Monique Samuels Talks New Bindertime Stories Series, Exiting The Real Housewives Of Potomac, And More – Exclusive Interview
Monique Samuels is a familiar face to viewers of Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Potomac,” joining the show in the its second season. However, after Samuels had major drama fellow Housewife Charrisse Jackson Jordan and an epic feud with Candiace Dillard, she announced her exit from “RHOP” in 2020.
Samuels is now focusing on her new essential oil business, Mila Eve Essentials, while taking a look back at her years on “RHOP” in her new three-part YouTube series, “Bindertime Stories.” The new series was inspired by the infamous binder full of receipts that Samuels brought to the “RHOP” Season 5 reunion; since she wasn’t able to divulge its contents during the reunion, instead she’s spilling all the tea in “Bindertime Stories.” In an exclusive interview with Nicki Swift, Samuels opens up about her new series, her expanding business, the “trauma” she experienced from “The Real Housewives of Potomac” and much more.
Monique Samuels’ “Bindertime Stories” can be seen on her “Tea with Monique” YouTube channel. Find out more info about Mila Eve Essentials right here.
Monique Samuels brings all her Real Housewives receipts to Bindertime Stories
I wanted to start off by asking you a bit about “Bindertime Stories” and where you got the idea to do that.
Oh, my gosh. So “Bindertime Stories” came because the fans of the show who watched the reunion, they kept asking for the receipts. They wanted to see the binder. And I’m like, “You all, I’m messy, but I’m not that messy.” So let me figure out a way where I can creatively deliver a little tea without getting sued. And that’s how “Bindertime Stories” came about.
It was my creative way to just put a pencil to the pad and just be done with the whole traumatic experience that I’ve been involved in over the past four years, and just to give people a little taste of some of the receipts that I did have in the binder as well. I’m a creative person. I love to write a good song, a good rhyme. So I just turned it into this riddle where people have to crack the riddle and figure it out themselves.
What kind of response have you received from the episodes that have been released already?
It’s been really good, and we released part one and part two. Everyone wants to know, “When is part three coming?” So I’m letting everybody know it’s coming. I’ve been so busy with my essential oils company, Mila Eve Essentials, that I’ve not had time to get with my editor and finish the process. He ended up getting into a car accident and it’s a lot of craziness been happening. He’s OK. But I had to wait for him to get his car situation together and then we’ll get back. Because we edit it together in person so it’s a whole process, but it’s coming and I’m really excited about it.
Part three is definitely the best out of all the parts. Everybody loves it so far who’s been watching it on YouTube. I mean, between the two videos, we’re over 50,000 views. So it’s been really good and a lot of positive feedback from people who love riddles. So it’s been fun.
Now, have you heard anything from any of the other Housewives about it?
No. Not at all. I guess if they reach out, they’ll be snitching on themselves, so not at all. It’s been quiet as a mouse.
Do you keep in touch with any of them at this point?
Yes. Yeah. No, I definitely keep in touch with Karen [Huger] and Ashley [Darby]. So they’re the only two that I actually stay in touch with. Everything’s been good as far as I’m concerned with them.
The real reason Monique Samuels left The Real Housewives of Potomac
Fans were kind of shook when you said that you weren’t going to be coming back to “The Real Housewives of Potomac.” What led you to decide that you were done with that experience?
Oh, man. Witnessing the unfairness. I mean, it’s different when you’re fighting the women on the show, but when you get to having odds and it’s very clear and evident with the network and production, that’s when it’s time to go. And for me, I just didn’t like how everything was very one-sided with the editing and everything else at the conclusion of the reunion.
I think what really turned me off was just the idea that they tried to flip a whole situation that involved my child and try to make it seem as if my husband and I would want to bring this as a storyline for their show. They didn’t expose the people who really were behind the scenes, plotting during the off-season when they’re not even being paid; plotting and planning things and just very negative and ugly. When they only wanted to show my husband and I’s response and not show evidence that was clear to everything that we had been talking about, I was like, “You know what? I don’t have time for this.”
