The ‘Real Housewives’ Star Whose ‘Evil Plan Is Working’ (2023)

In June, the popular comedy podcast Las Culturistas, hosted by Saturday Night Live’s Bowen Yang and I Love That For You’s Matt Rogers, held its first-ever Las Culturistas Culture Awards at New York City’s Lincoln Center. Among the evening’s distinguished guests were two esteemed musicians, who both accepted their awards via pre-recorded videos.

The first was none other than Grammy-winning superstar Taylor Swift, who took home two awards. And the other was Real Housewives of Potomac star Candiace Dillard Bassett, accepting Best Song for her single “Drive Back,” which was heavily featured on the Bravo reality show’s sixth season. The ceremony also ended with a singalong of the catchy R&B track, which, according to Vulture, most of the audience seemed familiar with.

It’s rare that a Real Housewife-turned-songstress is honored among the likes of Taylor Swift, despite the overlap in fanbases. However, it speaks to the talent and standout quality of Dillard Bassett, who performs under the all-caps mononym CANDIACE. Unlike some of her network colleagues, the budding musician, who released her debut album Deep Space in 2021, has managed to overcome some of the notions associated with Bravo stars who attempt singing careers (mainly, that their musical endeavors are solely for a storyline and that they don’t have any real talent).

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In addition to exceeding viewers’ expectations as an artist, Dillard Bassett has also become one of the most well-known and polarizing figures in the Bravo-sphere, thanks to her witty confessionals, blistering shade, and frequent emotional outbursts that, of course, require her now-famous triangularly folded tissue.

Last season of RHOP, in particular, found the 35-year-old weathering a ton of criticism (and support, depending on who you follow) on social media for the way she engaged in arguments with equally contentious newcomer Mia Thornton. Since joining the show during its third season, the former pageant queen has proved she’s not afraid to take on her fellow Housewives and even her family members in a good ol’ war of words. Unfortunately, her beefs have historically escalated to physical territory, most notably during a hair-pulling fight with ex-housewife Monique Samuels at a winery, and a famous argument over dinner that prompted her to wave a butter knife. (The latter was obviously funnier, less violent, and, some might say, even iconic).

In Season 7, premiering Oct. 9, she finds a new adversary in resident pot-stirrer Gizelle Bryant, who implies in the trailer that Dillard Bassett’s husband tried to initiate inappropriate behavior with her. Still, Dillard Bassett claims she was mentally consumed by other projects throughout the majority of the season. Meanwhile, outside of the show, the R&B singer is set to embark on her first-ever headlining tour hosted by City Winery later in October.

(Video) Candiace Calls Out Ashley & Gizelle Explores Her Ancestry In New Orleans | RHOP Highlights (S4 E5)

Below, Dillard Bassett speaks to The Daily Beast about this season of Potomac’s upcoming drama, colorism among the fanbase, and being taken seriously as a musical artist.

You’ve had a lot of intense conflicts in your time on the show. How would you compare filming Season 7 to your previous experiences?

You know what’s funny? This season, I feel like I was tired. I kind of feel like I was a little checked out. And maybe that had something to do with the fact that I was working on so many other projects. At the same time, I shot an entire scripted series. I was working on the re-release of my album, Deep Space: The Deluxe Edition. I was going through my egg-freezing process. So there were a lot of really deeply personal things that were happening with me that just made some of the petty drama that can sometimes take place in our group feel more obsolete than normal. And so, you know, I kind of feel like I was on a yoga mat for a lot of the season. Because of sheer circumstance, I just could not be checked in and involved in what felt like petty—I mean, you will see me cuss a few people out. That’s never going to go away. But I think I was definitely more distracted.

Well, one conflict it seems like you didn’t have to worry about was your relationship with Ashley Darby, who’s been your frenemy since you joined the show. How did you all fare this season?

It’s very hot and cold. All the time. And for reasons that are always lost on me. But I joke. I’ve decided that we’re hot and cold because Ashley just can’t take me. I can’t be buttoned down or pinned down or figured out if you will. And she can’t take it. But yes, you do see us sitting at a table [in the trailer]. That’s my table in my house. It’s my breakfast nook. And we had a really nice kiki, a few nice kikis that were nice for the time. And then dot, dot, dot.

How are you and Mia this season?

Mia and I had some tumult last season. You know what is funny? Mia and I share the Sagittarius zodiac. And so I can say this as someone who kind of fits in her shoes in a lot of ways. I think that Mia is somewhat misunderstood, which is a title that I have involuntarily donned my entire tenure. And I think that she panders to people that she thinks she needs approval from, when she could really stand on her own and be a force if she just owned 100 percent of who she was. She’s a resilient woman. She’s a powerful woman. She is a smart woman, very business savvy. She has a lot of qualities that I think some of the people that she thinks she needs approval from couldn’t dig up on their best day. She’s allowed herself to be, this season, consumed by a need for approval. And it was disappointing to watch her.

