Monique Samuels is making her reality TV comeback — but not in a way most viewers were expecting.
After saying goodbye to reality TV more than two years ago, the former Real Housewives of Potomac star, 38, is starring in a new reality show, Love & Marriage: DC. The show will give an inside look at her life with her husband, Chris Samuels, and other successful couples as they navigate their business endeavors and their personal lives and friendships in the D.C., Virginia and Maryland area.
“Because it’s real. It’s actually what I feel was meant for me — love and marriage,” Monique exclusively tells Us Weekly after reflecting on her previous time on reality TV. “That was my reason for coming to reality TV. The platform that I was previously on — it didn’t really fit with that dynamic.”
The Mila Eve Essentials founder claimed the Bravo series was “toxic,” declaring that she had no regrets about leaving the show behind. “It was worth it to me because my peace means more to me than any show, any check, any person,” she told Us. “As I move forward I only do things that I feel, like, won’t interrupt my peace.”
Monique’s December 2020 exit from the Real Housewives franchise came after Bravo cameras caught a physical altercation with her castmate Candiace Dillard Bassett. The incident left both reality TV stars facing assault charges but ended up being dismissed by the Office of the State’s Attorney for Montgomery County, Maryland.
“It was a growing moment. I am now in a position where I am fully aware of who I am,” she expressed to Us. “I know what my triggers are now after going through that, being in therapy, having a counselor, being open to a more spiritual journey has led me on a path to really know me.”
During the season 5 reunion, which aired in December 2020, Monique apologized for her behavior toward the Christmas Lottery star, who stormed off of the set in tears. “Of course, I’m upset … I’m just trying to explain it the way that I process it,” Monique told host Andy Cohen at the time. “I literally went from one mental state to the next and then right after that there’s my name in the headlines of me being pressed charges on. … Nothing in that night warranted that but it happened, I take responsibility for my actions and I had a terrible lapse of judgment and I lost control and I own that … there’s no other excuse for it.”
The former costars’ drama continued one month later when Monique alleged on the “Behind the Velvet Rope” podcast that she was treated like “less than a human” on the Bravo series. Candiace seemingly threw shade at the claims, tweeting in January 2021, “Smh. I quit a job once that I really hated. I was ELATED to be rid of a place and ppl that were just not for me. After I left, I never talked about that job again. Bc I left of my own volition. It was my choice. Any resentment died w/ my choice to leave. I’ll just leave this here.”
With the feud in her rearview, Monique is looking forward to viewers getting to see a more authentic side of herself on her new OWN series, which premieres on Saturday, May 14. Scroll down for Us Weekly‘s exclusive Q&A with the Love & Marriage: DC star:
Us Weekly: You’re starring in a new show on OWN called Love & Marriage: DC. How does it feel to be back on TV after over two years?
Monique Samuels: It’s almost like I’m back for the first time because I do not feel like people were able to see the full picture with my first go-around on reality TV. My initial mission was to show what a Black family looks like, what a Black marriage looks like on reality TV. There are a lot of stereotypes. And my husband and I wanted to show people this is how we are and I don’t know that I ever had that opportunity. Then fast forward to Love & Marriage: DC. This was the perfect fit for me. And I do believe everything in life happens for a reason. Everything I went through leading up to this moment was for Love & Marriage: DC. We are able to really showcase here’s our family, here’s our marriage, here we are as entrepreneurs, here we are as parents, and here we are amongst a beautiful circle of other people who are in the same position as us and we are all learning and growing from each other. It’s more up my alley this time around. And you’ll see so many different sides of me because I feel as though I was put into somewhat of a box the first time people saw me on reality TV.
Us: Love & Marriage: DC is premiering May 14. As everyone knows, you starred on The Real Housewives of Potomac. Why did you decide to return to TV with this new show?
