Wendy Osefo is back with a new book and a new season of 'The Real Housewives of Potomac.'
"This book is the why," the Johns Hopkins University professor explains to ET, holding up her new memoir, Tears of My Mother: The Legacy of My Nigerian Upbringing.
"What I learned through this process is, a lot of things that we do -- the ways in which we view life, even our mannerisms or how we view love and loss -- come from where we come from," she reflects, "and this story just starts to peel off some of those layers."
The autobiography digs into all the untold parts of Wendy's story, coming to America as a toddler, raised by a single mom (Susan) who both embraced and bucked tradition from their African roots.
"I think that Potomac is an amazing show, but because of the interest of time, you have seven women on an ensemble cast, and you can't really get very deep into who we are," Wendy says of her reasoning for writing her story. "This book is the why. This is why I'm OK when relationships go awry, because in the book you'll see, I almost went to a different school almost every year of my life. When a child experiences that, they're able to detach from people in a way that most of us can't. And so if you see me get into it with my cast members, and you're like, 'Wait... but they used to be friends. Why is she OK just not mending it?' Or, 'Why is she OK leaving it as it is?' Because that's the history of my life. I have had to be OK building new friendships, but also OK letting go of friendships."
Tears of My Mother fills in the gaps of what RHOP fans don't know about Wendy: as she notes, she moved almost every year of her childhood. She grew up largely without her father, whom she hasn't kept in touch with in her adult years. She struggled with self-acceptance, walking through adolescence envying Eurocentric features before she ultimately embraced her own beauty.
"I am so deeply honored to be, for lack of a better word," she admits when prompted about being the woman she wishes she'd been able to watch on TV as a young, dark-skinned girl obsessed with entertainment.
"To see dark-skinned women on TV is something that was a complete rarity when I was growing up," she explains. "So for me, now that I have the opportunity to be on this amazing platform and represent a dark-skin woman in a dark-skinned family, that's something I do not take for granted."
"I'm glad that I can see a woman that looks like me on TV, and she doesn't necessarily represent 'the struggle,'" she adds. "There's power in that, and there's beauty in that. And for me, I stand in that with pride, but also as a mother who has a dark-skinned daughter, yeah, that's something that I will forever hold in my heart that she can see that imagery on television."
Wendy touches on colorism in Tears of My Mother, a conversation that presents itself within the fandom whenever Potomac is airing.
"Colorism is something that's so deeply embedded within the Western society that we can't even begin to untangle it," Wendy says. "For example, if you tell a lie and someone says, 'Well, it was a white lie...' well, white means it's not as harsh, right? Black is often associated with darkness. White is purity. And so just that simple definition, well, if you have someone who is dark and someone whose skin is light, then don't they represent the same things as those definitions? And it's oftentimes not seen in society because we often have movies that are all white, or we have movies that are all Black. So those conversations don't happen."
"But Potomac happens to be a cast where you have women who are fairly light, and then you have people who are dark," she continues. "When you have that, then people have to understand, whether they know it or not, colorism will be in play because colorism by sheer definition is not just light skin and dark skin. It's about one's proximity to whiteness. So for the mere fact that my proximity to whiteness is further removed than other people on the cast, then colorism will always be at play. And people just have to know that."
Wendy and her castmate, Candiace Dillard-Bassett, have both spoken out on social media about the colorism double standard within their group; the topic came up again when the trailer for season 7 premiered earlier this month, which features Mia Thornton, a lighter-skinned woman, throwing a martini at Wendy.
"Why is it OK for one person to do something, and when they do it, you say, 'I love it when they clock in. I love it when they're being messy,' but if someone else does it, they say, 'Oh, she's insufferable. She should be fired?'" Wendy asks. "Aren't they both clocking in? Aren't we both giving you guys great television? So why is one person fine and celebrated and just being messy and the other person is insufferable and thirsty?"
As for that drink toss in particular, Wendy calls Mia's actions "completely unwarranted."
