville and released the single "Drive Back." Viewers will get to see the behind-the-scenes making of the track’s video, which features cameos from her co-stars. 

"Everybody didn't just get in. Yes, they had to audition," Candiace reveals. "I hope they show this because, yes. Some of the saints, I had to extend a little bit of grace to some of the saints, because, yeah... a few of them -- because we did two separate auditions and one was like an interpretive thing and I was kind of side-eyeing like, 'Is this what we're doing? What are we giving?' Yeah. It was so funny. It's so, so, so fun."

Candiace shot two music videos back to back under Chris' supervision, much to her mother Dorothy’s dismay. Dorothy was very vocal with Candiace early in this season's run that she does not think husbands and wives should get into business together, but Candiace thinks there’s a little jealousy at play. 

"I think that she will probably always side-eye it, because my mom wants to be the Kris Jenner in my life, as she refers to herself," she says. 

A full record is on the way, with influences of the voices Candiace grew up listening to: Toni Braxton, Monica, Brandy, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey

"You're going to get a little bit of R&B, a little bit more of a pop vibe, but I also love rock sounds," she says. "So, you're going to get some electric guitars, some crazy synth sounds, some really cool percussion sounds. … My team has really supported me in giving you all an amalgamation of sounds. So, you're going to get everything."

Cameras captured that journey, as well as Candiace and Chris’ home life. Viewers will see the couple get real about having a child together. Chris has two children from a previous relationship.

"I got pretty intense and emotional about my baby journey. It's not that I don't want to watch it back, it's a lot of emotion, and I am not particularly excited about being back in that emotional place about what happens," Candiace shares, "and what we decide to go through with my journey to becoming a mom. And it's raw. It's a lot of raw moments, and it's very vulnerable. I'm, at this point, I know everybody hates when I cry, and I'm not looking forward to people being like, 'Oh, she's crying again.'"

Candiace recently decided to turn the tables on viewers who slide into her and her co-stars' DMs and comment sections to spew vitriol, now regularly reposting hateful messages she receives. 

"Sometimes it goes so far, and people need to understand how toxic social media can be and do better," she says. "And I say this as someone who has had my moments where I've said mean things to people on social media. But the things that some people say to me and to all my friends, the girls on the show with me, somebody told Robyn to die in a fire. That stuff is just dangerous. And we have to do better because you would never walk up to her and say that."

"Take it for entertainment," she asks. "If there's a lesson to be learned in it, take that lesson. I also get a lot of really pleasant messages from people and emails, thanking me or saying that they went through X, Y, and Z, which I love. But it just feels like there's, oftentimes, more of that really sick, negative vitriol. And I had a moment, and I said, 'You know what? I'm exposing this because it needs to stop.' And the response has been insane. People are really shocked and just appalled by it, which I hope is a message to us to hold each other accountable. And you don't know me, girl. It's very much giving 'Stan.' It's giving Eminem's 'Stan,' and nobody has time."

Candiace is also quick to point out the hypocrisy of the meanest commentators. "It's like, 'I'm a child of God, but F you! You ugly,'" she says. "It's always the ones that are the Jesus stompers, but they didn't really come from Jesus, OK? I would know."

The Real Housewives of Potomac airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo. 

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