Monique Samuels Gets Candid About Moving on From ‘RHOP’ With ‘Love & Marriage: DC’
After an unceremonious exit from The Real Housewives of the Potomac, Monique Samuels thought reality TV was forever in her rearview. That was until executive producer Carlos King pitched his vision for the ensemble cast of Love & Marriage: DC on OWN.
It took some soul searching, but the mother and businesswoman signed on to once again have cameras in the home she shares with her kids and husband, retired NFL player Chris Samuels. (Couples Erana and Jamie Tyler and Ashley Silva and Quick also open up their lives.) Here, Monique reveals what’s different this time around.
During the first episode of Love & Marriage: DC, you talked about having PTSD from reality TV. What made you want to come back to that environment?
It was a lot of behind-the-scenes [circumstances] and dealing with network and production that really gave me what I call PTSD. There was so much manipulation. I wanted to make sure if I ever did reality TV again, you’d be able to see the full picture and [I would] not be put into a “box.” It took me a bit to come up with the idea of yes. The first time Carlos King introduced the ensemble idea, I told him no. This was probably six or seven months after the last RHOP reunion aired. It was a journey to get to a point I would be comfortable again, but I felt comfortable with Carlos. I felt like he would make sure he told the story in a manner where you can see everything from beginning to end—the struggles but also the successes.
There are some heated moments, even in the first couple of episodes. Were there any points during filming where you were second-guessing the decision?
There is an upcoming episode where it does give me a flashback to a situation that had been in. I relived that stress. It only lasted for a second—I got myself together and was able to move forward. I wasn’t the person in the situation. Honestly, though, what I love about this cast is none of the drama you witness is contrived—even when it comes to my marriage.
We were going through a very tough time while we were filming. There was no way I could try to put on a face on everything being okay at that moment. I’m not going to stop being me. We’ll see how the season unfolds. One thing I love is that you’ll see so much growth. There are some moments I look back on that are cringe-worthy, but that was what I was going through at that particular time. I’m not afraid of judgment. People will see the light at the end of the tunnel after getting through the season.
You’re rewatching these scenes play out, so you have the benefit of being able to learn from a particular situation and how you reacted.
In order for me to be my most vulnerable self, I literally went in with the mindset that these sessions are going to be like therapy for me. These are conversations Chris and I have had over and over again for years. At this point in our marriage that [viewers are] witnessing, I feel I’m at a breaking point: I don’t need you to keep telling me I understand and that you’re working on it. I need to see that actual work. It has been 10 years of marriage, and a lot of our same issues kept repeating. What you see is a wife who is on edge. I look back on the episodes and see the realness, but also I could have delivered the message a lot better. You’ll see my husband and I navigate through that. There are some steps toward growth and change in our marriage.
Was it hard to get Chris on board for the show?
It was important we were on the same page. I do think once we started filming where Chris and I were in the rough patch, he was probably like, “I don’t know about this anymore,” though we were already signed on committed. I’m a person who will put it all out there. Chris is the opposite. That is what you also see, pulling words out of him.
You got to go to Africa. How was it sharing that experience?
Amazing. We went to Kenya and Tanzania for three weeks. I was a little nervous about being away from production for so long. Back in the day with Bravo, that would never fly. They would say you had to cancel your trip and reschedule it. With OWN, they were like, we’ll take whatever footage you get and show whatever you allow us to show. So many people only dream of being on that continent. It was life-changing. Every day I think about that experience.
Your story contrasts with the dynamics of the other couples. Overall, there’s a lot of relatability.
We are in different stages of life. We come together. I love that Jamie and Erana are almost back into their honeymoon phase. Chris and I are struggling to try to get back to that stage. Then you have Ashley and Quick where Quick is busy handling things and Ashley is like, “I’m tired of being in your shadow.” People can relate to every single storyline one way or another.
What can you tease about the rest of the season?
You’re going to see really heated moments coming up. It’s always interesting with cast members who are in this friendship circle or trying to become friends—there is a huge falling-out and me as the middle person, I don’t know if I’m making it better or worse! I don’t know how to bring everyone back together. I’m doing my best to honor everybody, and it is not easy. In the end, to see how it all concludes, you’re going to be completely shocked.
Love & Marriage: DC, Saturdays, 9/8c, OWN