They are doing what they feel … is needed to make their show run and to do whatever they need to do for the sake of the show. I’m going to do what I feel is needed for the sake of my sanity and for my family.
We’ve heard a lot of stories over the years about how these shows tend to manufacture drama when it’s not really there. Was that the experience that you encountered?
It’s not that they manufactured drama that wasn’t there. It’s just that there are actual villains on this show, but they try to make the people who are actually the victims be the villain. It’s like they flip everything to tell whatever story it is that they want to tell and paint whatever picture that they want to paint. And then when it comes down to it, when they realize, “Whoa, there’s two or three of these people that really need to go down and people really need to know what’s really happening,” they would much rather protect those people than expose them. So it’s like they pick and choose who they want to wear that badge of a villain.
Monique Samuels explains why she doesn't see herself returning to RHOP
Now, a lot of women have left the “Real Housewives” franchise over the years and then come back. There is a bit of a revolving door. Do you ever foresee the chance that you might return at some point?
Not at all.
I’m done. And obviously, just being gone for so long, these few months of not filming. I mean the last time I filmed outside of the reunion was in 2019 when you really think about the dates. It aired in 2020. I’m so far removed from that whole process. You really don’t realize how stressful it is until you’ve removed yourself from it. Then you start to see, and you’re like, “Whoa, I was dealing with all of that? For what? I don’t need it. I don’t want it. I’m done.”
I mean, I feel good about my decision. I’m very happy with it. I don’t mind talking about it. It’s four years of my life that I dedicated to that show. So I’m fine talking about it, but I do not want to be a part of it in any respect anymore.
How Monique Samuels came to launch her essential oils business
I wanted to ask you about your Mila Eve Essentials line of essential oils. How did that business spring up? Was it something that you’d been working on for quite a while?
Actually, I love essential oils. I’m an avid user. People who have watched me over the years on [“The Real Housewives of Potomac”] have seen me using essential oils. People would message me and they would say, “Hey, I want to get your oils.” And I’m like, “I don’t have any oils, but I can refer you some of the ones that I like.” And they’re like, “No, I want to buy your oils.” That kept happening.
And then I began to see that the market was becoming very flooded with essential oils that were not healthy. They’re full of chemicals. So I said, “You know what? Now I’m getting nervous that the people who I’ve been telling about essential oils are going to buy essential oils that aren’t good for them. And then they’re going to have a negative experience.” So it kind of pushed me into it. And I’m glad I did. It’s been very successful.
I did a soft launch [on] December 15th. I actually launched a store in full on January 1st. I’m telling you, I’ve not had a slow day. It has been truly amazing. The people who are actually using the essential oils, they love the products. They’re sharing their testimonies and their reviews and they’re enjoying all of the benefits. So it’s been really a blessing for me. I really enjoy it. I love seeing that people are getting really excited about something that’s so near and dear to me.
The amazing discovery that made Monique Samuels a believer in essential oils
Now, how did you first get into essential oils in the first place? Was it something that somebody introduced you to?
Oh my goodness. So my oldest son, he had the worst sinus issues because we were living in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Anyone who’s familiar with that area, they know it’s in the valley, so all of the pollen and dust settles there. He had the worst time. I would take him to the doctor and he kept wanting to give him an antibiotic. And I’m like, “No, he’s so young. I don’t really feel comfortable doing that. There has to be another way.” It started affecting his sleep, his mood. A cranky baby who wasn’t getting proper sleep is going to be a nightmare.
So I started researching online. What are some natural ways to help with sleep and sinus issues? And I saw these different articles talking about essential oils. So I said, “You know what, I’m going to give it a try.” I started out using them in a diffuser. But I started diffusing essential oils. And the first night that I diffused for him, I used eucalyptus, lavender, and peppermint. I put it in the diffuser. I let it run while he slept.
He didn’t move. He was so knocked out. He wasn’t snoring. He wasn’t breathing loud. He wasn’t mouth-breathing. He was breathing completely sound and clear, and I could not believe it. I had to keep checking to make sure he was still breathing. That’s how still he was. And as a mom, I wasn’t used to that, because he was such a wild sleeper. And that’s when it changed the game for me. It was out of desperation just wanting my son to get relief. Lo and behold, essential oils. And that, from there, was the beginning.
