“The professor has arrived and class is officially in session.” – Dr. Wendy Osefo tagline for her new season.
Season 5 of The Real Housewives of Potomac is welcoming a class act and a highly evolved academic to a cast that has had more than its share of scandals and skirmishes.
Bravo’s Maryland-based series is introducing new Housewife, Dr. Wendy Osefo. Dr. Osefo, 35, is the shiny new kid on the block for The Real Housewives of Potomac. Her tagline posted above indicates she will suffer no fools nor let anyone disrespect her place at the table.
Multihyphenate mother Dr. Osefo is no lightweight or glossy glam queen who excels at lunches and gossip – she’s the real deal.
Dr. Wendy serves as an on-air pundit for many high profile networks, and she is a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Education. This savvy mother of three is also an entrepreneurial upstart who has her eye on the luxury home goods and furnishings retail market.
Born in Nigeria, Wendy emigrated to the United States as a schoolgirl. Maryland is her home now, and she is a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Dr. Wendy has been married for nine years. She and her Nigerian husband, attorney Edward Osefo, met as teenagers, were friends for several years, and wed after graduating college. They have three children together, seven-year-old son Karter, five-year-old son Kruz, and the newest addition to the family, newborn daughter Kamrynn.
New season of RHOP
The Real Housewives of Potomac premieres its fifth season on Sunday. Premiering in 2016, RHOP was the second Housewives series to feature a cast of all Black women after The Real Housewives of Atlanta.
Thanks to Candiace Dillard Bassett, a cast member since Season 3, Monsters & Critics learned that is was she who was most responsible for getting her pal Dr. Wendy onto the series.
The new season teaser displays a bit of friction between Dr. Wendy and Ashley Darby who bristles at Dr. Wendy’s CV and “Dr.” title.
Monsters & Critics spoke to Dr. Wendy Osefo, the newest addition to the cast of The Real Housewives of Potomac, as she dished on what fans can expect from the new season, her plans for home design, world dominance, and how she feels about larger picture social and racial justice issues as well.
Monsters & Critics: How long have you lived in Maryland?
Dr. Wendy Osefo: I went to high school in Maryland, so I have been in Maryland for a while. My family has lived up and down the East coast, but Maryland has been home for relatively some time for me.
M&C: Who are you closest to on the series? Who was the person that said you should be on the show?
Dr. Wendy O: So it’s interesting because I am relatively close to Candiace. Aside from that, I actually have other connections to some of the ladies. Like I am on a nonprofit board with another one and we run the same social circles. So the relationships were really organic. I came in through Candiace.
M&C: You’re an academic. You have a professional reputation and you’re an evolved professional woman. How do you protect yourself when the producers want to tune up the volume on drama? Are there situations that you don’t want to be part of?
Dr. Wendy O: So the producers never asked us to tune up the drama. What you see on TV is really what occurred. It’s truly just the evolution of our relationships. I can only speak for myself. I come on the show as an individual.
I don’t necessarily represent any entity or individuals aside from myself. I have a extensive background in education and policy and politics, and those things can never be taken away from me. My degrees, my accomplishments, my awards, all of those things come with me and will stay with me until I’m no longer here on this earth.
So, being a part of this show, it speaks to the fact that women, and as a Black woman, we come in different facets and I represent the academic Black woman.
And, even though I go to work like everyone goes to work, everyone still has their friends. We still have conversations with our friends, we still go to dinner parties with our friends.
So what I am doing is not, against the grain, so to speak. It’s just that, unfortunately with people who are in professional settings, they feel like they can only be one thing. I am able to show that you can have multilayers and be multi-dimensional. And what you do with your friends will never define who you are nor what you’ve accomplished professionally.
M&C: Specifically I am referring to the scene in the teaser with Ashley Darby. I know you can’t give spoilers on the season and it wouldn’t be fair to the fans… Is it fair to say that there’s going to be some conflict with you and Ashley during the season?
Dr. Wendy O: I think that all of our relationships go through different iterations and what the viewers see during that millisecond of the preview is an example of one of the iterations that myself and Ashley go through.
All of us are changing as we are new moms, Ashley, and myself, as we are charting new paths about businesses as we are getting deeper in our marriages. So we evolve. And through that evolution of our individual selves also comes evolution of our friendships.
So this season that people will see how, what we are going through as individuals has an impact on our friendship and the ways in which we are able to bounce back from that, or, move forward from those moments.
M&C: Your husband, is he also part of this series or has he said, no, this is all yours?
Dr. Wendy O: My husband is very much part of anything. I do. My husband is a love of my life. He is one of the people who gave me not only a blessing to do the show but really told me why not. so you will see my family, you will see my husband, you will see my children. Again, this show really shows our lives and part of my life as my husband of nine years.
So yes, he, he’s a part of this. He’s a part of any journey that I involve myself with. I’m so happy to show Black marriage in a positive way on television.
M&C: I love your design aesthetic. How would you describe it? And tell me about what your, your plans are for this entrepreneurial side of you that wants to explore interior design and decorating and, and maybe a retail market or for home goods?
