Why Monique Samuels Credits 'RHOP' With Saving Her Marriage But Will Never Go Back to Bravo (Exclusive)
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Monique Samuels is wrapping up her reality TV "redo." After four seasons on The Real Housewives of Potomac, Monique walked away from the show, took a brief break and then returned to television with OWN's Love & Marriage: DC. That series wraps up its freshman run on Saturday, with the debut of part 2 of the season 1 reunion.
"The overall experience was great," Monique reflects, speaking with ET over video chat from her home. "Filming the show, there wasn't anything that was contrived. Production, they just were a fly on the wall. That was very nice. I don't think there will ever be a moment in reality TV where a person on reality TV does not always love their edit. We all complain about it. We all have our moments where it's just like, 'Ah! Ah!' But overall I do believe that this was a much better experience for me. I did enjoy it."
Monique recently faced some online criticism, after a clip from an interview she did with The Jasmine Brand cycled around Instagram fan pages. In that chat, Monique said "absolutely not" when asked if she felt fairly edited on Love & Marriage. Bravo watchers were quick to note that Monique had similar complaints about her time on RHOP, but Monique clarifies the difference.
"I said, I wish there was more context," she explains to ET, sharing that she would've liked for season 1 to feature more episodes to better establish certain stories that played out on screen.
"The question was asked, did I feel as though I was edited fairly? And I said, no, because I felt like there should have been more," she reiterates. "But I also get it. I understand. I get reality TV. So that was all I was saying. Everything that you saw me, my actions were my actions. I'm accountable for my actions. That's not the issue. I just know that if you walk into the tail end of a conversation, you're not going to know the full picture of that conversation because you're walking in at the end."
Monique's final season of Housewives focused heavily on a physical altercation she got into with cast member Candiace Dillard Bassett. Monique's long maintained that she does not feel as if the show properly explained what led them to that moment; she hoped the context would be provided to the audience during RHOP's season 5 reunion, but she claims it was all left on the cutting room floor.
"They tried to paint a picture of my husband and I as if we were just this aggressive couple and they showed him on Instagram going off on the women for telling these lies and plotting and stuff, and that [Instagram] Live was actually a response to a Live that Candace did," she says. "So when they were showing one side of the argument, they even said to me behind the scenes, 'It wouldn't be fair if we didn't show why y'all responded on Instagram, so we're going to show both...'"
"They had everything and they chose to show what they show, and they chose to eliminate what they eliminated," she adds. "And that is when I knew. I said, 'I ain't got a shot in hell.' They're never going to be fair in my direction. It's always going to be about protecting the people on the show that they want to protect. And to me, that was lower than low. So I was like, yeah, this is getting too nasty. And you're coming for my child, you're coming for my husband, you're coming for our family. I was just like, it's going to a place where I never could have imagined it would go. That wasn't the reason why I came to Housewives."
Monique says she actually signed on to return for season 6, but backed out after watching the reunion episodes.
"I said 'yes' with the expectation that everything that they said was going to happen on that three-part reunion was going to happen," she notes. "I was promised that it was going to be shown and it wasn't. So normally they always do that round of calls after the reunion airs, they actually did the round of calls right before the part three, or part two -- it was either part two or part three -- either way, reunion was still airing and they made the calls. So they were trying to get people on board for season six the reunion hadn't even finished airing."
Ultimately, Monique felt like it was a bit of a bait and switch and said goodbye to Bravo. Soon after, though, the network came calling with an offer for Monique to join The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip: Ex-Wives Club, a spinoff series at Peacock that saw eight women from across the franchise spend a week together at The Real Housewives of New York Cityalum Dorinda Medley's Massachusetts estate, largely speaking about their experiences on their respective shows.
"[Housewives executive producer Andy Cohen] called me and he shared with me that he wanted me to be a part of it," Monique recalls. "I think I was the second call after Dorinda. And he said, 'I would love for you to be a part...' and I was just like, 'Eh, I don't know. I don't know.' He was like, 'Don't say no. Don't say anything. Think about it. And let's regroup in a couple days.' And then he called me back and I was like, 'Andy, I can't do it.'"