MS: Because it’s real. It’s actually what I feel was meant for me — love and marriage. That was my reason for coming to reality TV. The platform that I was previously on — it didn’t really fit with that dynamic. I feel like everything is divinely laid out and I had to go through what I went through to get to this point. I am very passionate about family, I’m passionate about my marriage and people get to see the full picture. They get to see not just me amongst a girls’ group, but they get to see me, how I interact with my husband, how we navigate difficulties in our marriage, how we love each other, how we might blow up on each other and how we are raising these beautiful kids together. And all the challenges that may come our way. We have like-minded couples in this friends circle. They don’t tear you down. They build you up. They relate to what you’re going through. To me, that is more of an example of what people go through in real life. It’s not a toxic environment. It’s an environment where there can be misunderstandings, there can be a little shade, there can be a little fun, but it’s real and related TV. You’ll watch the show and feel like you really know us. All of us couples — the Samuels, the Silvas and the Tylers — we have such a wide range of ages with our children. So, we can touch on so many topics for all walks of life. It’s beautiful. It’s a journey. We start as social friends and you’ll see how we navigate that to more of an intimate relationship, way more open and vulnerable with each other, and you’ll see a sisterhood and brotherhood develop.
Us: What have you been doing since you left the Real Housewives series?
MS: As soon as I quit the show I started using my YouTube channel “Tea with Monique” once again. It was a Q&A with fans of the show and I got so busy that I wasn’t able to keep up with it so I rebooted that. I was able to also put together “BinderTime Stories” which gave people a little bit of tea from the binder that they didn’t get to see on the season 5 [RHOA] reunion so it was really fun. It was very Game of Thrones-ish with the visuals and it was a way for me to summarize my time on TV at the moment and also it was healing for me. I was able to get it all out of my system in a creative way. Next, I started Mila Eve Essentials, a line of pure, therapeutic essential oils. It took off! It is incredible. You can use it on your skin. And I have Flawless Glow Toner which is the beginning of my skincare line that will be launching later this year. It’s the bestseller in my store! Never a dull moment!
Us: Was returning to reality TV like riding a bike?
MS: I’m an open book. Anything is going to be presented in such a way where you’re going to get to know the full me. I have always given it 100 percent when the cameras are around or not around. I am still determined to always be me. It was more like riding a bike because I’m going to be me regardless. I don’t know how to be anybody else! As soon as the opportunity came around and we started filming it was like, ‘OK, here we go,’ and it was a much better fit. Less toxic and the production company was more like a fly on the wall. It was very real. I don’t feel like I’m being edited in the moment that I am actually giving my all. I feel like when I was on RHOP I got the ‘spoiled wife edit.’ It was almost like we can’t show her as a businesswoman. We can’t show her too much with her kids. It was like I was only supposed to be the big spender and it was like that’s not really me. I can do that at times, but that’s not the full person. I am a very hard-working individual and I’m not a kept wife. It’s [now] nice that I am able to be me 100 percent. In the midst of it all, I wasn’t encouraged to be one way or the other. It was just you be you and they’re going to tell the story based on what actually happened.
Us: How is this show different from Housewives?
MS: It’s different because this is more focused on marriage, business, friendships [and] parenting. It’s more of a full view of a person versus on Housewives, [where] you typically have just the women it’s focused on and there is usually only one entrepreneur, there’s one mom, there’s one person who’s single, there’s one person who’s divorced. Once they put you into that box, that’s the box they leave you in. They’re only pulling [scenes] with what aligns with whatever box they put you in. So [fans] don’t see much of whatever else you’re doing.
Us: What can viewers expect from you and your husband Chris on Love & Marriage: DC?
