Eboni K. Williams looks back on her historic first season of ‘RHONY’

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Eboni K. Williams didn’t have the easiest first season of Real Housewives, to say the very least, but the TV personality still thinks the experience was worth it.

Williams appears on the latest episode of the In The Know pop culture interview series, We Should Talk, where she looked back on the journey of season 13 of The Real Housewives of New York City, what it was like dealing with the constant barrage of headlines around her, bonding with women of color from other franchises, finding her birth father on the show and much more.

“I am going on record to make a proclamation: For all that’s been said of season 13 — it will live in infamy, I’m sure — I actually think a lot of the aspects of our season will age incredibly well. When we are having this conversation in five, six or seven years, there will be introspection and acknowledgment of some incredible things that happened on our season that people just probably can’t fully appreciate and make space for in real time right now,” Williams told In The Know. “It’s a transition! This is a bridge season. A bridge of any sort is not necessarily the most romantic, glamorized, appreciated thing. But it has a very important purpose. You can’t get from point A to point B without a bridge of some sort. Once a show is on for 16 years, there’s got to be a point of inflection that takes you from the nostalgic era — which is of glory, to be clear! — and get you to what the renaissance can look like.”

Listen to Real Housewives of New York City star Eboni K. Williams’ full episode of We Should Talk below, and keep reading for highlights from the interview:

On when she chooses to respond to negative press or attention from fans: “It’s the loud minority. It’s really easy to have tabloid-y headlines — I get it, it’s Housewives and that’s always going to be part of it. If it bleeds, it leads. If it’s salacious, if it’s negative, if it’s nasty, if it’s spiteful, that’s going to dominate conversation. […] The stuff that I tend to respond to — and this is really from my training as a political operative — it’s very dangerous when you allow actual falsehoods to continue. For instance, when there was an accusation in some rag that I was threatening to sue the network or the production company for the non-renewal of a contract, I had to stop that sh*t in its tracks. Number one, a first-year law student could actually tell you, there’s no legal cause of action for the voluntary non-renewal of an optional agreement. Period, full stop. That’s number one. The implication is really dangerous and toxic, right? There are hundreds of thousands of legitimate lawsuits and legal courses filed in the name of racial discrimination, and the subtext there was that I would be somehow erroneously trying [to deploy] an inaccurate application of it. And that’s so wrong.”

On fans who long for “the good old days” of Housewives: “Listen, as somebody who grew up on RHONY, who grew up actually on Orange County, Atlanta… I understand the seeking of that nostalgia. Not to get overly psychoanalytical, but there is something to the comfort of things that feel historically familiar to us when we are in a current state of crisis. Let’s be very clear: We are in a global and national state of crisis still. So, it actually makes a ton of sense to me and nothing that I at all take personally that people want to go back to Jill Zarin and Ramona and Mario and whatever that hot coach was that Jill had on the tennis court. I get that! What I would implore people to consider, to your point, is those particular days are not coming back. That’s true of RHONY, that’s true of American politics, that’s true of any other cultural idiom. We can’t go recapture what has passed. What we can do, though, is lean into the present nature and interesting realities that are upon us today.”

On having other women of color on Housewives franchises to lean on: “It’s so invaluable because this platform for every Housewife — including white Housewives — can be very lonely. […] Therefore, having even a handful of people who can say they really get it because they’ve lived it, too, in their respective spaces, just helps with that so much. I’m fortunate in that some of my castmates are honest enough to say, ‘I love you and I want to support you and I’ll do everything I can, but that’s not my experience.’ I don’t live that experience. I’m not the first Black Housewife. There wasn’t a sh*t ton of press around my announcement before I even got on the show in terms of an anticipation. […] Being able to pick up the phone and talk to Crystal Kung Minkoff, to chat with Garcelle [Beauvais] really deeply — [she’s] been a mentor to me! She was the first on an all-white cast and had a very unique experience. Tiffany [Moon]’s had a different experience being a Housewife in the South. That’s a whole different experience! […] We’ve just gotten really close.”

On fans giving her time to make her mark on the show: “I feel like I got the DMs from people who said, ‘I wasn’t really clear about how you would fit into this group or if you would or what my opinions of you and this season would be,’ and by the end, they just saw some things that were pretty fantastic. They were really pleased that they did stay the course and watched the entire season play out. There was a huge payoff by way of my personal story — I obviously found my father, I went through an incredible personal journey breaking off my engagement and moving forward, onward and upward. I appreciated the grace and the space to be able to do that.”

Watch In The Know’s full interview with Eboni K. Williams below:

If you enjoyed this story, check out In The Know’s recent interview with fellow The Real Housewives of New York City star Bershan Shaw!

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