If you were given the opportunity to do reality TV, would you take it? In making your decision, you might think about your career, what parts of your life would be shown, or whether you'd regret not doing it. These were all things Johns Hopkins University professor and political commentator Dr. Wendy Osefo considered before she joined The Real Housewives of Potomac for its fifth season, which premieres August 2.
She's an unexpected addition. While many of the Housewives have their own — often very successful — careers, it's harder to picture a woman who tears down Fox News anchors and teaches students about the intersection of race and education joining the show. Not because she shouldn't or because she's too good for reality TV, but won't the academic and political worlds clutch their pearls?
"They were all like, I love that show!" Osefo tells Refinery29 over the phone of the moment she shared her new gig with her colleagues. "You look at professors and you look at politicos and you think these are serious people — which we are — highly educated, critical thinkers," but, she adds, "That's their profession, that's not necessarily who we are. At the end of the day, we all like to hang out with our friends. We all like to watch movies or go to dinner parties. That's what we do. And so what this has shown to me is that a lot of politicos and a lot of academics are Bravoholics."
"If no one goes on [Fox News] to challenge some of the thinking on that network, then viewers will just hear one side of the story."
Dr. Wendy Osefo
Still, Osefo did feel apprehensive about joining RHOP at first, but she followed the path that she always does. "Whether its being a political analyst or being a professor what guides me — my guiding light — is authenticity," the 36-year-old explains. She told herself, "As long as you continue to lead with authenticity you really don't have that much to worry about." Sounds pretty Housewife-y to me. They're all about speaking their truth... even when there are very dramatic, very entertaining consequences.
Osefo also didn't want to regret passing up the offer. "I said to myself, I don't want to look back on this years from now and say, What if? What would have happened if I took that opportunity? So I closed my eyes really tight and said 'yes.' And it has been an interesting journey, to say the least."
While we don't know much about what drama Osefo gets into during that journey — she's already nailed those textbook Bravolebrity deflection tactics — we know from the RHOP trailer that she gets into arguments with Ashley Darby. On top of that, the first episode teases some conflict with Grande Dame Karen Huger. In her confessional Huger says she knows of Osefo and she's "not impressed."
"I wasn't surprised to hear she said that," Osefo says.
We also know that Osefo is present for the altercation between Monique Samuels and Candiace Dillard Bassett that took place last fall. The women pressed charges against each other that were later dismissed. "It was an unfortunate event that happened between the two of them," Osefo, who is introduced as a friend of Bassett's, says. "I love both of them. I think both of them are great. It was an unfortunate incident and there’s so much more to this season than that."
Osefo is particularly looking forward to viewers getting a look at her family life and her career. She has three kids, the youngest of which was only a month old when production started. "I give myself a pat on the back for that," she says, "being a new mom and going through filming."
As for her work, Bravo fans got a taste of that during the Amplify Our Voices series in which she talked about defunding the police and the killing of George Floyd. "My life and my work has been rooted in speaking up for historically marginalized communities," Osefo says. "My life has been doing the work around ensuring that Black people are given equity."
She can also often be spotted as a commentator on Fox News as "the other side of the coin."
"I know that my political ideologies are different than a typical Fox News viewer, but I think it's really important for the ways in which I think and people who look like me to have a representation on all platforms," Osefo says. "Their network has one of the highest viewerships for a cable news network, if not the highest. So, if no one goes on the shows to challenge some of the thinking on that network, then viewers will just hear one side of the story. "
While Osefo may seem like a surprising addition to the Housewives franchise, the fact that she's devoted her life to speaking up — strongly —for what she believes in actually makes her the perfect fit. If you can argue with Fox News hosts, you can spar with Ashley Darby. If you can keep students interested in lectures, you might have a predilection for memorable lines. (We already got "Dr. Wendy. Address me correctly, sweetie!" in the trailer.)
In the words of her now-peer Lisa Rinna, Osefo's already been "owning it" on TV and beyond. Now, people are just going to see whether she makes for good reality TV.