Eboni K. Williams wants to mention it all about race.
The Real Housewives of New York star didn't hold back in discussing the pressures of being the first Black cast member on the franchise on E! News' Just the Sip podcast, hosted by Justin Sylvester, this week.
"It's an honor and I'm so flattered and privileged to represent the litany of beautiful, brilliant women of color in general that could have been on this franchise," Williams said exclusively on the May 19 episode. "It's an enormous responsibility as well. There's an expectation of that I'm primarily concerned about, which is of my people to make sure I am representing, in general, a way that they can be proud of."
While Williams admitted that she's "absolutely not" perfect, she is always true to herself. "Am I going to handle every situation as every single Black woman would? No," Williams continued. "But I can really, truly say I give 100 percent. I bring my full-throttle self and I truly wish to be a credit to my race."
Yet Williams' casting on RHONY revealed some fans' anxiety around the "infusion and integration of culture and race," in Williams' perspective.
"I just want people to take a breath. We are doing something that's never been done before on the franchise," Williams explained, citing this is the first major change in the 13 seasons. "So as with all things for the first time, it's going to have some growing pains. I'm having growing pains, my cast mates are having growing pains [but] I'm better for it, my cast mates are better for it, our franchise is better for it."
Just don't expect Williams to go "all Toni Morrison up in this bitch" as per the explosive trailer. "I can't be teaching y'all every damn thing," Williams laughed. "But the reality is, it's in my nature. I have a degree in Black studies and cultural studies. I do have an innately high threshold of doing this work. It is my life's work, with non-Black people and in our Black community."
Williams' co-stars Luann de Lesseps, Sonja Morgan, Ramona Singer and Leah McSweeney all responded differently to her presence. "Some of our cast mates did pull up the proverbial chair and class was in session—to their credit though," Williams reflected. "If you really have a heart and mind for openness and expansion, I'm here for it. But what I'm not going to do is force feed it. If you are hostile to the information and you are complicit in your willful ignorance around these issues, I'm not going to force your hand."
Viewers already got a taste of a misunderstanding between Singer and Williams over a "help" comment, and Williams previously dished on E! News' Daily Pop that she has some unresolved "points of contention" with de Lesseps.
"There's a lot of fragility going on right now," Williams continued. "Certainly by the fourth episode, you've got to call a thing a thing. It's going to be uncomfortable for some viewers to watch. It was uncomfortable for me, it's definitely uncomfortable for some of my cast mates. But let us go through."
Williams added, "That's the thing, I believe one of the biggest problems is because we want to go around, we want to go on top, we want to go underneath it, we don't want to say a thing's a thing. We don't want to acknowledge it. We don't even want to say the words: White, Black, Jewish, Asian, Hispanic. People are really demonizing the acknowledgment of the beauty of cultural distinctions."
Williams is proud of making her mark on RHONY—and changing the series for the better. "What me and these women do—and I'm very proud of us for it because it wasn't easy and I think there were times we all wanted to walk away—we went through it and we came out all better for it," Williams concluded. "I'm excited for viewers to see our journey. I really am."
The Real Housewives of New York City airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on Bravo. Binge past season on Peacock any time.
(E!, Bravo and Peacock are all part of the NBCUniversal family.)