Wow. Now, what are some other benefits that people can experience from the oils?
Oh, man. So many. They improve your attitude. They improve your mood. There are essential oils that can help boost your appetite or suppress your appetite, weight loss. People who want to use oils for their skin for just having that flawless skin, sleep, everything, boosting your energy, your libido. There’s literally an oil for everything except for blocking haters. That’s what I say. We need to come up with something that has a stench that will just keep people who hate away. But there’s an oil for everything. I absolutely enjoy them.
The popularity of her parrot T'Challa continues to soar
I also wanted to ask you about T’Challa. Has becoming a social media influencer gone to his head?
Oh, I believe so. Every time you put a phone or camera in front of him, he’s giving you a little side-eye. He has this thing down pat. He’s so friendly, which is not actually common for African gray parrots. Usually, they are only friendly with one person and they won’t fool with anybody else. But he’s so well-socialized. I mean, I have friends who come over and they’re like, “Can I get a picture with T’Challa?” He’ll sit right on their shoulder and he’ll turn. He’ll give you all the good angles. He’s hilarious. That bird is hilarious, like, that’s my baby.
He’s developed quite a fan base too, from what I’ve seen on his Instagram account.
He has. He has a store and people love to buy his merchandise. He has sweatshirts, t-shirts, mugs. I’m telling you, he was getting more action in his store than my Not For Lazy Moms store when that launched, I’m like, “Oh, I invested into the wrong thing.” People love T’Challa.
Being a Real Housewife wasn't all bad for Monique Samuels
Getting back to the “Housewives,” you mentioned the negative experiences you’ve had. What about any positive experiences you’ve had from being part of the franchise? Can you talk a bit about that?
Oh, absolutely. One of the biggest reasons I even joined was for the platform, and the platform has been amazing. To be able to take my Not For Lazy Moms parenting, which started as a parenting Facebook page, now has turned into a website that has helped a lot of people. We have a YouTube channel and we have a podcast. It’s been amazing to just watch it grow. So the platform has been great.
I also love the fact that people were able to witness some of my most precious moments with my family, even my pregnancy when I had Chase, to be able to experience that and share that with people. When I suffered a miscarriage, it really allowed me to express how that truly felt, the pain that I felt going through that — then realizing that so many women out there have gone through that and can relate, and we just don’t talk about it. So it’s been a very eye-opening experience.
I feel like it’s helped my family in more ways than it’s hurt my family. It definitely helped me and my husband even get back into the dating scene. I remember before we started, you go through those moments when you’re having children, you’re married, and you’re just being parents. You’re not really putting any emphasis on each other and really trying to date. The show, with all of the filming that was involved, it really got my husband and I out the house. It allowed us to see, like, “Whoa, I didn’t even realize it’s been so long since we’ve had moments without the kids and just being able to interact with other couples.”
So it’s been good in some ways. I can definitely say that. I mean, the platform that they’ve created has been a major one and people really look to the people that are involved with the Housewives franchise. So I’m just grateful to have been a part of such an amazing platform that they have there.
Monique Samuels reveals the most surprising thing about being a Real Housewife
How about the fans? I mean, you did mention haters. Obviously, that’s always going to be a part of the “Real Housewives” franchise. But have there been positive experiences with fans?
Absolutely. Very supportive. I love that, the fans and supporters of the show. I mean, when I walked away, I was like, “Oh, it’s probably going to be a lot of people mad at me.” But there were more people that were understanding. They were just like, “We get it. I get why you left. We’re not even mad at you.” Some people were like, “I’m going to miss you but I get it.” A lot of people really understood.
I guess myself and my family, we really resonated with a lot of people out there, and that has been a blessing. I have more people who are supportive than the opposite when it comes to the fan base. So it’s been a great overall experience. I love that it’s allowed me to just be free with allowing people to express themselves and tell me what they think about me based off of what they see on the show. But at the same time, I’m so unbothered, because I know who I am. So I’m like, “Well, I mean, you can judge whatever you want from the little bit of time you’ve seen me on the show.” But it’s just nice that we can have that open conversation.