Dr. Wendy O: Yes! So my, my design style is luxury meets cozy and luxury meets home. I’m the mom of three kids. I have a husband and we are a relatively big family. We also have a dog.
So when you come into our house, you can tell that there was time and effort put into curating each and every single room within our home, but it’s also very functional.
I pride myself in having the ability to create an environment where my children can be kids but also have an environment where when I look around, I’m happy with what I see aesthetically. I am super excited about the possibility about launching my own home essential line.
It’s something that I am really looking into doing, and I love the way that happens when you transform a house into a home. And that’s what I would love to do with interior design and home essentially, is to make every house into a home that people look forward to going to
M&C: How would you apply your academic training to this venture? Would you be involved in every aspect of the business? Would you bring people in from a business standpoint or, and how would you market and sell these items? Would you have a physical store? Would it be online?
Dr. Wendy O: That’s a great question. So for me, it’s, it’s really in the infancy stages, especially now with COVID-19. I have to really see, regarding the ability to have a storefront, right? So many people have transitioned from face-to-face sales more to online.
So I want to make sure I get the temperature of the room, in any business that I launch I want to make sure that it really speaks to people and the needs as well as the environment.
But I want people to know, if this pandemic has taught us nothing else, we have to make sure that where we rest our head is a place we love, because for many of us who’ve been in our homes for months and months and months. So it’s really a time for us to take inventory of the things we would like to transform and our own lives and what we can do better.
My husband has a big business background. He has an MBA, he’s also an attorney. He help the bigger corporations more than myself. So I look forward to, hopefully, get his insight on the best ways in which to launch this business venture because he’s truly business-minded.
M&C: What is the 1954 Project you work with about?
Dr. Wendy O: So the 1954 equity project as a passion project and a passion business that I started 1954 as an ode to Brown v. Board of Education.
It was a Supreme court decision that passed in 1954. The premise of it was about integration in schools and what the Supreme court justice said. And one of the rulings is separate can never be equal.
So the 1954 project was founded to make sure that communities of color and students of color feel like they are a part of any school setting that they belong to. As an academic, and often times being the only Black academic in the department, I found that my students of color will come to me and say that they feel alienated from the campus.
So they don’t feel like they are part of the campus. The 1954 equity project provides tools, resources, mentorship, to students of color, to help them navigate through, different capital as it pertains to, ‘How are you adjusting in school? Are you the first person in your family to go to college? What does that look like? Who are you talking to about your needs when you go to college? What does it look like to have a mentor? Do you have a mentor?’
Really making sure students of color have the same tools that their white counterparts have when it comes time to navigate the educational landscape.
M&C: Who are your closest allies for this and leveling these opportunities for Black children in America, who are some of the unsung heroes that work with you to make this happen?
Dr. Wendy O: Parents. So many times we talk about stakeholders and education, and we talk about teachers and we talk about administrators, or we talk about universities. We never really talk about those individuals who are bringing these students to the classroom.
And those are the parents, and another close ally that’s often the unsung hero are the students themselves.
I find as educators, we often talk to students, but we never bring them to the table to simply say, what do you want? What would help us be better educators for you?
I think sometimes we overthink things and we try to bring in these big corporations or these big nonprofits to do this work. But the truth of the matter is most of what we need to know, we can find those answers by just speaking to our students and asking them, how does this campus make you feel since you’ve been here?
Do you feel like you’re a part of the campus community and if not, why? So my greatest allies have been not only the students, but also their parents and or guardians.
M&C: Alright. This is a rather silly question after that lovely explanation.
Dr. Wendy O: I love silly questions,
M&C: Now you have to be gorgeous all the time. You’re on TV or you’re an analyst. You’re a pundit. You’re a TV star. Is it exhausting to have to be gorgeous all the time?
Dr. Wendy O: Absolutely. I try to plan everything that requires makeup for the same day. So if I have a five day week and the calendar and I have 20 interviews, I will tell my team to put all 20 interviews, if possible on the same day.
I hate wearing makeup. I hate doing my hair. I’m a mom of three. I just want to like, just do what I need to do. So yes, it’s exhausting. I do not like glam, at all. I’d rather not, but I do it when I need to.
M&C: My very last question is a big picture question. The political climate is tough. It is disheartening. It is frustrating. It is an anger-inducing thing. Are you optimistic, pessimistic, or neutral about Black and White people coming together as a country? I really believe that education for all is the savior of any society. And especially for women, how do you feel about that?
Dr. Wendy O: I’m optimistic. I’m optimistic because I feel as though this, what we have witnessed in 2020 with the killing of George Floyd with the rising of the Black Lives Matter movement will be a catalyst for generations to come.
You know, right now, as I’m talking to you, they are conducting the funeral of the great icon, Congressman John Lewis, and today they released his last written accord where he says to release this the day that I am buried.
And it is a call to action because every generation has a role to play in this liberation. So I’m optimistic because I still … if nothing else, people are paying attention and that’s the way you create change.
Real change can only be created until we identify the problem. And so now it’s up to us to work for fixing that problem. I’m highly optimistic. I think something is going to happen that is going to push us forward together as a united front.
The Real Housewives of Potomac Season 5 premieres Sunday, August 2 at 8/7c on Bravo.
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