No “Real Housewives” show has featured two women of color in a single season
Photo credit: Bravo
Bravo revealed the cast of its upcoming “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” — and it’s the most diverse in the franchise history, including the first housewife of Polynesian heritage.
The six women featured are Lisa Barlow, Mary Cosby, Heather Gay, Meredith Marks, Whitney Rose and Jen Shah. The show premieres Nov. 11.
Cosby is Black, while Shah is of Polynesian heritage. They come from different religious backgrounds as well: Cosby is Pentecostal, Barlow is “Jewish by heritage and Mormon by choice,” and Marks is Jewish. Rose and Shah have left the Mormon church, with Shah converting to Islam.
None of the other cities is as diverse. “New York” has zero women of color (in its 12 seasons, it’s only featured one woman of color, Jules Wainstein, whose mother is Japanese and father Ashkenazi Jew); “Atlanta” and “Potomac” are predominantly Black (original “Atlanta” housewife Kim Zolciak was the only white cast member, while Lisa Wu-Hartwell is half-black/half-Asian); and “New Jersey’s” Jennifer Aydin is of Turkish heritage.
“Orange County” features one housewife of color — Kelly Dodd, who identifies as Mexican. “Dallas” housewife Kary Brittingham is also of Mexican heritage. And “Beverly Hills” introduced it’s very first Black housewife — Garcelle Beauvais — in the tenth season that is currently airing. (Joyce Giraud, who is Puerto Rican, appeared in Season 4.)
Executive producer Andy Cohen said that they are addressing the diversity issue in the upcoming season of “New York.”
“We’re working on next season,” Cohen told Us Weekly in August amid reports a woman of color would join the Big Apple bunch. “I’m excited for what we have planned.”
Cast member Leah McSweeney told Page Six, “I hope that there’s not only diversity of race but an even deeper diversity of where someone lives or what their interests are. I hope that there’s just more diversity all across the board because New Yorkers are not a monolith, obviously. I think that it is gonna head in that direction.”
Former NYC cast member Bethenny Frankel — who helped McSweeny get on the show — called for more diversity years ago. “I’d like to see an African-American woman on the show. I suggested someone who didn’t work out. There are really no Jewish women in the cast. There are also no Asian, Latino or gay women on the show,” Frankel said in a 2017 interview. “I’d like it to represent New York more.”
The now-canceled “Real Housewives of Miami” featured a mix of white and Latin cast members. Other Bravo shows, including “Shahs of Sunset” and “Family Karma,” focus on Persian and Indian communities, respectively. However, “Housewives”-adjacent shows like “Vanderpump Rules” and “Don’t Be Tardy” — which stars the aforementioned Zolciak — have also been criticized for their lack of diversity.
Check out the trailer for “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” below.
(Editors note: Peggy Sulahain — who is Armenian American — appeared opposite Dodd in Season 12 of “Orange County.” Because Armenians are considered a white ethnicity in the United States, she is not considered a person of color for this article.)
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