Heather Thomson from The Real Housewives of New York City may have found several quirks and idiosyncracies that annoyed her during her time on the show. But there was one aspect that really didn’t gel with her.
Thomson told The New York Times she found it odd and uncomfortable that no women of color were represented in her franchise. “Absolutely, it bothered me,” she said. “I advocated for more diversity while I was on ‘The Real Housewives of New York City,’ not only to showcase the reality of NYC, but also my own true circle of friends.”
Thomson said she even suggested a few friends to producers she thought would fit nicely with the cast. She said producers “were wide open to it.” In fact, they reached out to the women she suggested. But, they told her they “were not successful in finding the right individual to fill the void.”
This move didn’t help either
The reason behind the casting miss is unclear. A Bravo casting rep offered this explanation. The “docuseries follow groups of friends who are organically connected, often through long, pre-existing relationships but in some cases only casually through a wider social circle or six degrees of separation.”
The franchise did not cast a woman of color but later this misstep didn’t make the diversity factor much better. After Thomson had left the show, an episode captured a Halloween party where Luann de Lesseps arrived dressed as Diana Ross. She wore an oversized afro wig. Plus, de Lesseps’ face seemed to be a few shades darker.
None of the cast members knew who she was channeling, which annoyed her. The New York Times notes this was the closest the franchise has ever had to feature a woman of color. Carole Radziwill called de Lesseps out because it appeared as though she had darkened her skin on purpose.
However, de Lesseps appeared on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen. She insisted that it wasn’t the case. “I love Diana Ross. I totally respect Diana Ross. It was really kind of a tribute to her. It was Halloween!” She emphasized that she would never “dream of doing blackface” and that she had simply used bronzer on her skin.
‘RHOBH’ makes big changes
After the casting dust-up last season, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills producers likely knew they’d have to come in strong with a new cast member.
The reality empire announced the first black woman was cast for RHOBH. Actress Garcelle Beauvais, who appeared on The Jamie Foxx Show and Barbershop 2 released a statement announcing she was excited to join the cast.
“As the first African American Housewife in the ‘Beverly Hills’ franchise, I am honored and humbled by this awesome opportunity to exemplify the fact that Black Girl Magic lives and thrives in every ZIP code,” Variety reports. “I’m excited to share the many ongoing daily surprises, laughs and joys of being a working mother in today’s crazy world. The hustle is R-E-A-L! No games, all heart and a little dash of fashion-filled sass is what you’ll get when you step into my sphere… and I wouldn’t have it any other way!”