'The Real Housewives of Potomac' star Gizelle Bryant holds nothing back while saying her piece on all things season 6 with ET.
A truce in the world of Real Housewives is rare, and when one does happen, it's often not for long -- but Gizelle Bryant seems to think the ceasefire between Karen Huger and herself on the most recent episode of The Real Housewives of Potomac is going to stick.
"Karen and I are fine, I think," she confesses to ET, Zooming in from her newly renovated closet. "I mean, I don't know. She might change her mind tomorrow. Who knows? And I'll deal with that accordingly, but as of today, we're fine."
The two -- who have been more foe than friend over the past six seasons of RHOP -- agreed to wipe the slate clean at a "Goddess Party" thrown by new Housewife Mia Thornton. That doesn't mean they're besties, though. The two simultaneously offered up a "No" when co-star Ashley Darby suggested they seal their make-good with a hug. "No need for any of that," Gizelle explains. "No need for touching. There's COVID."
Gizelle says she didn't go into the luncheon expecting to make amends with the Grande Dame (as she nicknamed Karen in season 1), but knew it was the well overdue thing to do.
"I knew that we were wearing the ladies out," she shares. "Every time we were together, it was battle royale, and the ladies were sick of it. And to be quite honest, I had been at that point bored with arguing with her, you know what I mean? So I did want us to be able to have a conversation, because up until then, we hadn't really had a conversation. It was just kind of like, 'F you! F you.' It was weird. So I felt like it was high time for us to act like adults and just kind of talk and that's what we did."
There's a bit of fourth-wall breaking at play, too, whether intentional or subconscious. At the end of the day, Gizelle knows that The Real Housewives of Potomac, the show, is stronger with both she and Karen on it. There's never going to be a "winner" when it comes to their dynamic.
"The subtext was, it's not good for the show for us to continue this exercise of disrespecting each other," she notes. "And show or no show, it's just not good. It's not healthy. It's not productive. And it had been a long time since Karen and I were just having fun together -- and we do know how to do that very well -- so, I just was bored with fighting with her and just needed to move on. And there was a lot that we didn't see in that episode that I said. All the ladies, and I'm not even going to rehash it, but all the ladies was like, 'Karen, you wrong.'"
Yes, according to Gizelle, what made it to TV was only about half of the conversation she and Karen had in front of their castmates. The moment did include a montage of apologies Gizelle has made to Karen over the years, though.
"The editors had nothing to pull from the past of her ever apologizing to me," Gizelle points out. "It was high time. It was overdue. That's why I wasn't going to allow her to apologize to the sky or give a general apology to the group. Nope, nope."
Gizelle's apology from Karen finally came after Gizelle told her longtime co-star that comments she made at the season 5 reunion about her ex-husband, Jamal Bryant, allegedly fathering a child while he and Gizelle were back together, deeply upset the three teenaged daughters she shares with the Atlanta-based pastor. Karen posed the question about Jamal at the reunion after then-castmate Monique Samuels pulled out a binder of "receipts" that included the rumor. Some viewers have speculated that Gizelle actually wants an apology from Monique, and is more upset with Monique, but is turning that energy toward Karen because she is still on the show.
"No, not at all," Gizelle says to that. "What Karen did as it relates to Jamal and the reunion and all that nonsense was horrible, and I don't care who you're friends with, you have to own what you do in this group."
"Cut to the goddess lunch, and I'm like, you want to scream to all these ladies that I, Gizelle, wants to break up families? No, you were the one that decided to bring [my then-boyfriend] Sherman's ex-girlfriend on to the show," she continues. "So we never even hashed that out. We did hash that out. They cut it. But that was a big part of that and that was kind of like the new girls, Wendy [Osefo] and Mia were like, 'Oh, wait a minute. Karen, you wrong.' They're just like, 'You've got some owning up and apologizing to do because you done some dirt and you've never been accountable for it.'"
Part of the binder/reunion theory is born out of this myth that Gizelle had a meltdown at the taping last year, which she denies: "If I had a meltdown, trust and believe they would have found me in the bathroom in the tub or something like that. The cameras would have been there to see that all and that never happened."
After Gizelle got her apology from Karen, Karen expected Gizelle to -- to borrow a term from Karen herself -- return serve. Karen claims her children were upset by a comment Gizelle made more than four years ago on the show, after an interaction with Karen's husband Ray. Karen believes Gizelle wished Ray dead, when in reality, she made a joke about her good looks lasting longer than his life. Instead of saying sorry, Gizelle told Karen she could have been more careful with her words, which seemed good enough for the Grande Dame. It's still unclear why she felt the need to bring up the years-old, off-handed comment this season, but Gizelle has her theories.