MS: This is a version no one has ever witnessed. We are approaching 10 years of marriage and it is quite a struggle. It just so happened to be filmed where we are going through some tough things and having really vulnerable conversations. It was like every confessional was like a therapy session. I hope that, in a sense, as we look back on the show it will strengthen our marriage and our bond and take our communication to another level. You get to see these friendship circles navigate life and just doing our best to maintain our happiness and peace and uplift each other. But there is going to be a lot of drama and a lot of scandals. Let’s just say there is a situation when it is, like, a D.C. scandal. A person who presents themself in a way and then you find out well, you are completely the opposite of what you presented. It’s good! There’s going to be things you did not expect to see. Your mouth is going to drop. It’s a full season where no one is relying on another person for stories. Everyone is relevant. Everyone is bringing their own situation and being open about it.
Us: Fans know you from the four seasons you starred on Housewives. You shared so much on the show but decided to leave after season 5 following a physical altercation with costar Candiace Dillard Bassett. What are your thoughts about the show today after what happened?
MS: My thoughts are still the same. There were charges pressed against me and then, of course, I countered. Then there were talks of suing me financially. And it was a very nasty situation. I was able to learn a lot from it and that is why I am where I am now. I feel like when you can actually confront yourself and have those tough conversations with yourself and really grow and move forward, I feel like the doors and windows open up. It was a growing moment. I am now in a position where I am fully aware of who I am. And I know what my triggers are now after going through that, being in therapy, having a counselor, being open to a more spiritual journey has led me on a path to really know me. I know what situation not to involve myself in. I have learned that I am a person who has never dealt well with low energy or low vibrating people and I have never been a person who can be around so much toxicity. Unfortunately, I didn’t even realize how toxic it was until I left and was able to look back on it. I took ownership of my actions. I was accountable from the beginning for my actions. And even in the end, I can only be accountable for me. I don’t look to anybody else. And I didn’t go into this feeling like [I] needed an apology. If it happens, it happens. And I was fine to do what I had to do on my part to apologize to make myself whole and move forward. It is what it is, and life happens and sometimes you act outside yourself and there are no excuses for it. All you can do is learn from it and grow.
Us: Do you have any regrets?
MS: Not at all. I am glad I made the decision to leave that franchise when I sent the email to quit. It was worth it to me because my peace means more to me than any show, any check, any person. As I move forward I only do things that I feel, like, won’t interrupt my peace. And the moment it does I’m going to show the two fingers and be like, ‘I’m out!’ (laughs)
Us: Are you in touch with any RHOA costars?
MS: The only people who I recognize and talk to are Karen Huger and Ashley Darby. I keep in touch with them, they reach out to me. We have been able to maintain a beautiful sisterhood that I am very grateful for.
Us: Your former costar Ashley Darby and her husband, Michael, announced in April that they are separating. Did this come as a surprise to you?
MS: It wasn’t a surprise to me because Ashley and I keep in touch. So we had been talking so I knew there were some issues. I didn’t realize that it was going down that road though, honestly. I knew she expressed some things she was struggling with, but I thought there was going to be a way that they could navigate and get through it. And you never know! They still may! Hope is never gone. I know at the end of the day Ashley is going to do what’s best for her and her beautiful children. And I know one thing about Michael, he has always struck me as the type [who] doesn’t want the drama, he just wants to be happy — and if filing for legal separation is ultimately what makes them happy, that’s what they’re going to do. They don’t care what anybody else has to say or think when it comes to their marriage. They have made that clear over the years. I just wish them luck for sure.
Us: Andy Cohen has revealed he’s open and interested in you returning to the Housewives franchise. How do you feel about that?
MS: I appreciate Andy, we talk offline. We still stay in touch. He knows I would never come back to that show (laughs). Not even as a cameo. Ashley and Karen let me know when they were hosting things. Even Karen’s vow renewals, she told me it was happening and she already knew because cameras were there I wasn’t going to come. So they pretty much know how I roll. (laughs) I still love you, but when cameras are rolling I’ll love you from afar. But I am truly humbled that people still think about me and still talk about the impact I was able to leave when I was there.
Love & Marriage: DC premieres on OWN Saturday, May 14, at 9 p.m. ET.