"It wasn't a Potomac cast situation," she says of walking away from her time as a Housewife. "It was all of it. Production, cast, network -- it was so many things behind the scenes that I felt were unfair to me, and I just couldn't do it. I couldn't. I was just like mentally, I'm not even there. Just knowing that I'm going to be in a situation where I'm almost expected to have these confrontations and arguments with a bunch of women, I'm just not at that place in my life anymore. I don't want that to be the ultimate goal, which is confrontation and all of that. I'd rather deal with real-life stuff, stuff that really is true to who I am. Love & Marriage was perfect for me because I'm in love. I'm in a marriage. So it was like, this I can do."
Monique says she has not watched either season of Ultimate Girls Trip (the Ex-Wives edition filmed before the first season ever aired), but she has no regrets about turning it down -- even if the women get a chance to say their piece on a certain situation.
"It's a trust issue for me at this point," she admits. "I don't trust that they're going to show everything that needs to be shown. Because there was so much that was said and done even in my last season that they just completely removed in order to maintain the narrative they wanted. So once that trust is broken, it's just like, I can fight the cast. I can do that all day. But I can't fight production and the network and that's when I knew it was my time to go. And I was like, I will gracefully bow out and I'm good to go."
And when Monique says go, she means go. There is no "never say never" here when it comes to a return to Bravo.
"It's done," she declares. "Let me make this clear though, because a lot of people, they don't sometimes understand me. I am grateful for the platform. I'm very grateful for what I was able to do with my first go-'round in reality TV. I felt like everything that I anticipated to do, which was to elevate my platform for Not For Lazy Moms, I was able to do so much during my time. I was adamant about using my time wisely and I'm grateful because they gave me a great head start. So I would never put them down for that. It's just going forward, that chapter's done and it's just no turning back. I'm a Libra to the core. I'm a triple Libra. So once the door is closed, it's closed."
Obviously, Monique has not held back from sharing her unfiltered thoughts on "that other show," but she says she's gotten no feedback from her former co-stars nor the network about anything she's put out in the press since her exit.
"I try to be diplomatic in my approach to giving my story," she says. "I'm not trying to dog anybody out. I'm just telling my story. And if me telling my story is a negative reflection on them, that's not my fault. But no, I still maintain communication with Karen [Huger] and Ashley [Darby]. I still talk to Andy. So there's not been any conversation about that at all."
While headlines seem to pick out and focus on the negative things Monique shares about her time as a Real Housewife, there's plenty of positive to be discussed, too. She actually credits the show with saving her marriage to former NFL star Chris Samuels.
"People always say that reality TV tears your marriage down. What people don't realize is that Real Housewives of Potomac actually in some ways saved my marriage," she shares. "Chris and I, before we started filming that show, we were in a really rough place."
"We had lost all of the dating in our marriage," she continues. "Once we started filming reality TV, it actually helped us because it forced us to date. So we were able to get out, just reignite that intimacy and be excited about each other. So I will not lie, season two RHOP saved my marriage. And at the end of the day, sometimes you still have to come back to those moments. Because some of the things that I expressed on Love & Marriage: DC, people who watched Potomac saw I had those same concerns back then. So it's not like this is something new."
Love & Marriage: DC's debut season's documented the growing pains Monique and Chris are facing in their 10-year marriage, largely focused on the lack of intimacy in their relationship as they juggle careers and parenting their three kids, Christopher, Milani and Chase. In one episode, Monique confessed to Chris that she wishes they'd never gotten married because the paperwork seemed to zap the spark out of their romance, a comment that deeply offended him.
"He knows what I meant by that," Monique offers in her defense. "Chris was way more emotionally open, vulnerable, even more protective over me when we were dating. And Chris was always a person that said he would never get married. When we were dating, he advocated against marriage. When we got married, I feel like it kind of put him in this different space where he was trying to prove to be the macho man and he doesn't want to let his wife see things that he's struggling with, because then maybe he feels as though that would change how he looked as a husband."
"It's been so off balance for so long that it's like, I don't want us to be stuck in the 'friend zone,'" she adds. "It's like sometimes I feel like I'm stuck in a friendship zone in my own marriage because it's, like, our friendship is always intact. But the intimacy, the vulnerability is where we struggle because it's almost like he doesn't want me to see him in his vulnerable moments."
Monique says filming Love & Marriage has helped move the needle a bit on this issue, but Chris is still not where she needs to be for her.
