Meet the newest 'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills': A frank chat with Carlton Gebbia and Joyce Giraud

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Image Credit: Rodolfo Martinez/Bravo

What did we learn about the two new cast members in last night’s season four premiere of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills? Not a lot. Joyce Giraud has the hair of the gods and Carlton Gebbia seems like she might cut a B…everly Hills lady for giving her any side eye about naming one of her children Mystery.

Luckily, EW talked to the two newbs individually to see if those first impressions rang true. While they both got around to some of the same themes eventually, they’re, uh, highly different. Gebbia is laid back and reserved with personal information, making me wonder if she thought this was going to be more of a Top Chef/Shark Tank-type reality show and less of a “I’ll throw this martini in your face and then take you to a boutique and ask about your kids”-type show. Whereas Giraud was cut from the sparkliest of Real Housewives rhinestone cloth: former pageant queen, current actor, self-described independent woman.

Entertainment Weekly: You’re not originally from the United States. What brought you to Beverly Hills?
Carlton Gebbia: When I was 14 we moved to South Africa, we lived there for four years. My mom and I came back to London and then I moved [to California] in my early 20s to pursue acting (laughs). And then when I woke up and realized I couldn’t act, I started working in the securities industry, and that’s how I met my husband. We got married, 15 years now, and moved to Beverly Hills.

Joyce Giraud: I grew up a little bit of a nerd in Puerto Rico. I finished my two bachelor degrees by the time I was 19. I was modeling on the side to pay for school. I got discovered in the drive thru of KFC at the age of 15.

I did Miss Puerto Rico on a dare and I was very lucky that I won. I was the total odd one because I was the one that would show up to rehearsals in jeans and a wife beater and all the rest were in their rhinestone dresses. I was second runner-up in Miss Universe and when I came back from Miss Universe, a director in Puerto Rico called me in to read. He gave me the lead in his movie and it was fantastic and I fell in love with acting. I got bored of the modeling. I love to get paid to feel pretty, but acting is a challenge. It’s something different. That’s what brought me to LA 12 years ago.

Did you continue to pursue acting after settling down in Beverly Hills?
CG: Until I got a slap across the face when I got pregnant. It was like, “You know what, you’re not that good.” I don’t think I took it seriously enough. I was honing the craft, but I don’t think I was completely committed to it. I did try to go back to it after I had children but I had already made that transition without even knowing. Not to say that you cannot act and be a mother, but you have to be an amazing actress.

JG: Well, I am currently the lead on an NBC show called Siberia. It was the big summer show for NBC. Thank God, since I’ve moved here I’ve been a working actress. You always have to have your little side job, either at a store or at a restaurant or as a host or something. I never had to do that because I was always, knock on wood, a working actress. I do have a husband that can take great care of me, but I like to take care of myself. I’m an independent girl. I don’t want to feel ever that I don’t take care of anything and then, God forbid, something happens and I’m lost in the world. I don’t want to become one of those women, and in Beverly Hills that’s very easy to become. I don’t like that, so I like to do what I preach.

I know a couple of the women like Kim and Kyle were former actors. Did you ever talk about your shared experiences?

CG: No, because I don’t ever really talk about it. I think when people talk about acting, they have to feel in a safe environment because it’s a very exposed art form. I didn’t know them well enough to ever go there.

JG: We did, we did. Kim and Kyle were both former actors. Actually, all the girls have some experience. Carlton was an aspiring actress; Lisa was an aspiring actress. I’m the only one that actually is one now, but they all have had acting experiences. I think everyone comes here with, like that Pretty Woman line, “Everybody has a dream.” LA is such a melting pot. You move here because you want to be somehow in the entertainment business. Or in the real estate business!

Getting involved with The Real Housewives franchise, had you ever watched any of the seasons before?
CG: I didn’t. I wasn’t really a huge fan of reality TV. But once I realized that this probably was going to materialize for myself, I did start watching a couple of episodes just to kind of get accustomed to some of the characters. Then from me moving on to doing the show, I have caught up now on all the episodes all the seasons too.

