The women of The Real Housewives of Potomac are more than meets the eye. Not only breathtakingly beautiful, but they are business women whose family is their greatest joy. We had the opportunity to have a candid conversation with Gizelle Bryant and Robyn Dixon about their role on the show, their businesses, and their friendship.
Photography: Phelan Marc
Wardrobe Stylist: Marci Hunter
Monarch Magazine: Do you find it challenging to overcome the stigma associated with reality shows in general?
Gizelle: No. When I decided to be part of a reality show I decided to always live in my truth, to be who I am, and I think that as of today I’ve done that and done that very well. As long as you decide to be authentic to who you really are, I don’t think that’s an issue.
Robyn: Yes, I do. I feel like for some reason, we’re not considered in the same class as other entertainers whether it’s television hosts or actresses and actors. I feel like we’re always fighting an uphill battle until some reality shows have proven their longevity. I think it takes a longer time for people to get to know us and take us seriously, and you have to be around for a while to gain that respect.
Monarch Magazine: What are some things that each of you can share to empower women to continue expanding and pushing toward their dreams?
Gizelle: 1. Get a dream that you really and truly feel passionate about and believe in. A lot of people live life without even having a dream, so let’s start there. 2. Stick to them—you’ll be told no a million times over and over again. 3. Don’t let anyone stop you from what you love to do and what you feel passionate about. EveryHue Beauty wouldn’t be here if I listened to people. I tell my children the same thing; never let anybody stop you from doing what it takes to get whatever you want.
Robyn: 1. Don’t be afraid to start small. When people set a goal or a dream they want to achieve it right away and have success instantly, but for anything, starting a new talent or starting a new business… baby steps are okay. Baby steps are still small gains towards achieving your goals. 2. Have faith and pray, and believe in yourself; don’t listen to naysayers. Definitely take constructive criticism, but in your heart you know what you are destined to do. Whoever your god is will lead you in the right direction. Everyone’s timeline is different so things may not happen right away, but if you continue to have faith in what you’re doing you’ll eventually reap the benefits and the rewards. 3. Be kind, be a genuine kind person, and don’t try to take advantage of people. Sometimes people want the quick success and will do whatever it takes to get it, which might hurt people in the process. In the long run, it pays off if you’re a kind, honest, genuine and loyal person.
Monarch Magazine: How did you get involved with the Real Housewives franchise?
Gizelle: Bravo was looking to come back to this area and one of the casting directors is someone I’ve known for a long time and they called and asked me if I was interested in doing reality television. At first I said no because I felt like I’m living a fabulous life and minding my business over here, and then after a while I thought about it and said why not, you only live once. It was a great opportunity to do something a little bit different and to show my life that I’m very proud of.
Robyn: Bravo decided to do some casting in our area. It was a word of mouth thing. It got to my cast mates, Gizelle and Charrisee. I’m very good friends with both of them; they recommended me for the show. I was like why not, you only live once. In all honesty, I really didn’t believe I would end up on the show so I just went along with the process not thinking they’d find me interesting or want me on the show at all. At that time, I was going through some financial difficulties; I wasn’t living the lavish life that a lot of times these types of shows like to highlight. But I’m on and we’re in the third season.
Monarch Magazine: How does it feel to have everyone know your name and supposedly your personal business?
Gizelle: It’s a little weird sometimes, but I guess it comes with the territory. It has taken a little getting used to when I’m doing things that are mundane, for instance, like going to the gas station or when I pop into 7-Eleven to pick up Slurpees for my kids. It catches me off guard when I’m doing routine things and someone is like, hey, Gizelle.
Robyn: That is strange for me because I am such a homebody. I like to people watch and observe so now I’m the one who people are watching. When I’m out sometimes, I feel people staring at me or pointing and whispering they recognize me, but they’re not sure; it’s funny. I don’t walk around in my daily life thinking about I’m on the show so when I’m out I have to remind myself I’m on a television show. But I do appreciate everyone who comes up to me and says hi, and tells me they watch the show. I love meeting fans of the show; it’s just really surreal for me.
Monarch Magazine: You are divorced, with three children, beautiful confident and strong. When most women decide to give up you just keep climbing to new heights. Tell me, what drives you?
Gizelle: My little kids. My kids definitely push me to be who and what I am. My whole purpose is to make them proud. I tell them that and they get it. They are really proud of me and my mom is always on my mind, she’s always in my ear. I think about what would my mom think or feel about something. She gave up her career to raise me, my brother, and sister because back then being a stay-at-home mom was the thing to do if you could afford it as a family. That is the hardest job in the world and it is to be commended. But there are a lot of things that my mom looks back on and regrets a little bit as far as a having a professional career for herself. So, I’m also making my mom proud out here and that makes me happy.
