For eight seasons, Robyn Dixon and Gizelle Bryant have been pivotal to the success of the wildly popular reality series The Real Housewives of Potomac. In the months that led up to the premiere of Season 6, the two friends decided to come together on a new endeavor, venture into the podcasting space, and create the show Reasonably Shady.
Since its debut in 2021, Reasonably Shady on the Black Effect Podcast Network has garnered over 7 million total downloads, been nominated for an NAACP Image Award, and continues to be a top program in the Apple Podcast listings. On the heels of these accolades, Robyn and Gizelle spoke with ESSENCE about their experience as podcasters, their impact, and future goals for their brainchild.
It’s been such a blessing,” Dixon says. “And it is really a joy because we’re able to really show who we are outside of the cameras.” Bryant adds, “It kind of takes us away from the Potomac show space and allows us to just say all the nonsense that we say and just dig deep into our relationship and just have fun.”
Even after several years of The Real Housewives of Potomac—which began its eighth season on November 5—and almost 150 episodes of their podcast, Robyn and Gizelle still have so much to say. Listen up.
ESSENCE: So how are you guys feeling about the success thus far, and how does it feel to be considered veterans in the podcast space now?
Gizelle Bryant: Veterans? I mean, yes, we’re on our third season, which we’re very excited about, so I guess that kind of makes us veterans. Reasonably Shady was Robyn’s idea, and it kind of was birthed out of the pandemic. And she normally has great ideas so I was clear that this was going to be just the success that it has been.
And to be honest with you, it’s actually been a joy for us. It kind of takes us away from the Potomac show space and allows us to just say all the nonsense that we say and just dig deep into our relationship and just have fun. So it’s been a joy.
Robyn Dixon: And we honestly had no expectations in getting into the podcasting space just because we’ve never done it before. And we’re so grateful to the Black Effect for giving us a chance. I mean, honestly, they were such a young network and they took a chance on us, and so that meant so much to us because we didn’t have anything to show them to say, “Hey, this is what we’re capable of, or this is what we’ve done, or listened to our podcast.”They really took a chance on us, which means so much to us.
So our expectations were very basic and so to see the accomplishments we’ve made, how long we’ve been doing this, because it’s not easy. A lot of people – you can get into the game – It’s staying in the game which is the hard part. So just our longevity being veterans at this point, having a great audience base, and all of our accomplishments being nominated for an NAACP Image Award in the podcasting space. I mean, our expectations have been beyond surpassed.
Robyn, can you kind of expound on it for me, because Gizelle said it was your idea for the podcast. So tell me, what was the initial impetus for starting this, and what was that process like?
So during the pandemic, everybody was just home, bored, all of that. So Gizelle and I got on Instagram Live together, and neither one of us really spent a lot of time on Instagram Live. But all of our followers hopped on, and we were just talking about random stuff, and we were just having such a good time, and the followers were having a good time interacting with us and asking us random questions. And it just felt really good to be talking to each other about stuff that was not related to The Real Housewives of Potomac and having a good time and laughing and joking.
And that was just on top of the fact that Gizelle and I talk on the phone almost every day, and we talk about everything under the sun. So it was kind of like, “Wow, it would be fun to give our followers a little inside access to our conversations.” So the podcast really is conversations that we have on the phone every day.
This next question, actually, is for both of you ladies. So Robyn, you said that you and Gizelle, you guys speak almost every day on the phone, and y’all are friends and y’all are on a TV show together and everything. How have you both been able to navigate the friendship as well as the business partnership without losing one or the other?
I think that we have a high level of respect for one another, and it starts there. Robyn, listen, we’ve gotten along this far because Robyn handles the business, and I’m like, “Okay, whatever. Whatever you want, Robyn.” And I trust that great business decisions are going to be made if Robyn takes the lead. There’s some times where I might push back, but it really is just trusting each other and having respect for one another. I think those are the key elements to keep us on track because, yes, we do do a lot together.
Yeah. I think our personalities balance each other. Although yes, I might have the ideas, Gizelle is the one that can actually find the people to execute the ideas. So it’s like I might say, “Okay, well, we need to do this. What do you think about this?” And then she’ll say, “All right, you know what? I got some people. Let me call them. Let me make it happen.” And so I think that’s a really great balance of just working together.
We also understand each other’s personalities just from being friends and from being on the show together for so long. And I know that Gizelle is a taskmaster. It’s like, okay, if we say we’re going to do something, she wants it done yesterday. And then Gizelle knows that I’m laid back, I might drag my feet, but it’s going to get done. I don’t take things too seriously. So, understanding one another and our personalities is super key for anyone going into business together. You got to know what you’re dealing with before you decide to go into business with someone.
