Garcelle Beauvais Makes 'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' History as First Black Cast Member

Illustration by Britt Spencer

"I would love to see more diversity in all areas. I think that's what the world should reflect: what's really happening."

Bravo's The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (RHOBH) reality show broke new ground in 2020 by casting Garcelle Beauvais, the first Black cast member in the series' 10-year history. "I would love to see more diversity in all areas. That's what the world should reflect: what's really happening." Beauvais says her Housewives castmates "recognized" the groundbreaking nature of her casting, but that at times she was frustrated with them for not inquiring about "what it's like being a Black woman in Hollywood or being a single parent or co-parenting in a multicultural relationship." But she adds "everybody was welcoming and thrilled that I was coming on." Even though it's set in glamorous Beverly Hills, Beauvais feels their stories are very universal. "We're actually running businesses and running households and raising children," just in a "grander form because it's Beverly Hills, it's more glamorous." And even though women are often underrepresented in scripted TV and movies, in reality they dominate, because "when you want a strong presence, a strong voice, women are who you go to."

After a successful acting career, why was RHOBH a natural next step for you?

It definitely wasn't a natural next step. Obviously, I've been a fan of the show, and I've watched over the years, and I'm friends with some of the ladies. I never really watched it thinking, "Oh, one day I want to be on there." I just watched it because it was entertaining. So when it came to me, my manager said, "We're gonna pass, I just want to let you know what comes to you." And I go, "Whoa, Whoa, wait a minute." I felt like why not try something new? I'm at a place in my life where I'm not scared about what the outcome could be or how it looks to other people.

Do you feel like you're breaking new ground as the first Black cast member on the show?

I came on the show being me, I can say that 100 percent. I didn't want to feel like I had to act in a certain way that showed me in a light that people look at us for, the "angry Black woman," the stereotypes that people put on us. I just wanted to be me. Bring my sass, my fun, my reality to the show and not take it on as I'm representing every Black woman in America.

How have some of your Hollywood peers reacted to your move to reality TV?

I've been in the industry for over 20 years. I've worked with the likes of Denzel Washington, incredible people. I have never gotten more attention than the announcement of being a Housewife [laughs]. Do you know how many people are closeted watchers? Big, huge, A-list celebrities. I was really surprised. Is this going to hurt my career doing reality? I think we live in a world now that you can't really box us in anymore. People really love this show and love this franchise. It's been fun to see the reaction from people that I did not expect.

What was it like teaming up again with Eddie Murphy for Coming to America 2?

It was really surreal to go from being at a fabulous party and laughing it up with women, and next thing you know I'm on a plane going to Atlanta and seeing Eddie [Murphy] and Arsenio [Hall] and Shari Headley and Vanessa Bell Calloway. It was really like time stood still. If someone would have said to us when we were shooting the original that some 30-odd years later, we would be back, no one would have believed it.