Monarch Magazine: Who inspires you?
Gizelle: My kids and my mother. I always strive to be a better version of myself. When I got divorced I decided to take a lot of time to perfect and make Gizelle the best person she could be in every aspect of life, so that includes spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. I worked on me for a while; always work on yourself. When you do fulfill your dreams, you want to do it with the best version of you that could possibly exist. I’m not in competition with anyone else but my best self yesterday.
Monarch Magazine: EveryHue Beauty, what brought this idea about?
Gizelle: I have always been a makeup girl. I love lipstick and played in my mother’s drawer of cosmetics. I’m the girl who sat in the mirror and put on makeup; growing up that was my thing. As I got older and needed to wear it properly, I struggled with finding foundation and tinted moisturizers that really matched my skin tone. So that’s where it started. I wanted to bring things to the beauty industry…things that help women of color. EveryHue Beauty includes our tinted moisturizer, setting powders, setting spray and highlighters. We’re looking to expand the brand. It started with just wanting to fill a need in the beauty space.
Monarch Magazine: How do your children handle their mother living out real life experiences on TV for the world to see?
Gizelle: Well, when I first started I asked them what they thought. I asked them if they thought it was going to be good idea if their mommy was on TV because not everybody is going to like your mommy. They were like, Mommy, we love you and do it. There have been some things that will come up that I’ll run by them before any of their friends see it on the show. So that’s been my way of keeping them in the loop therefore they are never blindsided by anything. I will tell them first.
Gizelle is a vibrant businesswoman and resident of the Potomac area who effortlessly manages her jam-packed calendar as a single mother of three daughters, Grace and twins Angel and Adore. Gizelle keeps herself busy with multiple philanthropy projects and entrepreneurial ventures. She generates funds to revitalize various major cities in order to help those in need or in transition. Gizelle is committed to working hard and sees every obstacle as an opportunity. She has had a successful launch of her cosmetics line, EveryHue Beauty. The hero product of the line is a tinted moisturizer that is geared to meet the needs of every woman of color. Everyhue Beauty is available at Target stores and online. Gizelle maintains her status as a sophisticated woman in the Potomac social scene, and with her outspoken, no-nonsense demeanor, she is embracing her single life, and is open to possibly settling down once again.
Monarch Magazine: Do you plan to do more television?
Gizelle: I don’t know. I’m good with The Real Housewives of Potomac. Some other things have come my way that I’ve looked at so we’ll see.
Monarch Magazine: Is there anything else that you aspire to do?
Gizelle: We’ve seen this season that I’ve started writing a book loosely based on my life and my life when I was married to a pastor, so that is still in the works. I’d like for that to be made into some sort of either television show or movie. I would like to get into the production side of television.
Monarch Magazine: Can you shed some light on your connection to Robyn? The two of you are always so supportive of each other.
Gizelle: Robyn and I met through Charrisse maybe eight years ago. The night we met, we became immediate friends. Robyn is from Baltimore; I used to live in Baltimore. When I moved to Baltimore people would always ask me if I knew Robyn… am I related to Robyn? I had no idea who she was at the time. And vice versa, people would ask her the same questions based on how we looked. So when we finally met each other, we were like oh my God! We were so excited to finally meet one another. We started hanging out, meeting for lunch and having drinks. Robyn is someone who is just a really good person.
Monarch Magazine: What’s your perspective about how Robyn is putting her family back together?
Gizelle: When I met Robyn, I was already divorced and she was going through hers so she really leaned on me as it relates to the big questions, such as do I really want to do this as a single mom? All these thoughts go through your mind when you’re thinking about getting a divorce and children are involved. But the way that they are handling it and raising their children, moving forward as a family is extremely special, and it speaks to the degree of love they have for one another and their history, which at this point, no one can question.
Baltimore native Robyn Dixon: is the epitome of “You can’t keep a good girl down!” She graduated from the University of Maryland, where she earned a degree in business marketing. A full-time single mom of two active sons, nineyear- old Corey and eight-year-old Carter, Robyn successfully maintains a balance between family, work, and fun. Never one to sit still, Robyn is pursuing a career as an event producer and has recently launched her own special events firm, Visionary Events in the DC/MD area. Additionally, Robyn and her mother, Gladys, have recently partnered on a new real estate investing venture, in the city of Baltimore. Robyn focuses her philanthropic endeavors on causes benefitting women, children, and families.
Monarch Magazine: How would you describe your personality, and is it drastically different from what we experience from the show?
Robyn: I’m a really laid back person, very easy going. I try to mind my own business, but when I’m pushed repeatedly it’s like poking a sleeping bear. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt and be nice and fair, but sometimes people take you places that you normally don’t want to go. I’m an Aries which is a fire sign, and at times the fire comes out, but in all honestly, I like to give people the benefit of the doubt first. So, what you see on television regarding me is pretty accurate.