So with your podcast, I always thought that names and titles, they’re very important and they define what you guys are doing, too. So what does it mean to be Reasonably Shady?
Okay, once again, Robyn calls me up and she’s like, “Gizelle, I have the name for the podcast.” And I’m like, “What is it?” — Robyn can take it from there.
So, I was thinking of something that would incorporate both of our personalities, but also our friendship as a whole. And so typically, I’m a very reasonable person. I’m always trying to look at all sides to a story. I’m always trying to give someone the benefit of the doubt. I always look at people as humans and not being perfect, and I’m not quick to jump to conclusions. Gizelle, on the other hand…
Very shady. She’s jumping all the way to 100. You give her an inch, she’s going to take a mile, yeah. And this is how our conversations would go on the phone. She would say something and just go off the deep end, and then I’d be like, “Well, if you look at it this way, maybe not or did you think, or maybe they had a bad day, or maybe they already knew,” just whatever it might be.
For example, and I think I said this on the podcast with Will and Jada recently, Jada’s talking, running her mouth, running, running, running. And then I’m like, “Well, you know what? They’ve been together so long and they’re a family, for real. I feel like Will is actually aware that Jada has written all of this stuff, and he’s probably okay.” So a lot of people are mad at Jada for telling all their business, but I’m like, “Why haven’t we thought about the fact that he probably actually knows? And he’s probably okay, and he’s probably aware.”
So our personalities are just, that’s where the name came from. I’m reasonable. She’s shady. So together we are Reasonably Shady. But don’t get me wrong, I can be very shady as well.
Very, very. And I’m reasonable once a month.
Does it ever amaze you two, how invested people are in your lives and what you’re trying to do and your point of view and your perspective? How does that feel?
Actually, Robyn and I were just talking about that this morning. Sometimes it can be very strange and jarring, and then other times it’s great because of course we want as many people as possible to watch the show. I think we have over 7 million downloads on Reasonably Shady. So it’s always amazing that people are really listening and engaged.
Recently, my daughter left to go to college and I put up a post of the fact that I redid her entire room and I gutted it, and I’ll go to the post office and people ask me, “How’s your daughter’s room coming? How’s the renovation coming?” So it’s very sometimes weird, and it kind of takes me aback, but it’s a testament to, I guess, the fact that people like our dynamic and I’m like, “Wow, we’re doing something right.”
Yeah. Yeah, I mean, it really is an honor that people choose to spend their time listening to us and that they want to know what we’re saying and that they’re remembering what we’re saying and being invested in what we’re saying.
On the flip side, we do have a lot of haters who listen specifically to get us caught up in mess. So they’ll take a soundbite and say, “Oh, she said this,” and they’ll run with it, and you get headlines and it’s all out of context. Or if people don’t know our personalities, they’re getting upset. Or especially if we dare to say anything about anyone on our show that we might not be friends with, they’re taking that and making whole YouTube videos about it.
So on one hand, it’s very humbling. It’s a blessing. We love it that people are spending their precious time listening to us and caring about what we’re saying. Whether I’ve been on Potomac for eight seasons or Reasonably Shady for three years, it never gets old, and we never take it for granted.
I appreciate everybody for it. And I appreciate the haters, too, because they’re making people intrigued. They want to listen. They care about what we say.
Yeah. I’m like, “Come on, haters, come on.” If Robyn and I have gone a good month or so without getting dragged about something. I’m like, “What are we doing wrong?”
Right. Yeah. Like, “Wait a minute. We don’t have anyone trying to ruin our life this month?
So, the NAACP award nominations, traveling the country with live shows, the podcast growing in popularity… What’s next for the Reasonably Shady podcast and what are you guys’ goals for the future?
Well, we had kind of taken a break a little bit from our live shows, so we’re going to jump back into that in 2024, which I think our listeners will be really happy about. They always ask us to come to wherever they are locally, just to get an up close and personal look at Robyn and I, ask us questions, just be a part of the podcast. And I don’t know, what else do we have going on, Robyn?
Well, I mean, we have other projects that we’re trying to work on, so maybe we can bring Reasonably Shady to a live television format somehow.
We’re trying to push that. But also, yes, we’ve been doing this for three years, but we also recognize that we have a lot of room to grow with the podcast itself. So, for example, we don’t really have the video component like a lot of podcasters do, so we’re working on doing that. We’re working on just boosting our social media presence and engaging a little bit more with our fans. And so we recognize we have a lot of opportunity to grow the podcast and do other things with it and just to really keep our listeners engaged.