Seven years in the past, Eboni Okay. Williams was broke. Trying to transition from being a lawyer to a TV persona, she was residing in Los Angeles and dealing principally without spending a dime as a commentator at locations just like the NFL Network, simply to get expertise.
“It was the last $340 I had. I could have either paid my car payment or bought a [ticket] to New York to interview with CBS,” she advised The Post. Making the “ultimate bet” on herself, Williams opted to audition as a authorized analyst for the community.
“My car was repossessed by the time I got back, but that was OK because CBS gave me the job.”
She’s come a good distance, child. On Tuesday, Williams makes her debut as a cast member of “The Real Housewives of New York City,” the Bravo present the place wealth — and drama — are celebrated.
“My fortune has changed in recent years. I wanted to show another pathway to living this affluent, elite lifestyle,” Williams, 37, advised The Post.
“Marrying wealth is one of them, being born into wealth is another, and there’s also rolling up your sleeves and doing the damn thing. That’s what I represent.”
Williams isn’t simply bringing a brand new sort of cash to the present, which co-stars longtime housewives Ramona Singer, Luann de Lesseps, Sonja Morgan and final 12 months’s bombshell rookie, Leah McSweeney. She’s additionally the first black cast member within the franchise’s 13-year historical past.
It’s a title Williams is used to having: “I was the first black woman at my law firm, I was the first black woman in my gifted classes in high school. The first black woman in most of the pageants I was ever in,” stated the previous magnificence queen, the first runner-up for Miss North Carolina in 2009. “I was the first black woman to host an early prime-time show on Fox News Channel. I chose to wear it as a privilege. As Kamala Harris says, ‘If I’m first, I better damn well not be the last.’ ”
She is aware of what her presence on the present means. “These women, they don’t want to talk about race,” she stated of her castmates. “If they did, it would have been brought up 13 seasons ago.”
For certainly one of her first scenes, the truth star donned a sweatshirt printed with the first names of the Central Park Five — the black and Latino youngsters wrongfully convicted of raping a white lady in 1989.
“It was very important upon introducing myself to this platform . . . that people know where I stand on the liberation of my people,” stated Williams, calling it her “life’s work.”
“Production tells me we’re shooting a scene in Central Park? I’m bringing the Central Park Five with me.”
Raised by a single mom in Charlotte, NC, Williams discovered a brand new residence in Harlem. “When I moved to New York from LA, I moved to 138th Street,” she recalled.
She’s now within the strategy of closing on a condominium within the neighborhood. “The streets that James Baldwin and Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes occupied, that’s where I need to be.”
Blessed with the reward of gab, a younger Williams was usually advised by academics she would make lawyer. While attending legislation college at Loyola University New Orleans, she helped residents impacted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, then made her approach to the Charlotte public defender’s workplace.
But she wished “a bigger microphone” to discuss injustice, as an alternative of making an attempt it case by case. In 2010 she left Charlotte for LA, the place she discovered gigs on speak radio and TV as a authorized analyst, and later in sports activities and popular culture.
After relocating to New York, Williams, who’s divorced and courting, labored as a authorized analyst and reporter at CBS after which at Fox as a legislation and politics contributor and an anchor. Now she hosts and executive-produces Revolt Black News on Sean “Diddy” Combs’ cable community and “Holding Court With Eboni K. Williams,” an iHeartRadio podcast.
“It’s stranger than fiction,” stated Williams of her profession leap. “Knowing what I do now, I don’t know if I would have had the balls to do it [again]. There were some really s–tty times, really broke times. Times of feeling inadequate.”
Even together with her years of on-screen expertise, Williams says she’s “anxious” for the “RHONY” premiere, as a result of viewers can have opinions about her private life and never simply her information evaluation. A Bravo devotee, Williams has watched the present because it premiered, and is a fan of Alex McCord and Dorinda Medley, whom she changed.
And although she bonded with castmates Morgan and McSweeney, Williams says she put her courtroom abilities to make use of in argumentative scenes with de Lesseps and Singer. In a preview for the season, followers see Williams confront Singer for referring to housekeepers as “the help.”
“I’m somebody who pushes back. I’m somebody who doesn’t leave the room when you want to run out and not face reality,” stated Williams, including that, irrespective of the race or background of a “housewife,” “we’re simply girls with massive outdated personalities and large outdated opinions.
“And when those come to a head, they come to a head.”
Photos: Rene Cervantes; Stylist: Terry Perry; Hair/Makeup: T. Cooper/crowdMGMT for Eva NYC; Hair Assistant: Eboné Alloway. Location: Minton’s Playhouse, 206 West 118th Street, Harlem.