What was something that people who watch “RHOP” might not realize that the women go through as part of the show? Was there something that really surprised you?
Yes. I think the biggest shock factor to me was how much time is actually involved. I thought that it was just going to be, “OK, we’re filming for four months and then we’re free. We’re off. I can travel. I can do what I’ve been doing.” No, it’s the furthest from the truth. I didn’t realize how much of a job it is to do reality TV. I’m talking about it’s hard to schedule anything during those months of filming. I mean, you have to be darn on call.
And even when we’re done filming, then you have to do press. You have to maintain your social media. You have to promote the show. You have to promote your own brand. And then no sooner than you’re finished filming, now it’s time to air. Then you have to relive everything that you went through for all of those months. Now we’re filming the reunion and then we’re back to filming the next season. It is never-ending.
I had no idea that it was a 365-day-of-the-year job, and it really is. It’s a lot of work. So I think that really shocked me because I’ve watched reality TV for years, and I never knew how much was really involved to make a show happen.
Not everything filmed for RHOP was seen on the show
Obviously, in reality TV there’s a lot of stuff that gets filmed that never ever makes it to the air.
Oh, so much. I mean, you’ll literally film some scenes and you’ll forget that you were mad at a person as you’re watching this show, because they didn’t show that part where you blew up and then had a disagreement or anything. So, I mean, there’s been times where I was like, “Wait, I forgot that I was mad at her and now we all chummy. Hold up.” So that does actually happen. You forget a lot. It’s a lot that goes and gets left on the cutting room floor.
Is it an odd experience to watch your life play out on television?
It’s not really odd because I don’t feel as though I’m watching my life. I’m watching something that’s entertaining, because I am filming my real life. But once they take everything, edit it, and chop it up, they’re creating a whole different story than what actually happened, in most cases. So I watch it as pure entertainment. Sometimes I get a kick out of it. Sometimes I’m texting the editors or the producers, like, “What are you all doing? Really? That is not how that happened.” So I just watch it purely as entertainment.
What's next for Monique Samuels?
So you’ve got “Bindertime Stories,” the essential oils. What’s next? Any other ventures in the works that we can look forward to?
Well, I mean, right now I’m working on my next book. So you’ll see behind me, “Potty Training Mommy and Daddy.” I’m working on a book that is called “The Survival Bible.” It’s probably going to be a while before I can actually release it, because I’m really trying to be as transparent and open as possible. I’m detailing different circumstances and situations. I’m presenting an issue, and then I’m showing you how I was able to navigate that through real-life experience. So, that’s the next thing that I’m working on.
I’m still doing Mila Eve Essentials. I’ve literally mapped out for the next year my new rollout of different products that I’m slowly going to be releasing. So, every single day, I am working on Mila Eve Essentials. I’m either choosing packaging — my brother actually designs my packaging so I’m always working directly with him on that — [or] finding out what we can add to the website to be more helpful for people that use it.
Then, Not For Lazy Moms, we’re about to start doing some live events again, now that the pandemic is ceasing and people are feeling more comfortable to come out of the house. So, now we’re going to start doing more live events. We’ll hopefully start doing more live shows, back to our podcasts and really amping that up. One of my biggest goals was to do a tour, so we’ll be doing that. I’ll be doing my official book release. Since I released it during the pandemic, I didn’t get to do it in person.
I’m partnering up with Kendra Scott and we’re going to be doing a book signing with them as they launch their new menswear line… I’ll have more information on my Not For Lazy Moms website about those events coming up soon.
Very exciting. That sounds like you’re even busier than you were with the “Housewives.”
Oh, man. I was busy before I started and I’m still busy even now. I can’t even imagine having to film. Where I am right now in life, I can’t even imagine having to also fit in cameras to the schedule. Because I’m full, I’m loaded, I have three kids, a husband, a parrot. I’m like, “We are locked and loaded over here.” The businesses are just never-ending.
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