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Getting to know 'The Real Housewives of Potomac'

When Bravo's "The Real Housewives of Potomac" premieres at 9 p.m. Sunday, don't expect the same antics and physical confrontations that viewers have come to expect from the series' franchises in New Jersey and Atlanta.

The cast from Potomac, the affluent D.C. suburb in Montgomery County, would rather cut you down with an acerbic tongue.

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Take the small tiff between cast members Charrisse Jackson-Jordan and Gizelle Bryant over etiquette. Even though it had been months since the episode had been filmed, during their media tour, Jackson-Jordan, the wife of former NBA star Eddie Jordan, couldn't resist taking a couple of playful digs at Bryant, the ex-wife of Baltimore pastor Jamal Bryant.

When Jackson-Jordan, the self proclaimed "glue" of the season, was asked why she and Bryant got into a fight about etiquette, she immediately responded: "Gizelle has etiquette? Can Gizelle even spell etiquette?"

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That's a "read" — a witty, cutting insult delivered with attitude. And these women are fluent in it.

"There is no table-flipping or weave-pulling. However there is a lot of nice nasty things going on," Bryant said of the show. "You'll leave a conversation bloody because they have cut you up in a million pieces from what they've told you. We're more elegant and stylish with what we say to each other. We do it in a very nice, nasty way."

Unlike 2010's ill-fated "Housewives" season in D.C., the cast from Potomac has the makings of a successful series with plenty of longevity, said Seven Adrin Washington, a hairstylist who has worked with cast members on both the D.C. and Potomac shows.

"These [Potomac] girls know how to act out in front of the camera," said Washington, who owns Seven and Company, a hair salon in Bethesda. "They know how to give modern-day soap opera. They are reality TV-friendly. It's a good recipe."

Washington, who did the hair of almost every cast member from the D.C. cast, has met with Jackson-Jordan for a hair consultation and has done her teenage daughter's hair twice since meeting them in October.

"They know what not to do," Washington said of the cast members. "The last cast ['The Real Housewives of D.C.'] was trying to be so conservative. These girls know how to carry on. They know how to play the game. This cast has a little more sister-girl soul to them."

Shari Levine, Bravo Media's executive vice president of current production, described the cast as intelligent, saucy and funny.

"There is a lot of hilarity," she said. "They are a supportive group of women with each other. … They are really inspirational and aspirational."

The origins of the Potomac series began when production scouts started looking at the Baltimore region last year, Levine said.

"We are sort of always looking and have our antenna up," Levine said, adding that another show based in Dallas will debut this year. "We had [the production company] look into the Baltimore area. Through that process, we found a really interesting group of women in Potomac."

That group of women — Jackson-Jordan, Bryant, Robyn Dixon and Karen Huger — became the nucleus for the show. Ashley Darby and Katie Rost later completed the cast.

"They're capital F-U-N," said Levine. "They are really an interesting group of women. They are fun to watch. …They do fun things. They go on a couple of different journeys together."

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Even though they want an entertaining, exciting season, the "Potomac" cast members echoed each other about being mindful of the way black women are portrayed on TV.

"We are a classy group of women," Jackson-Jordan said. "In this area, people are very, very concerned about perception. People will watch this show won't leave it feeling any type of negative way. There is a good balance on the show about what it brings."

She added, "I'm actually kind of proud of [the show]. I'm concerned with the way that black women are portrayed. I don't see any instances where this show would portray black women in a negative way at all. It's a unique story. … I think we serve our sisterhood well."

Bryant said she is not worried about the way she will come across to viewers of the show.

"When we wrapped, I said to everyone that I felt good," she said. "There is nothing I regret. I'm not kicking myself over doing or saying anything."

With all the cast members stressing that there won't be some of the usual reality television gold — fist-flying, furniture throwing and the like — it begs the question if this cast will generate enough of a following to warrant a second season? "The Real Housewives of D.C.," overshadowed, according to some, by cast member/"White House party crasher" Michaele Salahi, did not.

"I certainly hope so," Levine said. "I want to watch more of them. That's for sure."

Levine isn't ruling out the addition of new cast members — or dropping some members from the inaugural cast.

"That's always a possibility," she said. "Life is fluid. People come and go. Sometimes people move. We're always looking at how friend groups expand. People who are a part of the group are always under consideration. It's hard to be in a TV show like this. It's hard to have cameras on every part of your life. It takes a certain type of person who is open to be a part of this. It's not for everybody."

Here's a rundown of the cast:

Robyn Dixon

Dixon, a Baltimore native who graduated from McDonogh School and the University of Maryland, College Park, is the ex-wife of Juan Dixon, a former University of Maryland basketball standout and NBA player who is the nephew of former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon.

Even though the couple split three years ago, they still live together with their two young boys, 7-year-old Corey and 6-year-old Carter. The unusual nature of the relationship will play out during the show.

"We just have such a strong history," said Dixon, 36, who works as a publicist and event manager at TAA PR, a public relations, marketing and special-events boutique firm in Washington. "It's more about being grown adults and looking at the bigger picture. His family is my family."

When the two divorced, it "broke" her heart, she said.

Some viewers might be shocked that the two still show affection to each other.

"We spend time together," Dixon said. "We hug and kiss — whatever is appropriate in front of a child. We interact as a normal married couple."

To compound things, the children don't even realize that their parents are divorced.

