If you’ve never heard of Potomac, then let us paint a picture for you.
The exclusive suburb in Maryland sits just outside Washington D.C. in the United States and is considered one of the most affluent African-American communities in the country.
It’s so exclusive that not much is known about the area… that is until The Real Housewives of Potomac premiered in 2016 and put it on the map. And you better believe the show makes the drama 22km away in Capitol Hill pale in comparison.
RHOP star Ashley Darby has appeared on the show since day one. Over the last four seasons, the 32-year-old has suffered highs, lows and everything in between — the search for her biological father turned into heartbreak; her co-star Candiace Dillard threatened her with a butter knife during a heated conversation; she and Aussie husband Michael Darby, 61, suffered a devastating miscarriage; the couple’s Aussie-themed restaurant, Oz, shut down; and, most recently, her marriage was tested when Michael had to fight and was eventually cleared of sexual misconduct claims.
See? US congress ain’t got nothing on RHOP.
“I shouldn’t be on this platform if I’m not willing to be open,” Ashley tells 9Honey Celebrity on why she allows cameras to film her most intimate moments. “When I signed on, I had an idea of what it would be and even though I’ve learnt a lot on the journey, the underlying thing is I’m true to myself.
“What a lot of people don’t realise, in the franchise and in general, is your true colours will always come out. So it’s just better to be ahead of it and let that freak flag fly.”
Ashley and her co-stars, Candiace, Karen Huger, Gizelle Bryant, Robyn Dixon and Monique Samuels, kick off Season 5 on August 3 and it promises to be just as explosive as the last. And just when Ashley and Michael get their six-year marriage back on track, along comes a curveball.
In the trailer for the new season, the couple’s marriage appears to be tested once again with accusations that Melbourne-born Michael was in a hotel room “with several strippers”. Just last season, Michael was accused of sexual misconduct when a cameraman claimed the former restaurateur groped his bottom during filming. The Aussie star denied any wrongdoing and the case was ultimately dropped.
“Having lived it and experienced it, it was a very torrential time — there is a downpour of all sorts of things,” Ashley says, when asked about the past and present accusations. “But I will say my husband is a really strong person, I’m a really strong person, and just because someone tries to knock us down, doesn’t mean they are going to succeed. So that’s not to say we’re not going to keep coming back. We’re the Darbys and we’re here to stay.”
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The other major talking point this season is the on-camera physical altercation between Monique, 36, and Candiace, 33. The ladies shocked their co-stars when they came to blows at a dinner party, with Candiace quickly filing assault charges and Monique counter-filing with claims of self-defense. Both cases have since been dismissed by the Maryland state attorney’s office.
“Whatever happened with Monique making this mistake and what it was, that to me is not a whole demonstration of her character. And, quite frankly, I support her and I have her back in all this,” says Ashley. “She’s really strong lady, and she’s going to pull through just fine. And if she needs me, she knows I’m always here.”
One person Ashley won’t be rolling out the red carpet for is newcomer Dr Wendy Osefo, who is shown sharing a heated exchange with the star in the trailer.
“Wendy needs to earn her stripes in some way,” says Ashley. “She just felt the need to come for me, but I think Wendy learnt very quickly that I’m not going to back down. And if it’s a scratch she’s looking for, it’s a scratch she’s going to get.
“When I first came into the group, a lot of the women were a little judgemental and they didn’t quite understand me. It wasn’t necessarily that I was argumentative, but I was just defending who I am when everyone had a really strong opinion about me. And that’s where Wendy and I were a little bit different.”
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For now, Ashley is focusing on her first child with Michael, a baby boy they named Dean Michael. The tiny tot just turned one last month but already he’s proving to be a pro with the Aussie lingo.
“It’s important to me for him to understand everything about his culture. He’s going to know the Black side of his culture, he’s going to know the Australian side,” says the new mum.
“Dean is going to be a very interesting young man because he’s going to have a lot of sayings. One of the things Michael’s working on is already teaching him some Australian sayings. So he’s gonna have those down pat by the time he’s two.”
The Real Housewives of Potomac Season 5 premieres August 3 on hayu.