"Let's be clear: Karen knew it when she was saying it that I never said that," Gizelle declares. "She just said that because she had nothing else. You know, she wanted to pull something, 'Oh, Gizelle's done this wrong, Gizelle's done that wrong...' to make herself look better with all of the nonsense that she's done wrong, and it was just stupid. Dumb."
"She knew that she was horribly wrong with the reunion and all that, and with other things that she's done, and she needed something to be like, 'Oh, well Gizelle has done this,'" she reiterates. "She should have pulled something else. She should have gone to the T-shirt. "
The T-shirt is a reference to the ensemble Gizelle wore to Karen's infamous "press conference with no press" in season 3, at which Karen called the women together to (kind of) answer questions about her and Ray's financial situation. At the end of Karen's speech, Gizelle got up and removed her jacket to reveal phrases like #FreeKaren, #FreeUncleBen and #TaxReform emblazoned on her tee.
"It makes you feel like, 'Karen, girl, you've been drinking and you came up with this while you was drinking,'" Gizelle remarks of her co-star's choice to repeatedly bring up the joke she made about Ray vs. a multitude of other material the Bravo's Chat Room co-host has given her over the years.
With the truce in place, Gizelle opted not to make good on a threat she made in the season 6 premiere: that she would expose secrets she claimed to know about Karen over the course of filming.
"I've decided to be an adult and I decided that some things don't need to be on camera," Gizelle says. "This is some tea -- which I probably shouldn't spill -- in the middle of the season, some of the producers was like, 'Gizelle, remember you said you was going to drop some tea?' I was like, 'I know. I have decided that I'm not going to do that. I'm going to be...' Some things we don't need for the show. We've got enough drama, we've got enough foolishness and nonsense. We don't need it."
Now, Gizelle does caveat this by saying she "never says never in the world of reality TV," but she has no current plans to drop any bombs about Karen. Wendy Osefo might be a different story. The season 5 newcomer is Gizelle's other sparring partner in season 6, with more battles to come -- even though Gizelle thought they had squashed their beef at the Goddess event, as well. In the mid-season trailer, there's a clip of Wendy and Robyn Dixon getting into it at a launch party for Gizelle and Robyn's Reasonably Shady podcast.
"I thought we was done," Gizelle says. "So then, we get to Reasonably Shady [launch], and it's very much shady. There was no reasonable at this party. And she came in clearly not wanting to be there. And so, like, you should stay home!"
Gizelle and Wendy have been at extreme odds since the cast's trip to Williamsburg, Virginia, where Ashley approached Wendy about rumors circulating in "the blogs" about Wendy's husband, Eddie, allegedly fathering a child with another woman. Wendy and Eddie have denied the allegation, and her co-stars -- Gizelle included -- have all said they don't believe it. Still, Wendy is upset the conversation was brought in front of cameras at all, which comes as a big surprise to Gizelle. While Wendy denies that she and Gizelle spoke about the reports ahead of shooting season 6, Gizelle maintains that a phone call did occur, and claims Wendy spoke about it all with Robyn, as well, in the lead-up to filming.
"I don't know why she denies that. That's just the stupidest thing ever," Gizelle scoffs. "Absolutely, we talked about everything that had been said about her on social media. It was a rushed conversation -- we didn't talk long -- we went through everything, because there's a couple of other things that were said, and we talked about all those things. It was rushed, and she had no reaction. She did not get upset in any way. It was like, 'Of course, I can talk about this with her on camera because she didn't react off camera!' Her reaction in Williamsburg was really, really shocking and left-field."
After Ashley mentioned the blogs about Eddie in a one-on-one chat with Wendy, on camera in Williamsburg, Wendy stormed off, back to the rest of the group and exploded on Gizelle. The Johns Hopkins professor launched in a minutes-long diatribe about Gizelle, saying in part, "I'm putting your a** on notice, because what you're not gonna do -- let's be clear -- is you're not going to play with my husband's name. Don't f**k with my family. ... You'll get your a** whooped."
She went on to say Gizelle lacked "dignity" because she had conversations behind Wendy's back about her marriage, rather than speaking to Wendy directly. She also told the group, "She doesn't understand the parameters regarding people's husbands, because she doesn't have a relationship that holds water."
Gizelle says she's unfazed, but also tired of, the constant use of her ex-husband and his alleged dalliances as the go-to attack against her. "It's like a broken record. It's just over and over again," she says. "It's just like, OK, ladies, let's talk about something else."
"I see you for everything everyone ever said that you were," Wendy went on to tell Gizelle. "The life you’re living now is exactly God paying you back or all the bulls**t you’ve done. So, live in your motherf**king truth, because God is paying your a** back."
