Jessel Taank knows a villain edit when she sees one. The Real Housewives of New York star — a newcomer just like her five costars on this 14th season, a completely recast reboot — had a bumpy reality TV introduction. Thanks to craftily edited skirmishes with costars Jenna Lyons and Erin Lichy and more, the London-raised fashion publicist, 40, came off as "this very out of touch, delusional figure," she told HELLO during a recent visit to the Manhattan apartment seen on the Bravo series. "Someone that is bossy to her husband, not nice to her mom, rude to Jenna for a gift, and just complaining overall. Those [first] three episodes were really tough for me"
The Jenna gift in question? As fans know, during a girls' weekend trip to Erin's house in the Hamptons, former J. Crew Creative Director Jenna, 55, gifted Jessel with a green negligee; Jessel repeatedly complained out loud that the piece of lingerie was neither flattering nor her style. And while her castmates and viewers alike were left aghast by the less-than-gracious response, Jenna and Jessel reconciled in a moment that was, naturally, left on the cutting floor.
"I certainly don't take myself too seriously and I always, of course, correct when I'm wrong," she said. "I did apologize to Jenna after the lingerie gifting. I wrote her a handwritten note. And we had a really nice conversation, but it wasn't shown. How convenient! Everyone thought I was someone completely different than what I was, and a large part was the edit."
A sweet and stunning Jessel generously opened her doors — she shares her sprawling apartment with husband Pavit and twin toddlers Kai and Rio, two —to HELLO! during a truly hectic time for any fashionista: New York Fashion Week. Watch Jessel get ready to attend the Shane Falguni Peacock Show with a glam squad in the video above — where she reveals her beauty hack, the ugliest item of clothing in her closet, priciest beauty splurge, her fashion role model and much more.
Jessel is also making history as the first housewife of Indian descent to appear in the history of the sprawling franchise, which now has official iterations in nine (!) cities. That biographical detail, she told HELLO!, led some to make assumptions based on broad cultural tropes. "At the beginning of the season, everyone expected me to be this quiet, boring one. It was very much playing into the stereotype. [Indian women] are not rambunctious. We're not very confrontational, we're not loud in that way. We're a little bit more tame."
Now, however? It was revealed late last week that Jessel scored the coveted seat right beside Andy Cohen for the reunion — a sign of favored alpha-girl supremacy in the Housewives universe. Says Jessel: "I proved everyone wrong."
Real Housewives of New York airs on Bravo every Sunday at 9pm EST.
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