JG: I did. I’m not going to be one of these girls that says, “Oh, I’ve never watched the show.” I mean, give me a break. If you don’t watch it, at least you know of it. Or if you’re getting cast for something, you’re going to do your research on it. I did watch it and I loved it and I’m proud of saying it. And I’m proud of being in the cast now. I think it’s a great show that’s an amazing platform. I didn’t know anything about these ladies, as I’m sure a lot of people don’t know anything about me.

Now that you’ve seen the first episode, were you happy with how you were portrayed? Was it an odd seeing your life on TV?
CG: It bloody was! To see yourself on-screen in essentially your own reality is a little disconcerting, but there was nothing where I said to myself, “Nu-uh, that’s not what happened.” It was verbatim. There are going to be instances where I will look at myself and say, “Bloody hell, what was I thinking” or “Why did I drink the night before? I’m not looking so hot.” I have made some mistakes on this show, but I have no regrets. This literally was my reality, it was my own journey.

JG: Obviously, they have to condense a lot of footage to one hour, so it’s hard to do. You don’t see much of me until the third episode. I do wish that in certain scenarios you would get more of the back story so you can understand more. I’m already upset at my tagline because it’s not me and I didn’t pick it. I’m really pissed off that they would pick a tagline that doesn’t describe me. (Giraud’s tagline: “In Beverly Hills they say you can never be too young, too thin, or too rich.”)

They give you all these taglines and you take them and then they pick. Here I am as a newbie, playing ball and taping what you’re telling me to tape. But I’m asking you to not pick this and you pick it. I was bullied as a young girl for these things you’re putting in my tagline: I grew up feeling ugly, feeling bad about myself for being to skinny.

Knowing the drama that can come with being a part of this franchise, what made you want to join the cast?
CG: I think my husband was the final piece in this puzzle to take this leap of faith. I’ve been married 15 years, we have three beautiful children, but ultimately I was a wife and a mother. This was something that would be my own personal journey. It was me putting myself out there and exposing myself and taking a challenge. Before I met my husband, David, I was very independent and headstrong and definitely knew what I wanted. And I also relied a lot on blind faith and intuition. But when I met my husband, I was in a very safe environment. And I think that part of me became very dormant. Suddenly, I’m offered this opportunity to enter this, in my opinion, a parallel universe. Good or bad, it was a liberating experience.

JG: For me personally, I want to use it to promote my charity-based pageant, which is Queen of the Universe. I want to promote that and hopefully they show a lot of that on the show. Besides, it’s a very fun ride. I do think that the platform that the show gives you is the best thing to get out of the show. Because otherwise, why would you expose your life, and your personal life in this dramatic group of ladies that just have so much drama going on. Why would you do that to yourself if you were not going to get anything in return?

Looking back, was it worth it? Did you learn anything new about yourself or the other women?
CG: It is by far the hardest job I’ve ever encountered. I think it is by far harder than acting. Because nothing is scripted, you don’t know what’s coming. It’s not an improvisational experience either. You’re being questioned on your morality and your faith and your viewpoints and it’s real. So, it’s a whole other level.

About the women, I don’t think I learned anything from the other women that I didn’t already know about women. I put women on pedestals, I truly do. I think that we are a phenomenal breed. Unfortunately though, there are some women that cannot get out of the way of themselves and kind of set us back. I think for the most part, I didn’t learn from them but I did learn things from myself, and that’s what I’ve taken away from this experience.

JG: I think it was a great experience. I can’t tell you if I got out of it what I was looking to get out of it until after the show because you never know how they’re going to portray you.

I told myself to come in with an open heart and get to know these ladies for who they are, not for what you think of them. Thank God I did that because in certain cases I was surprised and in others, I was saddened by it. If you see these ladies, it is a gorgeous group of girls. They’re all stunning. Once I got to know some of them, then I’m like, “How can such a beautiful person be so ugly on the inside?” How can you be so manipulative and say such mean things about your co-workers? I understand the dynamic of the show but its’ just mean and it’s rude and it’s unnecessary. Coming from a woman to another woman, it’s just ugly. It’s a sad thing because I’m a very girl’s girl and I think everyone is beautiful. Everybody has something amazing to them.

Did you get any clues in last night’s premiere as to whose beauty was tarnished for the new girls? The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills airs at 8 p.m. ET on Bravo.

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