First-season housewives always have it tough. If they’re lucky enough to survive their initial season, they may eventually become a fan favorite. Until recently, The Real Housewives of Potomac has been the sole Bravo franchise with four original cast members: Karen Huger, Ashley Darby, Gizelle Bryant and Robyn Dixon. Dixon confirmed on the April 15 episode of her Reasonably Shady podcast alongside her BFF Bryant that she’s been fired from the show after eight consecutive seasons.

Ihim came in hot. And instead of bonding with four-season housewife Wendy Osefo over their shared Nigerian culture, an immediate beef ensued, sparking conversation about cultural sensitivity and making viewers question if Ihim contrived the beef to solidify herself on the show. She’s denied the latter and claimed there were behind-the-scenes plots by Osefo to ice her out of the group. Some also wondered whether Ihim chummed up to the green-eyed bandits to be in with the cool clique, which she also said is false.

With the last part of the Season 8 reunion airing recently, Blavity’s Shadow and Act Unscripted spoke with Ihim about everything that transpired during the season and beyond.

So, first of all, congratulations on your first season. What made you want to join the franchise, especially since you entered a well-established show?

Nneka Ihim: I was new to the whole DMV area, and my husband and I have worked really hard in life, and we know that we have a great lifestyle, and we have an interesting dynamic. We’re a new couple. We’ve been married, at this point, almost three years. But at that time, we were just about to be hitting our two-year mark. I’m someone who’s been busy. I’m an entrepreneur, I’m a licensed attorney, I’m an aspiring mom, I’m a new wife. And I wanted to show that you can actually do and have it all. And I’m such a social person that I also wanted to make new friends and just be part of a new group.

What did you hope to showcase regarding your personal storyline during your inaugural season? 

NI: Me kind of getting acclimated with being in this DMV area. Also my husband and I, being a young couple trying to understand the quirks of our relationship, too, because I was living in LA for 10 years, and I only moved to the DMV area, the Maryland area, because of where my husband’s from. My husband moved to America at the age of 14, and when he moved here, his family resided in Maryland. So when we were dating, I knew all his family was here. His cousins, brothers, sister — everyone was here. So I knew when we were dating, when I was still in LA that I’d be moving here if our relationship ended up being serious, which it did. So I’m just getting used to the new dynamics. And also, my journey to motherhood — culturally speaking, it’s not something that we really showcase. And it’s not really something that people talk about often. So, I wanted to be completely honest and transparent with everyone and show who I am, show my life, and also show that I’m a hard worker, I’m a busy person, I have a lot of nice things, and we have a lot of luxuries in our life. But it takes work sometimes. And I can be a businesswoman, be a lawyer, be a wife and still enjoy, live, travel, shop and do all the good things.

You mentioned wanting to share your motherhood journey. It’s not something often culturally spoken about, which leads me to my next question because your biggest storyline was obviously your issues with Wendy. And it sparked a lot of conversation about the Nigerian community, religion and spirituality. Has there been any reaction from the Nigerian community directly to you about how the issue with Wendy played out on the show?

NI: Well, first and foremost, that was not my storyline. A lot of my real life and what I filmed and what the energy and the things [that] were going on in my life that I was brought on to show and invite the world to see kind of took a backseat because of that issue, but that by no means was my storyline. I am just really in a positive space, and I’m not really dwelling on the things that happened. I’ve moved forward. I’ve spoken to the people I need to speak to, and I’m just not entertaining the negativity of it all. 

But I will say that it’s a tragic and unfortunate situation that this was something that played on TV. That was not my intention. It wasn’t anyone’s intention. It was just the reality of reality TV and the fact that these things did happen, and that these calls were made, and we were in production. So, I was being transparent about my life and what was happening in my life, and that was something that occurred. And unfortunately, and understandably, it was not ideal.

Do you have any regrets about how things played out with Wendy? Seeing two Nigerian women on this platform ban together would have been cool.

NI: I was super excited to be joining a group where there was already a Nigerian, specifically an Igbo person. And I love my culture. I love my people. So that was something that was exciting. I wish things could have happened differently. I wish that the calls didn’t happen. I wish that perhaps she and I could have had a conversation prior to it being this whole blowup. But it is what it is at this point. 

How did you feel about the reunion? We are heading into its third part. Have any inroads been made between you and Wendy from the reunion? Where do you guys stand now, and do you regret your first season?

NI: I can’t talk much about the reunion because it hasn’t aired. I have been consistent, and I’ve been very honest. And when I sat down with her, I think you guys all saw that when I sat down with her, I apologized for my wrongdoing, and I take ownership of my wrongdoings. And I said that day, which is still true to this day, that I’m willing to kind of put everything to the side and have a different outlook and a different interaction and see what the vibe is there. I’ve moved on and past that. I’m always open to having a conversation and moving forward. I live in a space of grace. I give people grace, I receive grace, so that’s where I operate from. So I’m always open to reconciliation and moving forward.

A major area of contention in your relationship with Wendy, or lack thereof, was how the information was presented to her about whatever the conversation was, and that was presented through Ashley. Do you have any grievances with Ashley’s involvement in that entire thing, or do you feel it was just miscommunication?

NI: So I don’t think that’s where the issues were because that conversation with Ashley happened two weeks after phone calls had already been made. But I do think that the issue with Ashley was, again, tragic because it was untrue. And when you’re spewing untrue information that is so sensitive about a topic that you lack knowledge about, things are going to happen; negative things can happen. And I think that just added fuel to the fire and also led for conversations and explosive arguments that probably could have been avoided had that lie not been told.