Monarch Magazine: You’ve been an athlete all of your life. How much do you attribute health and wellness as part of your success?
Robyn: I played sports through high school. I didn’t play after college. But being married to a professional athlete kinda forced me to stay fit, in shape, and athletic. And now that I have boys, that keeps me really active as well. It’s definitely an important part of my life because I believe in feeling good and looking good, and really trying to prepare for the years to come. I have so much life to live and I want it to be the heathiest life possible.
Monarch Magazine: You are breaking new ground in a few different ways—business, social, and relationship. Separate but together is the new norm. How is this for you?
Robyn: My relationship with Juan…we just have so much history that we see the bigger picture and we ask how we can make each other better because we are parents to our children. I think taking the selfishness out of relationships helps you get to that point. When people go through relationships and they have turmoil they take things personally rather than looking at the other person as a human being that makes mistakes. Regardless of who is on the receiving end, sometimes it requires a “growing up” process that people have to go through. I think when people can take themselves out of the equation and can see growth in that person, then you hopefully can get over the past without being bitter and angry. The one thing that hurts my heart is when parents absolutely hate each other and their kids are suffering because of it. It’s so hurtful to the kids, and people don’t realize the damage it can do. For me, it’s all about the big picture, long term.
Monarch Magazine: I would imagine it’s great in some aspects, but challenging in others. What advice would you give to other women who would like to adopt this lifestyle?
Robyn: I think there are many reasons we’ll start seeing this more and more. It’s expensive out here to raise a family, and when you share bills with another adult, it’s very helpful. It’s hard raising kids. I can raise them by myself, but it would be hard. As long as the situation is not toxic, and you’re not being physically, mentally, or emotionally abused, and you’re not miserable, you can work something out. There are some situations where you have to run for the hills and find another solution, but if the man is willing to say I see where I need to improve and change, I see where we can make each other better, I think it’s worth trying to find a compromise. It has to be a two-way street, though.
Monarch Magazine: Your lifestyle website RobynDixon.com. What prompted you to launch this?
Robyn: by being on the show I get tons of questions on so many topics. Where did you get that shirt? What lip gloss were you wearing? Where do you take your kids for fun? So many questions I get asked on a daily basis; the lifestyle site is meant to provide resources and tools for women like me who are looking for similar things. I like to look nice, but I don’t want to spend a ton of money doing it. I want to help people find great things, show how to bargain shop and still look cute, or shed light on healthy eating—just share what I know that other people would enjoy and benefit from.
Monarch Magazine: And please share the big picture of what you would you like to accomplish.
Being on a reality show, you get a platform to do things you wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. For example, I have a lip gloss collaboration with an existing cosmetics collection. I’m thinking about different industries such as healthy lifestyles, real estate investing, government contracting some other things that I plan on getting into. Businesses that will be around forever and not just what’s trendy, but something I can pass down to my children. Building generational wealth, that’s the goal.
Monarch Magazine: Tell us about your She Is Empowered women’s empowerment series.
Robyn: I’ve been sharing my story on the show. I hear the feedback from women and people who have gone through similar things. They say I give them strength by sharing what I’ve been through. People fall on hard times, and I want to help women understand that you can rebound from hard times. I established my women’s empowerment series which is all about entrepreneurship and helping women learn about how to establish multiple streams of income and how to be an entrepreneur. If something were to happen, you can bounce back because you’re discovering your other skills and you’re armed a with a back-up plan. I learned first-hand that having a plan a and a plan c is extremely important. Being a woman, I was married and relied on my husband’s income, and although I kept busy, I wasn’t doing much to contribute financially to the family. So whatever your situation is, you can always do more; the response has been great. Visit She-Is-Empowered.com to get details about the next event on August 10. Let’s support each other. I want women to know they are not alone and don’t have to do this alone.
Monarch Magazine: How did you and Gizelle become friends?
Robyn: Gizelle is my boo. Gizelle and I met through Charrisse. She invited us both to a charity event and we were sitting at her table we didn’t know each other at all. We just started laughing and joking and people watching, having a great time. We introduced ourselves and when I said who I was, she was like oh my gosh you’re the girl that everyone in Baltimore asks if we’re related. I’m from Baltimore and when she was married to Jamal she lived in Baltimore and we look alike, everyone just assumed we knew each other. I’m like you’re the woman I saw on the side of the metro bus! Jamal’s church would put advertisements on the bus so I’d see her face all the time. We instantly clicked from there. It’s been fun to be on the show together with her. The Real Housewives of Potomac is in its third season, airing Sundays at 8 p.m. on Bravo.
Submitted by Faye Hyslop