"He's trying," she says. "Has the growth been where I would love for it to be? No. We actually just had a talk over the weekend. It's a process. Marriage, it's a lot of things. People always say, 'Oh, marriage is work,' but they never tell you how much work and what kind of work. And at the end of the day, you have to see yourself and you have to know what you need to work on, and you have to want to make those changes and grow individually."
Monique's candidness when it comes to her frustrations with Chris sparked some chatter online that she only signed on to film Love & Marriage in order to set herself up for a TV future (and income) with plans to divorce Chris. It's something executive producer Carlos King brought up on part 1 of the reunion, which shocked the Samuels. Monique says they have no plans to part ways.
"I don't really pay attention to what people say or believe because at the end of the day, they don't know the full story," she says. "They're only judging and making comments based off of what they saw on the show. So if I'm watching like a viewer, I would have the same comments."
"My biggest lesson from just filming, from watching the show and everything else, my whole motto lately has been, the death of the ego," Monique admits. "A lot of times people will do things based off of what other people think they should do, or whatever response that they want to get from other people. And at the end of the day, what difference does it make what I choose to do in my life? Because your thoughts and opinions are not going to affect me. It's not going to wake me up in the morning. It's not going to put me to bed at night. It's not going to keep my marriage. It's not going to raise my children. Only I can do that. So it really helps you put things into perspective. And it really brings me back to the whole thought process of this TV show is entertainment. I know the ins and outs of my marriage, of my home. And I know that every decision that I make is going to be for the betterment of myself and my family, so to each its own."
While the comments section online might be full of haters, Monique says in-person interactions with viewers have been encouraging.
"I had a woman actually, [my co-star] Ashley Silva had an event over the weekend called MOMCHELLA through her Fun Time Moms platform, and there was two ladies that came up to me and they said, every time Chris and I had a scene that they watched, they pulled their husband in the room and it turned into marriage counseling for them," she shares. "To hear that, makes it all worth it. It really touched my heart because I truly believe people will watch a show based off of their own experience. So what I was able to show was not meant for everybody, it was meant for the people who are sharing the experience that I'm sharing with them. So it always works out."
"When [Chris] signed up for the show, I don't think he fully realized the commitment that he was making," she adds. "I think he thought it was going to be similar to when I was on Housewives, because he didn't have to film. It was just like, all right, you want to? All right, cool. But he's an actual cast member on this show, so he's required to do his part. So I think that was new for him, so we'll see what happens season 2."
While OWN has yet to renew Love & Marriage: DC for a second season, it seems likely to happen. But first, viewers will need to tune in for part 2 of the season 1 reunion, which puts controversial cast member Winter Williams in the hot seat.
"I need to see what happens with this second part of the reunion," Monique teases. "But my whole thing is this, there's a fine line when you're doing reality TV. It's fine if you have the misunderstandings and all of that, but there has to be resolution. And it's like this back and forth is just going on way too long. And I think the thing is, Winter actually mentioned in one of her lives that she's playing a character, and she said that when she's not filming, she's back to her normal self. Well, the normal self is who I wanted on the show. She's the person that I wanted to tell her amazing story."
"I didn't want her to be a character, I wanted us to be real," she says. "Let's tell who we really are and just be us. And I think that's where things kind of got a little confusing for me because I've never seen this side of her, like ever. And that's what I would hope and also resolution."
As for the future of the rest of the cast, Monique would like to see everyone return -- plus a new couple!
"I don't want to be the one to bring another couple. I feel like the Silvas or the Tylers should bring another couple," she clarifies. "It would be nice if it's a couple that is newly married or about to be married, maybe approaching that point of wanting children. Somebody that's fresh and new because Chris and I are the babies on the show. Is that crazy? We've been married 10 years and we're the babies on the show. So it'd be nice to have a newer couple. Because, you know how it is when you're new and fresh in love, it kind of takes you back and reminds you of how things were when you first got married, things that you might have forgot about. And I think it has a way of just bringing just a newness to the whole cast. Being that the Tylers are 26 years, the Silvas are 13 years, we're 10 years, so I think that would be ideal."
"So anybody in the DC area, if you fit that description, please hop into my DMS!"
Part 2 of the Love & Marriage: DC season 1 reunion airs Saturday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on OWN.
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