Real Housewives Of Potomac star Ashley Darby is fresh off of a whirlwind BravoCon, but her hustle doesn’t stop. In addition to her press tour celebrating the Season 8 premiere, Darby is in the middle of finalizing her divorce from Michael Darby and adjusting to life as a single mom to sons Dean and Dylan. The momtrepreneur and TikTok enthusiast also is hard at work on GnA, an activewear line she started with RHOP co-star and friend, Gizelle Bryant. She is truly booked and blessed!
Friendships have always been important to Darby. At the RHOP panel at BravoCon, Darby and frenemy Candiace Dillard Bassett revealed they are “70% good” with each other as of this month. That’s huge, given their checkered history. “Life just was happening so fast, and I just felt this softness for her and she felt this softness for me,” explained Darby. As for Robyn Dixon‘s marital stresses regarding her husband Juan’s alleged infidelities, Darby shared that it was important for her to be there for Robyn.
“Our ultimate goal was to show her that we do love her, we support her, and to potentially open her eyes to something that she can’t see,” said Darby of the tough conversation she, Gizelle and fellow OG/current Friend Of Charrisse Jackson Jordan had with Robyn during the Season 8 premiere. Surprisingly, Darby finds that she has more in common now with the “Grand Dame” herself, Karen Huger, than she did at the beginning of their journey together. “Maybe the older I get, the younger Karen is getting, and somehow, we’re meeting in the middle,” laughed Ashley.
Darby stopped by the DECIDER offices to share her Owen Wilson story (and it’s a doozy), give insight on Bryant’s tough exterior, and reflect on her status as the one of the youngest (and current, thank you very much) OG of a Real Housewives franchise.
DECIDER: I missed you on the press line at BravoCon, but I was seated for The Real Housewives Of Potomac panel. It was one of my favorites!
ASHLEY DARBY: The Grand Dame was present and accounted for, for sure.
It was riveting to watch her take on Robyn. It seemed like everyone—including your cast—had their popcorn out.
That’s the first time we’ve seen each other as a group for a while, even though I have been trying to get us all together under one roof. Someone is just always out of town or busy.
Speaking of BravoCon, I was at the “Andy’s Showgirls” taping of BravoCon Live where it was revealed that you once had a moment with Owen Wilson. Sonja Morgan kind of stole your thunder, but I heard the exchange between you two. Can tell me about your Owen Wilson encounter?
She totally stole my thunder, but that’s okay. I was just waiting for someone to guess me and then she just jumped in with the butt sex and doggie style comments. I did not expect that at all [laughs]. I love Sonja. We’ve done shows together, so we’ve hung out. She’s a vibe. I knew we had a lot in common with motherhood and stuff. I just didn’t know we had that much in common.
Well, I would love to hear your Owen Wilson story.
It was quite a few years ago. I was working at a nightclub in DC called L2. This was just before I met Michael, so I was 20 or 21. I had just come back from Miami, and I had gotten a really bad sunburn. I felt self-conscious because I was a greeter, opening the door for people. Owen Wilson was in town filming that baseball movie [How Do You Know] with Paul Rudd and Reese Witherspoon. He came to the club, and I had my head down, and he said something like I looked beautiful. And I was like, “Well!” [laughs] Even though I felt like a lobster, Owen Wilson said I was cute. He came in for the next three or four nights and yeah…
I wish you could have told Andy that story!
That’s okay. It sounded like Sonja has more to tell [laughs]. She knew everything, all of Owen’s peccadilloes, his preferences, his fetishes. I did a show with Sonja once where she talked about her fixation with back door direction, shall we say. I can only imagine what a time they had together.
Well, let’s get into tonight’s episode a bit. I know your mom Sheila couldn’t attend your housewarming party, but she just had to know if you were going to invite Candiace. Was your mom being a bit messy or was she genuinely curious?
My mom loves Candiace. There’s just something about our mothers. I realized the other day that Candiace’s mother, Ms. Dorothy, was following me on Instagram, and I had just had to hit that follow back button. Our mothers have this affection for us. My mom feels it even for other ladies in my cast, even though she’s the same age as them. She’s very loving. She’s also incredibly forgiving. Genuinely, I think my mom wanted to know if Candiace was going to come because she was hoping Candiace would come.
I know fans love the push and pull of Karen’s and Gizelle’s friendship, but I think fans also can’t get enough of the ever-changing dynamic and undeniable chemistry of your relationship with Candiace. Where does your friendship stand this season?
When the seasons starts, she and I have our differences. As we see in the trailer, everything came to a head. That was very hard for us both. As we both went through our own separate dramas though, we started talking to each over and bonded over our problems. Life just was happening so fast, and I just felt this softness for her and she felt this softness for me. That’s where our relationship started to open up a little. At the end of the season, there’s an incident with my former friend Deborah that turned into a very tense situation. That was another thing that crazily brought us together. Who would’ve thought? But it did.
I know a big hurdle of your friendship with Candiace was your soon-to-be ex-husband, Michael. How are you and Michael handling parallel parenting?
