If there’s one thing you can count on “The Real Housewives of Potomac”’s Monique Samuels doing through any hurdle, it’s finding a positive outcome.
During the last year, that has meant channelling post-“RHOP” stress into her debut single, “Drag Queens,” using quarantine to tackle marriage woes with ex-footballer Chris Samuels, and flipping a “gut-wrenching” moment into a teachable one after her 7-year-old son, Christopher, made himself a bulletproof vest following George Floyd’s death.
It also means that when it comes to her highly-publicized alleged altercation with costar Candiace Dillard, the 36-year-old is openly recognizing her faults and moving forward feeling more in control of her actions.
“[Before] the incident, I didn’t realize I had triggers or what those triggers were, so I’ve definitely learned a great deal about myself,” Samuels tells ET Canada ahead of Sunday’s “RHOP” season five premiere on Slice at 9 p.m. ET. “No matter who’s in front of me challenging me, I now know how to walk away, and I’ll never have a person push me to that point again. I’m more in control because I know myself better now.”
Samuels was charged with second-degree assault following an alleged incident with Dillard in October. She filed a countersuit, reportedly claiming her actions were in self-defense, however, both cases were dropped by the state attorney’s office.
“The fight happened so fast,” Samuels says. “The energy wasn’t good in that moment. I like having boundaries and if I warn you to give me space, you need to do that. And, I am who I am whether there’s cameras around or not. I don’t try to entertain or show off because cameras are rolling. For those who use cameras to make themselves bigger or better, that’s when you have issues because it’s like, don’t do to me what you wouldn’t do to some random person at a bar without cameras. Don’t antagonize a person then [be] shocked at the aftermath.”
While viewers must wait until later this season to see the incident unfold, Samuels notes there’s also many great moments between the housewives coming up on the Bravo series, including a “bonding” mini-vacation during which everyone “stepped outside their comfort zones.”
“It felt like we were finally on the same page,” she says. “Everyone showed a deeper level of who they are this season. You’ll see us all struggle with relationships, family, business, friendship.”
Viewers get a glimpse of Samuels’ struggles during a disagreement with Chris shown in the trailer. Although the two, who wed in 2012, have always believed in marriage counselling, quarantine pushed issues further to the surface, prompting virtual weekly sessions with Samuels’ therapist.
“Sometimes you tolerate things because it’s not in your face every day, but now we’re constantly home, it became like a competition of who’s doing the most or enough for the kids – which was counterproductive,” Samuels explains. “We had to get to that point of, ‘If you’re good at doing dishes, you do that, while I make the kids’ food.’ We divvied out roles, so that neither of us is running with the kids all day while the other sits on the couch or computer.”
“We faced things head-on that have always been issues – something as simple as how my take on affection is cuddling, whereas my husband might think it’s sitting on the couch watching TV together,” she continues.
While 2020 has tested many couples, parenting during global unrest is also a challenge. Samuels faced a particularly-tough scenario when she found young Christopher making a bulletproof vest. Asked why, he responded, “In case they try to shoot me,” in reference to the “bad cops” whose actions lead to Floyd’s death and helped spark the Black Lives Matter movement. In that “scary” moment, Samuels felt the pangs of worry she’s lived with since becoming a mother.
“I felt the same feeling when I gave birth – thinking, ‘Whoa, I have to do everything on earth to protect this little boy,’” says Samuels, who also has a 5-year-old daughter, Milani, and 1-year-old son, Chase. “He got complimented so much when he was [a baby] and I thought, ‘What happens when he’s not small and cute anymore? When he’s a teenager?’ Protecting him as a Black child has always been something I’ve thought about, so when he made that vest, it gut-punched me.”
Eager to find a positive lesson in the heart-wrenching moment, Samuels suggested that instead of using the vest to protect himself, Christopher could pretend he’s wearing it as a good cop who’s teaching bad cops how to be good. The idea switched his fear-driven motivation into excitement. “He’s only 7-years-old and for him to have to discuss these things sucks, but it’s necessary conversation,” Samuels says. “I’m happy he was able to see a positive side.”
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I wish I would have documented the entire process of my 7 year old from the moment he started making his bulletproof vest. I didn’t even realize he was paying attention to the news. Instead of discouraging him from creating this “work of art” I decided to have a talk with him and try turn a negative into a positive. His final touch was to add “Police” to the front of it so he can show the bad cops how to be good. It’s important for me as a parent to investigate how everything going on in the world is affecting the little minds of my babies. They feel our stress and worry. I hate how this is affecting our children. I’ve always worried from the moment I gave birth to my now 7 year old son. How do I make him feel safe? How do I raise him to be aware but not afraid? Being a parent is not easy. Being a black parent with black children is even harder. I pray that change happens swiftly and maybe one day the worry I’ve always had as a black mom will not be the worry my children have when they become parents.
Likewise, Samuels turned things around when her children started having nightmares about the coronavirus. “They [were] stressed out,’” she shares. “So, we had an open conversation about their thoughts then started doing family meditation before bed. While they sleep, we also play meditation music. It worked – they’ve been much happier and are having good dreams!”
The family have been spending quarantine enjoying bike rides and basketball games, and Samuels is also pursuing personal projects like her upcoming book, Potty Training Mommy and Daddy, a guide to beginning toilet-training babies at 6-months-old. The book’s based on her experience, which saw Christopher fully-trained by 18-months and Milani by the age of one. “Chase is taking his time!” she laughs.
Samuels also used quarantine to release “Drag Queens,” under stage name, Hazel.
“It’s an anthem reminding me who I am, what I stand for and how regardless of what anybody says about me, I know me,” she says of the track, which features Chris. “Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness – if you disrespect me, I won’t stand for that. The song’s my way of putting that into the universe. It allowed me to put everything I dealt with last season behind me. For months, I was pent-up with stress, then was able to write something that was positive for me… with a splash of shade in the title!”
The title stemmed from a “RHOP” episode, in which Samuels told Dillard, “I’ll drag you, pregnant and all,” prompting a viewer to declare Samuels the “queen of drag.” However, she says the lyrics aren’t aimed at anyone specific.
“There are parts where I’m talking about our [“RHOP”] circle – pointing out if you come at me crazy, don’t be surprised when I come back at you. But that can [apply] to anyone in my life,” she says. “If you feel it’s directed at you, that’s your own guilty conscience. Everyone [thinks it’s about] one person, but that wasn’t my intention. The majority of the song’s about me and how I always show up present and ready to slay, and my voice is going to be heard.”