"It's just so second season TV rehearsed and it's, come on, girl," Gizelle says of Wendy's reads. "This is Wendy at home every day, practicing in the mirror..." she adds, picking up a lip gloss and pretending it's a microphone.
"You clearly, A) never liked me, ever. These came out real fast, and real rehearsed," she says of the word vomit in Williamsburg. "You've been practicing, waiting for a moment for you to be able to act like I've done something to you, so that you could say these things. That's clear to anyone who's ever watched television. That's really disturbing, disappointing. Shame on me because I really thought we were friends, and that's not how friends act to each other, at all."
Gizelle maintains that her intentions regarding Wendy and the Eddie rumors were pure, or at least as pure as things can be on reality TV. She brought them up, she says, out of a real concern for her co-star.
"I brought it up because I knew that Wendy was struggling with the social media fodder of it all, which is something that we all go through in our own way at some point," she shares. "The vets, the OGs, we've been over it. We could care a less what y'all got to say out in the Twitter world. Wendy was struggling with it. That was the reason for me to bring it up to say, 'Hey, these things are out there. I don't believe that they're true. Are you OK with having to deal with that?' I'm a great person to have conversation like that with, and so it's Ashley. That's all it was."
Gizelle says the first time she mentioned what are now known as "the Eddie rumors" on camera, that was the conversation she had with Ashley: to create a safe space for Wendy to speak about the pain reports like that can cause. Unfortunately, the moment was only briefly used in the trailer, not shown in full in the episode. That gave Wendy a bit more ammo behind her belief that this was a premeditated attack on her by Gizelle, even tweeting that she found it odd that Gizelle would bring this up repeatedly while filming, but never to Wendy's face.
"Absolutely not," Gizelle fires back at the thought that she plotted to go after the political commentator. "I don't even function that way. She sat home for four seasons and was a fan of the show. Did she ever see us sitting around plotting and planning? No, I don't do that. What I do do -- what Gizelle does do -- is if there's something out there, we're going to talk about it. Why aren't we talking about it? We going to talk about it. That's what we do."
"I did nothing wrong," she maintains. "I was not out here being mean and malicious. I did absolutely nothing wrong. Why wouldn't we talk about it? We've talked about Michael Darby, Ray Huger. We've talked about Jamal Bryant, we've talked about Juan Dixon. Why wouldn't we talk about it?"
Gizelle says she never had the opportunity to have a one-on-one moment with Wendy before her blow-up in Williamsburg, and Gizelle blames that on Wendy.
"When I did see you in a space where I could pull you to the side, i.e., Williamsburg, she didn't act like she wanted me around. I was like, 'Girl, bye,'" she notes. "I am going to say that it was very calculated that she was always with Karen, having nothing to do with me, right? That was what she wanted. She wanted to be with Karen, filming with Karen. I think that she was cool, in the beginning of the season, she was cool with me and Robyn. She was cool with that side. And so she was trying to make an effort to be good with Karen. So her only request -- because we do have production requests -- was to film with Karen. I know that."
Gizelle's of the mind that Wendy turned on her to win Karen over, which is what inspired her read-a-thon at Gizelle in Williamsburg. To that, Gizelle says, "You're welcome."
"I have told her and I will tell her again," she quips. "Girl, you're welcome, because if it wasn't for me, who would you be? You're welcome. OK? If it wasn't for me, all she had was a one-wick candle, and don't nobody care about that!"
Wendy wasn't only upset by the conversation surrounding her marriage, but also by the one centered on her body and the way she presented herself. Between season 5 and 6, Wendy underwent what she calls a "mommy makeover," getting new breasts, a new butt and possibly some other unnamed tweaks. Some of the women have speculated that Wendy got plastic surgery in order to signal to the world that there was no trouble in paradise, which reads as faulty logic at best. Wendy has said she always planned to upgrade herself after she finished having children. Gizelle says that might be true, but she's more inclined to think Wendy went under the knife because of the criticism thrown her way during season 5 -- which only adds weight to Gizelle's claim that Wendy did not handle social media commentary about herself well.
"I believe that she looked at her body on camera and was like, 'Whoa, I need to fix it,' because it looked crazy, OK?" Gizelle remarks. "Now, I'm not mad at you that you fixed your body. It needed to be fixed. Girl, I'm happy you got that done."
"That has nothing to do with how she has changed, how she acts towards people and that has been always what I've talked about," Gizelle adds, addressing the group-think at play that the Wendy the women are interacting with in season 6 is nothing like the Wendy they met in season 5. The conversation is a little muddied in that the women are equating Wendy's physical change to the changes they're noticing in her personality, but Gizelle says those are two independent trains of thought.
