If there were one woman truly made for reality television, it might be Chanel Ayan.
The model stars in the “The Real Housewives of Dubai,” Bravo’s newest and first international installment of its widely popular “The Real Housewives” reality series franchise, which premieres Wednesday. Like the other cities, the show follows a diverse group of six women, including Ayan, and the lives they lead in Dubai.
The show is different in that it’s set in the ultramodern and lively United Arab Emirates, but also in that its cast do not hold back in the slightest, according to the Ayan.
“We are too glamorous. We are too funny. We are too outgoing. We are dramatic,” Ayan, born Ayan Pillott, told WWD. “We are also mothers. You get to see every one of us showing their lives, and we are all literally incredible women in different ways. So you get to see all that from us and we are very open. I think that’s the best thing about us. We’re so proud of our lives.”
From the get-go, Ayan, known as Dubai’s first Black supermodel, cements herself as a force to be reckoned with, commanding every room she walks into with her over-the-top designer outfits, audacious personality and deadpan sense of humor.
“My style is as big as my personality: outrageous,” Ayan said. “I bring drama with my fashion.”
Before moving to Dubai, she also modeled in her native country of Kenya, where she competed for, but didn’t win, the title of Miss Kenya. Instead, Ayan quipped that she was apparently kicked out.
During her modeling career, Ayan has worked with Valentino, Louis Vuitton and Gucci — experiences that have helped shape how she styles herself and who she is as a person today.
“I show a lot of things. I show simplicity sometimes, but honestly, I’m not a very simple person,” she said, describing her style. “I’m not a basic person. I’m definitely one of a kind. Like someone you’re only going to see in this lifetime. I love that people are going to see me like that because I’ve never been the type of person that likes to fit in. I’m the type of person that likes to live my life the way I want to live it.”
The show, which also stars Nina Ali, Lesa Milan, Caroline Brooks, Sara Al Madani and Caroline Stanbury, like the other installments, involves an abundance of dramatic storylines, quarrels between its cast members and over-the-top celebrations and fashion ensembles.
The first season trailer for “The Real Housewives of Dubai” features a look at some of the women’s personal and professional endeavors, including Stanbury’s wedding, Milan’s fashion show and Brooks’ journey to open her own spa. It even sneaks a cameo from Phaedra Parks of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” one of the franchise’s most popular shows.
Ayan recently launched her own line of cosmetics called Ayan Beauty by Toni Malt, which she created with her longtime friend and celebrity makeup artist Toni Malt. Viewers will catch snippets of the model working on her new venture.
“I’ve been in this industry for so long and I love everything to do with beauty. I love everything to do with fashion,” Ayan said. “I love when a woman feels good about themselves when they wear makeup, or when they don’t. When they just have skin products on their face. Sometimes when I don’t have makeup on, I feel so powerful. Like you’re feeling good about yourself today. So I just want people to feel confident in their own skin whenever they want to feel.”
Ayan has lived the last 18 years in Dubai with her husband Lucas Salves, originally from Idaho. The two have a 14-year-old son named Taj together.
When asked what viewers should expect from the show, Ayan says a lot of “drama” — in more ways than one.
“They’ll see I really speak my mind and I love being funny. They get to see all these things about me,” she said. “Hey, be prepared, America and the world. Ayan is coming. I promise you, I’m coming. I’m going to show you how glamorous a gorgeous Black woman can look.”
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