Overall, do you feel you were represented to your liking in your first season? I know that first seasons can be tough. And it takes housewives more than one season to find their footing and get through to the audience. 

 NI: I think there was a lot more that was filmed that could have been shown. I don’t think it’s completely accurate. I guess, in my case, it would be a scenario where it would take multiple seasons to kind of develop or fully showcase myself and my life. But I don’t necessarily think that the true story of myself and my life and my husband and our journey and me being acclimated into this Potomac community was properly shown.

With that being said, if you do return for another season, what are you hoping to expand upon, and is there anything you will do differently? 

NI: My life is my life, and I still am an open book. I’m still a licensed attorney and making boss moves. I still have companies. I’m actually rebranding my company, Hello Africa. I’m really excited about it. And we’re gonna be doing really cool things in the Maryland area. And that’s something I want to showcase because it’s about community, and I’m really big on community. 

So, I think I also want to showcase my husband and I and our fertility journey, which was never really shown. There were some bits and pieces, but most importantly, my family, you guys didn’t really get to see the essence of who I am by seeing my mom and my dad and the rest of my siblings, and my husband and my husband’s siblings in our life, and really who we are. So I think just more outlining who I am as a real individual, aside from drama or things that are going on, just truly displaying my identity and our life and our lifestyle and our actions and all these things that we do — that wasn’t really shown.

Now let’s get into some of the things that have been going on with your other costars. So, since the reunion began airing, there have been announcements or speculations about what is happening with the rest of the cast. Candiace has announced that she’s not returning, and I know you two had a friendly relationship. How do you feel about her departure?

NI: I’m for doing what’s best for you. And Candiace is a very intelligent woman. So if she feels that she needs to take a pause from this to further her other ambitions, whether it’s her acting, or her music career, or even giving us a baby because she does have six embryos in the freezer. So if she wants to focus on putting them embryos in and her and Chris having a little beautiful baby, I’m all for that. I support people doing things for the betterment of themselves, and I think that’s a good decision for her if that’s what she needs.

Karen has held the grand dame title proudly. But there have been some things that transpired since the season ended and since the reunion began airing. Unfortunately, she found herself in a situation where she got a DUI. So, have you spoken to her since all of that happened? What is your relationship with Karen like?

NI: Karen and I have always been really good. We have a really playful relationship. And so this whole grand dame thing, even though the internet kind of took it in different directions, Karen and I have fun together, and we tease each other. So she understood what was up. I did reach out to her and make sure she was OK. I was genuinely concerned about her, and she did confirm that she’s all right. So that’s the first and most important thing … that she’s healthy and that she didn’t get severely injured. 

Another big conversation surrounding the reunion is that Juan Dixon decided to be absent once again. Being friends with Robyn, what was your take on that?

NI: People have to understand that Robyn really doesn’t care. She has her point of view. She has her marriage. She has their relationship. And they have an understanding. They know what they’re doing. They love each other. And so if she’s not bothered by him [not] being there, that’s their scenario. If it were me, I feel like my husband doesn’t have to answer the questions of everyone else. He needs to answer my questions. So, I don’t necessarily feel like he needs to [be] put on a platter for people to attack him. I’m the only one attacking him. God is the only one attacking him. Those are the commitments that he has to me and God. So I understand if she doesn’t feel like she wants to put him out there as a dartboard for people to be throwing darts at him. But it is good to have that support and know you’re not going in it alone. But whatever works for them. 

There’s also been a lot of conversation about your relationship with Robyn and Gizelle. Many believe you’ll be their next target because of how their other friendships ended on the show. But you recently spoke out in an interview and said that you don’t understand the viewers’ perspective and don’t share the same opinion about them. What makes you believe that your friendship with them may differ from some of the other ladies’ on the show?

NI: I like to judge things based on my own interactions. I don’t know if things will be different next season. And if they are, then I move how I see you moving. But as of right now, they have been very open. They’ve been receptive, they’ve been kind people, they’ve been legit friends. And that’s how I’m going to receive that relationship. Anything in the future could change with anybody. It could change with me. But right now, these women have shown me respect. I respected them back. 

I don’t understand necessarily why people believe that I am a puppet of them because it’s actually hilarious because in one of the episodes where Gizelle and Robyn opted not to go on Karen’s trip to Surry County, I still went. I chose on my own. And none of them went. If I were a puppet or any of those things, I would have been like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m not going.’

Are there any misconceptions about the two of them? Is there a different side to them that’s not being showcased on the show, and are they just getting a bad rep?

NI: I’ve never truly understood the hatred for them. And this is just from what I’ve seen on social media. And again, I honestly didn’t really watch the show like that. So I don’t really know what they’ve done that has upset people. But I know from what I’ve seen from being around them this season and how they dealt with people. And because of that, I don’t see a cause for alarm, especially with my relationship with them. 

Social media is a huge factor in why this show was so successful. There’s more that happens online than on the show at the time. How have you been able to ignore all of the social media chatter? 

NI: I focused on positivity. I’m a very positive person. I do like criticism because I feel like that helps you to become a better person and all of that. So I try to focus on criticism that’s constructive, but just negativity and hatred, I think, is just very disgusting. I understand you have the time for that because you could be improving yourself instead of insulting other people. But it’s really about surrounding yourself with positive people, taking time for your mental health, and your own self-care and self-love. But I’ve been warned by so many people at the inception of this project to stay offline. It’s such a crazy, hectic platform.