We kind of come to an understanding place. I was very disappointed with the way that she handled herself with Wendy [Osefo]. But her and I personally come to an understanding place, which I was happy about because I realized that I was misunderstanding her. And I think she realized the same thing about me.

You mentioned her castmate Wendy, who’s probably been the biggest ally you’ve had on the show. You two also share the experience of being the only dark-skinned women in the cast. And you both recently tweeted about the colorism you’ve witnessed from the fanbase. Can you talk a little more about that?

I think that there’s a clear misunderstanding that happens with Wendy and myself that some of our lighter-skinned counterparts just simply don’t have to deal with. And when I first joined this cast and would get into whatever disagreement with my cast, my first inclination was not to go right to colorism. I didn’t want to believe that right away. But it just became so clear when the audience wants to vilify me. And let’s say someone like Ashley is responding or reacting in a very similar way. Somehow, when I do it, it’s aggressive. And when Ashley does it, it’s, you know…

When I first joined this cast and would get into whatever disagreement, my first inclination was not to go right to colorism. I didn’t want to believe that right away. But it just became so clear when the audience wants to vilify me.

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She’s praised for being messy.

Yes, she’s praised for being messy. And I am maligned and banished to the basement. And it seems to only apply to me or when Wendy gets upset. And I will be clear in saying that I believe that most of the colorism that we experience comes from an audience space. I don’t believe that my cast is purposely or willingly wielding any power against us. I do believe that, as a person who benefits from colorism, it is that person’s job to call it out and to make it plain and to not allow it to consume or take over a sacred space. Using buzzwords, like “you’re being aggressive,” is clearly a dog whistle.

One of the big bombshells we see in the trailer is Gizelle implying that your husband, Chris, tried to flirt with her or did something that made her feel uncomfortable. Ashley’s husband, Michael, has always been the one accused of improprieties throughout the series. How did it feel to have similar claims made about your husband?

Well, it was obviously a very hurtful time and shock to myself and Chris, given that Gizelle has been around myself and my husband, in many different scenarios, in our homes, in private spaces. She’s been around our children. I’ve been around her children. I let her daughter move my car. And Gizelle has been very flirtatious with my husband in front of me on more than one occasion. And it was never something that was a bother to me. I just viewed it as musings of a lonely 50-year-old woman who needed somewhere to put her excess flirtatious energy. And Chris took it the same way. So for this to now be her storyline—and I am saying it just like that—for this to be the storyline that she chooses to run with this year, it’s tired.

My question to her would be, when is it going to be enough? When are you just going to bring yourself to a season of the show versus projecting and creating drama that doesn’t exist with other people’s families and other people’s husbands? It’s predictable at this point.

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On a non-Housewives note, could you tell me about your upcoming tour with City Winery, what you have planned, what the vibe is going to be like?

The Deep Space Tour is a five-city tour. We’re going to Philly, Chicago, Nashville, Atlanta, and we’ll conclude in D.C. For me, this tour is my introduction. It’s my first time going on tour. We have an actual tour bus. We got dancers. We have a band. We have choreographers. We got management. My husband will be accompanying us on the tour as well. So it’s a whole shebang.

Is Chris still your “husband-ger?” I know that was a point of contention between the two of you and the rest of the cast last season.

Chris was never my manager. He was holding a place for the person that is now actually managing my career and music through my entertainment career as a whole. I love names and titles and being funny with words. And I called him my “husband-ger” because, even in our regular everyday life in our marriage, Chris is the one that… like, this morning, he brought the ring light upstairs so that when I’m doing press throughout the day on Zoom, I have my ring light. He reminds me, “You have this thing on the calendar. You need to get up and be ready for this thing.” He is supportive beyond what a lot of husbands could even pretend to do. But he was literally just keeping me afloat until the Lord could send me a proper manager, which I do have.

You’re one of the few Bravo stars whose music people take seriously and don’t just treat as a gimmick or a joke. Do you feel like you’re being embraced by R&B listeners, or do you still feel that Housewives stigma?

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Well, one of my greatest fears in using this platform to launch a music career was that I wouldn’t be seen as just, “Oh, here’s another Housewife doing music. Next caller.” And because of that, I feel like I have been very strategic and tried to be very careful about the way that I’ve rolled out every aspect of my brand, as an artist, as a recording artist, as a performer. I really worked hard with my amazing team to make sure that I am taken seriously. Because it is really important to me. And I do think that I am shocking people. People come up to me and tell me, “I didn’t think that you could really sing when I heard that you were releasing a song. You can really sing. You can really perform.” And I’ve heard that enough over the last year to start to feel like, “OK, I am doing it right.” I have more to prove. And I have to continue to fight to secure my place as a real artist. But I do take pride and have some solace in knowing that my evil plan is working.


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