"That action did not equate what was going on," Wendy teases, "and the clear indicator of that is if you watch the trailer again, look at Karen [Huger], who's in the middle. You know Mrs. Huger is not for no mess. If there was anything going on, Karen would've excused herself. But there wasn't. And so when you guys see that, you guys are going to gasp, because it wasn't expected, nor was it warranted. It came completely out of left field. It was almost as if it was like she read the Housewives manual and wanted to have a Housewives moment and did it. But if you pay attention as you're watching it, you're going to be like, 'Girl... why did you do that?!'"
Season 7 is Mia's sophomore season, a year proven to make or break Housewives. The trailer previews more unexpected activity from the chiropractic entrepreneur, as she faces questions about potentially lying about a cancer diagnosis online.
"Whatever she came for, I hope she achieved it because there were lots of raised eyebrows," Wendy reviews Mia's performance. "Not just in that [drink-toss] moment, but throughout the season."
The drink-toss snippet in the trailer features Wendy calling Mia a "crater-faced b***h," an insult she's not taking back.
"I wish I would've said it louder," she cracks. "I mean, I'm right there. You can do whatever you want with all the other stuff. But when you're in person, you see everything."
It might be safe to assume that Mia didn't receive an advanced copy of Tears of My Mother. Wendy plays coy when asked who from her cast did and did not receive a PR package.
"Who is not on the PR list? The people who didn't need to be on the PR list," she quips, going on to reveal she did not hear congratulations from all of her fellow DMV 'Wives.
"Do these women celebrate you when you're doing amazing things? No, they don't," she deadpans. "But I am OK with that. It just lets me know that I am doing good things. I am booked and busy. Shout out to Candiace, who's coming out with a tour. I celebrate women when they are chasing their dreams and they're doing other things besides just sitting on the couch. So it's OK if they don't celebrate me, I'm OK with that!"
If that snappy shade is any indicator, RHOP fans are in for quite a treat this season.
"It's the best one yet!" she exclaims. "As a professor, I always tell my students, 'You can't make statements without substantiating it with a fact.' Well, this is the fact. This is the one season where everybody shows up. Everyone."
That includes The Real Housewives of Atlanta alum Cynthia Bailey's ex-husband, Peter Thomas (whose sometimes messy history Wendy admits she was unaware of), and OG Housewife Charrisse Jackson-Jordan, who makes a surprise return to the series as a "friend of" the cast. It was Wendy's first time filming with Charrisse, who largely connected the original group.
"I like Charrisse and I think that her presence-- whenever someone comes in, it always shakes the equilibrium, which is good, and that's what Charrisse does this season," Wendy previews. "She makes it so there's always a wild card. And she really came in and she shook the room."
The room largely seemed to shake in Karen's direction, with the sneak peek at the season promising an explosive moment between the Grande Dame of Potomac and "Cha Cha," as Charrisse calls herself.
"I was just like, 'What is happening?'" Wendy recalls. "I've never seen Karen like that. Ever. Ever. It was wild. It was a wild season. It was."
"This season, you guys have to really pay attention from the beginning to the end because where we start is not where we end," she goes on to share. "Say that in both a good way and a bad way. I think someone definitely shows the viewers a masterclass of betrayal. You guys will watch literally, a relationship is just like, 'What are you doing here?' And then another thing this season, is the different dynamics change."
"I think that for Potomac, what makes us really strong, is that the core of us, we genuinely enjoy each other," Wendy muses. "But this season, you'll see a lot of moving pieces and musical chairs as far as who's with who and who's not with who, and I think that that will excite viewers, because it's not the same old, same old. You're going to see different dynamics. You guys may be like, 'I like them together.' Or you might be like, 'I hate them together.'"
It would be wildly unexpected to see Wendy and Gizelle Bryant team up after their intense fallout in season 6 over rumors of Wendy's husband, Eddie, being unfaithful. The two were unable to come to any resolution at the last reunion (even with the help of super-fan Nicki Minaj), leading to a cold-shoulder moment seen in the supertease: Gizelle refusing a hug from Wendy.