"Like, the way that she treated Mia was horrible, the way that she's just so rehearsed is ridiculous," Gizelle explains, making mention of the "Zen Wen" altercation between Wendy and Mia earlier in the season at a spa day meant to celebrate Ashley's pregnancy. Wendy got heated with Mia as part of a discussion surrounding Mia's flip-flopping tendencies (in regards to Gizelle, in particular), and spouted off, "I am Zen Wen! So, do not try to come for me, because what I do have -- and what I will always have -- is time. Tick tock, Mia!"
"Those kinds of things just made me feel like, 'Well, dang! This is a whole 'nother person than the person I met last year and I don't like this person. This person is weird,'" Gizelle says. "I preferred somebody who was a little bit more able to have just a normal conversation. I don't want to feel like this is an interview, or this is a debate or this is rehearsed lines that you're spewing. All of that is very weird to me."
"And who's walking around giving names to themselves?" she asks. Gizelle says she's not sure she's ever experienced the "authentic" Wendy. In an interview with ET last week, Wendy proclaimed she "can't wait" to confront Gizelle about all of their various issues at the soon-to-tape season 6 reunion special.
"Girl, fine," Gizelle says in response to Wendy's hyped up attitude headed into reunion. "Great. I don't care. What's so funny is people are like, 'Oh my gosh, you have to confront Gizelle!' People say that as if that's a big thing, as if I care. Everyone knows, I don't care at all. Say what you got to say. Wendy has very much disappointed me, as it relates to how she's acting even after she has seen the episodes. You've seen the episodes, you've seen nobody is trashing your husband, and you're still acting like an enraged idiot. It's just extremely disappointing to see that. 'Oh my gosh, you have to confront Gizelle.' Girl, call me tomorrow. I don't care."
Gizelle says there's been no communication either way between she and Wendy as the season's aired, which is fine by her.
"It's good TV, chile," she cracks. "I ain't going to say nothing."
There's a lot more good TV to come in season 6, which is just about halfway through airing. The star of the midseason trailer was Mia's husband, Gordon "G" Thornton, who appeared in a montage making a series of questionable comments to some of the women, all on the group's next cast trip.
"Do you remember somebody by the name of Michael Darby?" Gizelle asks. "He puts Michael Darby to shame."
That's quite the loaded tease, seeing as Michael -- Ashley's husband -- has found himself in more Real Housewives drama than quite possibly any other Househusband in all the cities combined.
"Gordon comes in hot, like fire-hot," Gizelle says. "We won't see that until our next trip, which by the way was the worst Real Housewives of Potomac trip we've ever taken, from food to accommodations to smells. ... Everything. It was just horrible."
It should be no surprise that Gizelle feels that way, though, seeing as Wendy was the host of said getaway.
After the trip comes Karen and Ray's vow renewal, which was heavily featured in the "still to come" first look, thanks in part to a confrontation between Michael and Candiace Dillard Bassett's husband, Chris. The two ended season 5 with a near-brawl at Robyn and Juan's engagement party, and it seems this wedding is the sequel to that. Fans can thank Gizelle -- and Juan -- for the moment.
"I don't know whether they're going to show this, but .... they weren't at the same table," she reveals. "And I had talked to Juan and Juan was like, 'No, we got to make sure these guys hash it out.' So I was like, OK, let me change about four people, and I switched [name cards], everybody got mad at me, but I didn't care. It was about making sure that they had a moment."
It's moment-making like that, though, that has led to RHOP's success. In its sixth season, the show is must-see TV and bringing in series-high ratings numbers, a feat that is not lost on Gizelle and her co-stars, especially with rapper Nicki Minaj joining the online conversation this season, proclaiming her plans to take over reunion hosting duties from Andy Cohen. That might not happen, though, thanks to Nicki going public as a semi-skeptic of COVID-19 vaccinations.
"I was like, holy s**t! She can't come to the reunion and she's not vaccinated," Gizelle says of the revelation, which poured out on Twitter this week. "So then I started texting people this morning, like, how do we get this done? Because, we need to get this done, OK? Somebody shoot Nicki with a vaccination, please!"
"I just want to kiki," she cracks. "Nicki is fun, funny -- she's shady. She's my kind of girl."
And if the questions Nicki says she has ready for the ladies have anything to do with Gizelle's fashions, she's more than prepared to answer. The star's ensembles are constantly criticized by viewers and co-stars alike.
"To know me is to know that what I put on my body is what I want to wear. The end," Gizelle declares. "I think it's funny because I know it's all Karen-driven and I'm like, so you can't talk about that nothing else? OK. Yeah. I totally stand by everything that I wear. Have there been some moments that I'm like, 'Oh, that looked a mess?' Probably, I can't think of one right now, probably, for sure."
"And get to my age and look like this," the 51-year-old adds. "Then talk to me, OK?!"
The Real Housewives of Potomac airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo.