The Real Housewives of Potomac's Monique Samuels on fight with Candiace: ‘I'm no one’s stereotype’
The RHOP star speaks out on remorse, reunions, and T'Challa.
This Sunday’s episode of The Real Housewives of Potomac took a different shape than most installments of the hit reality franchise: Almost the entire hour was devoted to a single meeting, for which all the ladies (except Candiace Dillard Bassett) gathered at Karen Huger’s home in the aftermath of Monique Samuels’ altercation with Bassett at a winery in the previous episode.
After the episode aired, Samuels appeared on Bravo’s late-night talk show Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, where she confirmed that she was in fact asleep when Bassett left her lake house and claimed that her deciding to reach out and apologize coincided with Bassett pressing charges.
The Not for Lazy Moms founder — whose podcast launched its third season on Tuesday, and whose book Potty Training “Mommy and Daddy,” the first release from Not For Lazy Mom’s publishing side, came out this summer — spoke with EW following Sunday’s dramatic episode.
Entertainment Weekly: What has it been like to watch all of these episodes back, almost a year later?
MONIQUE SAMUELS: I mean, it's been a little bit of stress coupled with a little bit of hope and relief. Starting out, you never know how the story is going to be put together and told, you know? So once you're watching it unfold, you're just like a viewer… but then you realize, like, wow, this is me! [Laughs] But you just kind of start to process it and deal with it the best way you can. And knowing the end of the road and how I ended this entire chapter within the season keeps me hopeful because I know that it's literally a journey. Every week, the viewers are going to see a new piece unfold and if they can just be patient enough, once we get to the end, they'll just see a whole total transformation, they'll see growth, they'll see acceptance and acknowledgment.
The meeting in Sunday’s episode was just a few days after the fight — you said your adrenaline was still pumping. How have your feelings changed over the past year as you’ve gotten more distance from the incident?
Yeah. When I said that my adrenaline was still pumping, that was absolutely real. It was like over a week before I could actually really deal with what happened. I didn't know how to feel, even after the fight. The next day, I'm back in mommy mode, [then] that night I had an appearance with DSW with Robyn. The next day after that I had 20 family members fly in town [and] I’m hosting all weekend. That Monday, I'm doing the all-cast photoshoot for Bravo, and then Tuesday is what you witnessed on the episode.
So there was never a moment where I could really sit back and just process it, take it in and really feel all of the weight of everything that had gone on. And a few days after that is when it finally just hit me and I really started to feel all those emotions and really deal with it. I felt very remorseful. I felt very sorry for how things transpired. And then you'll see in the coming episodes that journey of just coming to terms with everything that I felt.
At the end of the episode, you told the ladies to feel free not to invite you to things, and you didn’t appear very much in the teaser for the rest of the season. Did you separate from the group at all as the season continued?
I definitely separated, and I told them, even in the episode you saw, this is bigger than this TV show. I really wanted to just take a step back and reevaluate everything and remember, like, who I am as a person, and not be judged by who other people think I am because of one moment in time. I was very honest about the fact that I wanted to take a break from everyone and just focus on me and my family and just try to figure out what my triggers are so that something like that would never happen again. So I had no desire to be around the ladies. At the point where I did feel comfortable enough to talk to some of the women, I was able to reach out to them and just kind of check in. You'll see as the episodes go by how receptive or not-receptive they were.
Speaking of some of them not being receptive, Gizelle came to Karen’s seemingly with her mind made up and brought up past events like the umbrella incident (as well as bringing security). Did that surprise you from her?
I wasn't surprised by Gizelle at all. That’s how she is. She's a hypocrite. So, not surprising. I was actually more surprised by Robyn and Wendy because it seemed that all of them came in with their mind already made up. I literally said, "There's no excuse for my actions." I'm owning it and they still didn't want to hear it. So it's almost as if they had their own meeting, which — when I watched [Sunday’s] episode, I saw that Candiace actually said to Karen on the phone that she had already spoken with all of the women. So when I saw that in the episode, I was like, "Oh, now it really makes sense." They already had their little off-camera meetings and they discussed whatever they discussed. And it seems like they came up with this whole plan, like, "Oh yeah, we're going to go in on her. And we're going to get her off the show — or at least kick her out the group."
I was [particularly] surprised by Wendy because she had called me the day after the fight. We spoke for about 20 minutes on the phone, and in that conversation, she was more understanding and she was more trying to relate to me in that moment. She started talking about how, when she was in high school, she fought all the time. And she said, "When I looked at you in your eyes, I recognized that, because that was me at one time, and I had been down that road, and I know you got egged on…" She was coming from a place of being more, like, "I relate to you. I'm not saying what you did was okay, but I get it. Because I've been down that road before."
So fast-forward to Tuesday when we sat down as a group and she had completely flipped. Now it makes sense, when I saw that Candiace said she had already spoken with all of the ladies. So clearly, you know, she jumped onto their bandwagon. So I was really surprised at that, but I wasn't there to argue with anybody. I was trying to just like, give my piece, apologize for putting them in a position to be in harm's way, and then let them know here's my plan for moving forward.
[EW reached out to Dr. Osefo's team for comment and was provided with the following statement: “It is clear that Monique Samuels refuses to take ownership of her violent attack against her castmate, Candiace Dillard Bassett. Monique's continuous efforts to deflect attention from her actions is a testament to the magnitude of her heinous assault. I wish her the best on her publicity tour as she attempts to rewrite history."]
One of Wendy’s concerns in the meeting was that an incident like this would perpetuate negative stereotypes about Black women. What is your response to that?
I think people who are so consumed with the idea that here's these stereotypes, and this is what people labeled Black women as — my question to them is always: Who are you putting on a pedestal for you to think that that's okay to say to someone? The only person that I esteem and put on a pedestal is God; the only person that I represent is myself. And at the end of the day, a person who has made a mistake can still be an example. That person can still be a role model because now you're showing people that you're human and here's how you deal with mistakes and things that you may have done that have pushed you to step outside of who you are. Everyone has moments where you kind of fall and then you have to dust yourself off and pick yourself back up.
So if I can be that example for people so that they don't go down the road I went down, and I can show people that, "Hey, all of us have triggers. You better know what your triggers are or you'll end up being like me." If I'm able to help the next person so that they can avoid that confrontation or that argument or that physical altercation, then I'll do that. I'll be that person. So, you know, I just think that that just goes to say that some people definitely like to put themselves on a pedestal as if they could never make a mistake and that's not reasonable. You can never say never unless you're in the situation and have been down that road. And then you live to tell the tale. But I'm no one’s stereotype. And at the end of the day, I'm very proud about who I am as a Black woman. And I think that as Black women, we are very resilient people. So there are all kinds of ethnicities who have these same moments. So if you're not going to define them and their entire group by one of their actions, then don't do it to me.
Karen and Ashley seemed more open to what you had to say. Did you feel supported by them in the aftermath of the fight?
Absolutely. Their response was what I would hope to receive from a friend, which is, "I don't agree with your actions. I'm not proud of that moment, but I'm here for you and I'm here for your journey and I'm here for your growth. And if you need me to lean on, I'm here for you." That's what sisterhood is supposed to be. And I feel as though, in that moment, Karen and Ashley were the true definitions of sisterhood.
How are you feeling about filming the reunion with everyone?
I’m totally looking forward to it. I actually love reunions. It's probably my favorite part about filming because I'm a person who will tell you exactly what's on my mind to your face. I don't have to be a confessional gangsta. I don't have to go into my confessionals and tell all, and then hide it for a year until the show airs and then you find out what I've been saying behind your back. I look forward to the reunion so that I can get a lot of things off my chest — and then also, you know, hear what everyone else has to say straight to my face versus behind my back.
Having detached from the group as this season continued, would you want to, or do you plan to, return to the show in the future?
I mean, as far as now, of course, as long as Bravo keeps me, I have no reason to go! So we’ve just kind of got to take it day by day and see what the future holds. But I am still currently employed by Bravo. [Laughs] So I’ll do my part and do my best to move forward.
How is Bravo icon T’Challa doing?
He’s amazing. T’Challa is the best. He's so sweet. He is such my little stress reliever. I don't know if you saw that he flew off and he was gone for like 26 hours — I wouldn't be able to watch any episodes right now if he had not come back. He’s hilarious. And those captions that they’ve given him are just, like, giving me life.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
The Real Housewives of Potomac airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Bravo.
The Real Housewives of Potomac