"Life is good," Wendy proclaims when that interaction comes up. "I'm like, 'I have a book coming out. My Onyi candles are selling. I'm about to celebrate 12 years of marriage. Like, Hey girl.' It was just one of those moments, literally. And when I hit her with that, the cold shoulder was like, 'Oh, you're still stuck in the past. I shall move on.' And it was really one of those."
The non-hug plays as a perfect example of something Wendy discusses in her book: she has an uncanny ability to move on, leaving certain parts of the past unfinished, because she's had to leave chapters of her life early her entire existence.
"I was like, 'We've had the reunion. You've said your piece, I've said mine. We can agree to disagree,' but we still have friends within the circle," she notes. "We're going to be around each other. And I'm one of those people, I always want to be cordial, always want to be considerate. And so that was the energy I was entering that space with like, 'Oh, I'm not here to argue with you. I've moved on from that.' But she was stuck in the past and you guys will see, she continues to be stuck in the past."
While Wendy doesn't choose to live in her past, writing Tears of My Mother (the process of which RHOP cameras documented) proved healing for the political pundit.
"This book was really cathartic for me," she says, "and I have never been to therapy -- even though that's something I want to do -- I have now delved down the hole of seeing a life coach, which I think has helped me as far as my career and balancing. But why I say specifically it's helped me understand [my mom] better is because, I really start processing why she does the things she does and what she's experienced during her life and why someone being an immigrant in a country that's foreign to them, having the burden -- lack of a better word -- of raising her two children in the face of all odds would be the woman she is."
Wendy didn't exactly set out to write a book about her mom, but the more she put her story to paper, the more she realized her story was her mom's story.
"I hope in turn by reading this book, my mom will understand me better," Wendy confesses, having written in the book how she feels as if she and Susan have never understood one another. That said, Wendy did not offer her mother a sneak peek at the book.
"I think that for her, she is going to be very surprised at the ways in which I process things that she does and things that she says," Wendy shares, "because even though I think I'm an emotional person, when I react to her, sometimes I'm a little bit stoic, because I'm one of those people, if I tap into my emotions, I will be on the floor, balled up, crying. So I try not to go there. And I think for her, she may really be like, 'I never knew you felt that way. And hopefully I'm sorry you felt that way.'"
"I learned that I'm a lot like my mom," she adds. "You have someone who's basically writing a book and has mommy issues, right? ... And I think that that's the biggest take takeaway for me as a writer of the book, and for me as a parent and for me as a human being, I think that that's where the disconnect comes is, we all are going to live in different worlds from the generation after us. And it's incumbent upon us to try to make a transition."
The memoir also opens up wounds on Eddie's side of the family, with Wendy going into detail about why his parents and siblings largely shunned them once they got married.
"I go into deep detail about feeling that, with every fairytale, you have a villain," she says, "but that doesn't take away from the fact that it's still a fairy tale. And just putting that on paper and understanding that, while there was discord with Eddie and I and the family, when it was time for us to get married, we came out victorious. And here I am standing 12 years later after being married, and it's like, yes, that time period was so hurtful. But look at you guys. Look at you. You made it. And here you are with three kids. And that chapter, man, when I tell you that was a woo chapter, it really was."
"And spoiler alert a little bit, this season on Potomac, you guys really get an extra layer on that whole chapter of our lives and where we are with Eddie and his family," she offers. "So just filming that while writing it at the same time was just so emotional for me. But it was definitely a chapter that I was so happy when I put the period at the end of it. And I was like, and we're done here."
As Wendy puts it, "it's so weird how everything happens in God's time."
"For everything to happen when the cameras were rolling, it's just like, I'm sure the producers are like, 'Perfect!' But it just all literally happened like a domino effect," she says of her growth in writing the book while filming RHOP.
"I think that that's a beauty for my personal story this season is you guys see downs, but you guys go with me on a journey, and it ends up," she shares. "But you guys really see downs. In the trailer, you guys see me on a stretcher. You guys will really see me in a way this season that I think people may not expect of me."
The Real Housewives of Potomac season 7 premieres Sunday, Oct. 9, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo. Tears of My Mother: The Legacy of My Nigerian Upbringing is available now, wherever books are sold.