I feel as time goes on, we are getting better at it because we’re becoming more removed from each other. The more time and space that is put between us, the better for our relationship. We still do things with our children. We took them trick or treating together, and we still do certain things together as a family. Again, we really talk about nothing outside of the children. I’m hoping that as time goes on and we both enter new relationships, we can actually just talk like normal people again. It’s very hard for me to, all of a sudden, to not have any relationship with someone that I loved so much.
I can’t imagine how difficult that is.
It makes me wonder if I can ever really love someone again. How did I love someone so deeply and commit myself to him so fully? How do I ever do that with another person? It’s tough.
You’re such a wonderful person and mother, I can’t imagine you’ll be single for very long! It will happen when it happens.
I hope. Madison LeCroy [from Southern Charm] told me before that I have to kiss more frogs. At BravoCon, I asked her again. I was like, “Girl, how many more frogs?” She said, “A few more.” I’ve got to get through this and hopefully find my little Prince Charming soon.
Speaking of Prince Charming, you may have helped Gizelle find hers by introducing her to Jason Cameron from Winter House.
Oh, isn’t Jason great? I watched Summer House and Winter House to do my research, but I didn’t know much about him aside from that. I was actually taken aback by how much I liked Jason. Once Gizelle expressed interest in Jason, I thought they were just going to have a weekend soiree. I did not know that they were going to be together almost a full calendar year later. She’d probably still call it a “situationship,” but I’m like, ” girl, we see you.”
She’s very private about her life. She protects it. She protects him. During the BravoCon Live taping of “Andy’s Showgirls,” she got a little dance on stage from a Chippendales dancer and the first thing she said was, “Jason’s body is better.” I think my girl is falling a little in, shall we say, love, but she’ll never admit it.
Viewers often get on Gizelle’s case for not being open as much as they would like her to be. However, this season she’s showing more vulnerability by sharing Jason with audiences and her difficulties with her daughter Grace leaving for college in the fall. How do you respond when people say that she’s not forthcoming with all the information?
I think you have to know her history to understand her. In Season 1, Gizelle talked about her mom and the complicated relationship that they had, which made her feel a little bit insecure. She got vulnerable with us in a nightclub in DC! It shed a lot of light to me on who she is. She shared a lot more with me since because now we’re in a similar situation with our kids. My kids are the same age that her kids were when she got out of her marriage.
She’s very, very protective of her girls, especially with their dad [Pastor Jamal Bryant] being a public figure, and now with her being a public figure. Gizelle is more cognizant of what she says and does. I think we ought to just be patient. I mean, we waited and she delivered. She gave us a relationship. “Everyone’s been saying,” Karen said, “You can’t get a man. You can’t keep a man.” Now that she’s with Jason, Gizelle said, “Hold my beer.”
I know you, Gizelle, and Charisse approached Robyn in a respectful way about the cheating rumors regarding Juan in the season premiere. Was it important for you to be included in that group conversation?
Yes. The main objective was to be supportive of Robin. We had lightly touched on this topic when we had dinner a few weeks prior to starting to film, but none of us had really gone in depth about it. It was more of a wellness check. Like, “Hey, girl, you all right?” We just took her out dancing afterwards so we never actually delved into the topic. Later, at Gizelle’s house, our ultimate goal was to show her that we do love her, we care about her, we support her, and potentially open her eyes to something that she can’t see. I mean, she’s been with him for over two decades of her life. Child, I didn’t make it through eight years and here Robin is at like 24 or something.
They’ve been together since they were teens and they have such a beautiful family unit. I could see why she would want to overlook some pictures…
Plus, the highs and lows that they’ve had. They’ve had the highest of highs when Robin was driving around in a Bentley during Juan’s NBA days and then the lows of having to move back in with her parents. They’ve just experienced so many milestone moments. I do understand why Robyn goes to bat for him. If anything, hopefully, this was a wakeup call to Juan that he needs to be aware that he is a public figure and that his actions could be misinterpreted.
Speaking of history, you’ve spent 8 seasons with the Grand Dame herself, Karen Huger. How has your relationship evolved over time?
In theory, I think our relationship had potential, but we’re just so different. Sometimes, because she looks so good, I forget that Karen really is 60 years old. You know what I mean? I’m 35 years old, so there’s 25 years difference between us. As much as we have in common, we have very different life experiences. Karen’s from a different generation from mine, and over time, I’ve learned to respect that.
However, as Rayvin, Karen’s daughter, has gotten older, I feel Karen has started to see me a little differently, too. Now, she’ll share things with me that Rayvin taught her, and we’ll bond over that stuff now. Maybe the older I get, the younger Karen is getting, and, somehow, we’re meeting in the middle. [laughs] Give us another eight years and we’ll see where we’re at.
You are one of the youngest OGs in Real Housewives history. How does it feel to spend the majority of your really formidable years on a platform like this?
It’s a surreal feeling. If you had asked me when I first started where I would be in eight years, I would never in a million years have predicted that I’m a soon to be divorced mother of two young children. Back then, I was in la la land and just madly in love with Michael. We were opening this restaurant. Life was so great, and that all just crumbled down. Being on this show has been the greatest learning experience. I’m very thankful that I can look back on my life . Also, I’ve met the most incredible people. The people at BravoCon I’ve met, the moms I’ve met, the divorcees I’ve met…it’s been amazing. I’m a very lucky girl.