"Although Juan and I are divorced, they don't really know that," she said. "They don't know because of their ages — when we did get divorced, they were pretty young. And because Juan had kind of traveled a lot, they were used to him not being around anyway. It wasn't a major change."

One person you won't see this season: Baltimore's controversial mayoral candidate, Dixon said.

"No. We won't see Sheila," Dixon said. "Maybe during Season 2 we'll get on the campaign trail for her. She loves Baltimore more than anyone that I know. I would really want to see her back in office."

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Gizelle Bryant

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Bryant, 36, lived in Baltimore for seven years while married to the Rev. Jamal Bryant. After their marriage ended in divorce, Gizelle Bryant moved to Potomac, where she now lives with their three daughters, Grace and twins Angel and Adore.

"I would never want them portrayed in way that is not fair to them," she said. "But I was thinking that I was at a point in my life where I could do something different."

Bryant's ex-husband will appear for at least one episode, taking her and the children to a Georgetown restaurant on Mother's Day. And he will make telephone appearances on other episodes because the two are in frequent contact concerning their children.

"He had his reservations," she said about the show. "But he trusted my opinion and decisions."

Gizelle Bryant works with the city council of Birmingham, Ala., to help "revitalize" the city, and fund-raises for a number of local charities. She is also working on a makeup line geared toward women of color, which is scheduled to launch this year.

"I'm a mom. I'm very strong, opinionated and a lot of fun," she said, adding: "I might be taken a bit too seriously. I don't take myself too seriously. I'm a very carefree easy-going girl."

Levine describes Bryant as "beautiful" with an "interesting smart personality. She says funny, smart things."

Her favorite franchise? Beverly Hills and Atlanta. "The Beverly Hills girls are highly over the top and seem to be a lot of fun," she said. "Atlanta seems to be down to earth, opinionated. Those are the two that resonated with me. I really wouldn't compare us to anyone else. We are six very strong, intelligent ladies. We know what we want. We are secure with out lifestyles."

Charrisse Jackson-Jordan

Jackson-Jordan's husband, Eddie Jordan, coached Juan Dixon while both were with the Washington Wizards. That's where she and Robyn Dixon started their friendship.

Even though Jackson-Jordan, 50, had a strong friendship with a number of the cast members before the show began, she thinks that the group is welcoming to newcomers Ashley Darby and Katie Rost.

"I embrace anyone," she said. "The younger ones — Ashley, she is like a niece to me. She's a young girl, but she's a lot of fun. I can relate to her in a bunch of ways. I knew Katie. The only one I didn't know was Ashley. We've become very close."

With that warm, welcoming personality it's no surprise that Jackson-Jordan compares her personality to "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" cast member Kandi Burruss.

"She's a very genuine person," said Jackson-Jordan. "We share a characteristic trait of being emotional."

Why she should return for a second season: "My life is like a freaking roller coaster," she said. "I have so much going on in my world. It has its peaks and valleys. It's a whirlwind."

Karen Huger

Huger, 52, is known for throwing lavish parties and maintaining a close relationship with her family.

That family dynamic changes this season when Huger will become an empty-nester as she and her husband of 19 years deal with the youngest of their two children going off to college.

"Karen is more of the grande dame and focal point of the cast," Levine said. "She has long years of living in the Potomac. Many of them are legacy Potomac women. She brings a different perspective."

Huger said she jumped at the chance to be on the show.

"We are a tiny little hidden jewel. Now the world will see us," she said. "I think we're unique. I don't think we are a carbon copy [of the other shows.]. We're definitely a unique, fresh bunch of women."

She sees differences from the D.C. season. "This is not D.C.," she said. "We're not into politics. We don't live in D.C. We live in Potomac. … I'm sure people will find something they will enjoy. That in itself will warrant a revisit to the Potomac village."

Katie Rost

The 35-year-old model, a Potomac native, recently became single and is raising her children: 3-year-old son James Rocco and 14-month-old twin daughters, Kathryn and Renee.

Rost and her mother currently run the Ronald F. Rost Charitable Foundation, named in memory of Rost's father, who died in 2000.

Rost's work as a model has taken her all over the world. In 2009, she was asked by Vogue editor Anna Wintour to join the Vogue 100 List, a group of women from around the country who act as arbiters of style.

Vincent De Paul, an actor and model who is originally from Baltimore but now is based in Beverly Hills, co-emceed a swimwear event during D.C. Fashion Week last summer with Rost while she was filming the season.

"Everyone likes working with her," he said. "She represents diversity in beauty. She is definitely a beautiful woman of color. It was an enjoyable time. She's a very jovial, fun lady. I have nothing bad to say about her at all."

Her Cringe-worthy moment? In one episode, Rost's boyfriend gets a surprise when he discovers that she wears a weave.

"I have this thing about trying out a new hair style," she recalled. "The wind hits and I think my weave was looking a little crazy. My track gets revealed. I'm not excited about that."

Ashley Darby

The former Miss District of Columbia in the Miss America competition is new to the group, but don't expect her to play second fiddle.

"My family had faith in me," the 27-year-old said. "They knew I could hold my own."

Expect to see plenty of Darby and her husband, Michael Darby, an Australian real-estate millionaire, who is 29 years her senior. The two spend a lot of time at their Australian-themed restaurant Oz in Arlington, Va.

Darby acknowledges that she didn't make a great first impression on fellow cast members.

"The first time that I met the women I may have embarrassed myself," she said. "I may not have made the best impression. There was some alcohol involved."

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