'Real Girlfriends in Paris' cast explains how Bravo's latest show is different from 'Real Housewives'

The cast of "Real Girlfriends in Paris" knows that they'll be compared to "Emily in Paris." Gibson Johns interviews four cast members from Bravo's latest reality show — Anya Firestone, Emily Gorelik, Margaux Lignel and Victoria Zito — about the series, including what kinds of roles each of them plays in the family-like group they've formed in Paris, what they make of the "Emily in Paris" comparisons and how it feels to be embarking on the journey of being reality stars. They also discuss Victoria's emotional reveal in the series premiere, Margaux's relationship with her family, how they all met in the first place and more.

Video Transcript

GIBSON JOHNS: Hi, guys. Welcome back to We Should Talk, a pop culture interview series from In the Know. I'm your host, Gibson Johns, and this week on the podcast we have some of the cast of The Real Girlfriends in Paris, which is Bravo's newest show. It's a lighter show. It's more about the aspirational lifestyle these women are leading in Paris as expats. And it's not as drama-focused as some of the Housewives have been recently, but I kind of like that. It's kind of a nice balance from that because some of them have felt pretty intense recently.

So I really enjoyed the first few episodes of this show. Again, it's kind of different fare for Bravo that we're used to, but this group of women is really great. I got to talk to four of them. Two of them I couldn't talk to because of scheduling conflict. But, you know, I just talked about what people can expect from the show, and what they're like, what the role they play in the group, how they know each other.

Obviously, when that trailer first dropped I was not the only one who saw some Emily in Paris vibes attached to this show. It's kind of like a real life group of Emily and Parises. But I want to know what they think about that comparison, whether it makes them roll their eyes, whether they like that comparison. They different answers to that, and, yeah.

I mean, the show really just focused on more of their personal stories, and some of them have some really great stories to tell. So I do recommend this show. And if you want sort of an introductory look to what you can expect, keep listening to this interview. Tune in to Real Girlfriends in Paris Mondays at 9 PM. The premiere is on September 5th, and please rate, review, and subscribe to We Should Talk on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

All right, so we're here with Anya Firestone and Emily Gorelik from Real Girlfriends in Paris on Bravo, premieres next week. You guys, the show is so fun. It's so, like, just aspirational, and it really kind of transports you in a different way that I think other Bravo shows do. How are you guys feeling with the show almost out there?

EMILY GORELIK: It's getting real. It's getting real girlfriends in Paris. It's a lot of emotions I think. We've never done something like this before, so of course, we're feeling very vulnerable but at the same time excited for the world to see the real Paris.

ANYA FIRESTONE: Yeah, I think it's-- you know, filming was great. I think just showing our real lives-- and part of it is glamorous, but part of it is not. And it takes a lot of chutzpah, as they say in New York, to come here by yourself, like, not speaking the language for many and learning the ins and outs of French bureaucracy and the pace of things. And so, we're excited to really showcase all that realness but how we deal with it. Yeah.

GIBSON JOHNS: Yeah. And in the first episode, several of you describe the group of expats that you're in on this show as being another kind of family for you guys because you're away from home, you have this kind of tight knit group of six women that you're with, all Americans. What role do each of you sort of play in the group for people that are-- obviously, this is a new show. So what kind of role can people expect each of you to play?

EMILY GORELIK: It's funny because I think you've got two opposite ends of the spectrum right here.

ANYA FIRESTONE: She's the baby.

EMILY GORELIK: You got Mama, and you got baby.

ANYA FIRESTONE: Yeah, I mean--

EMILY GORELIK: And everything in between. Everyone's in--

ANYA FIRESTONE: Everyone else is in between. No, and, I don't know. Emily and I are extremely close, and she is the youngest. I am the eldest. And I'm the mom, mamania. And you know, but the thing is I came to Paris when I was younger than Emily, and I have been through all the things Emily's gone through and that the other girls are going through. If it's visa work, if it's dating, if it's trying to decide what you want to focus on, if it's figuring out which paperwork and how many photocopies to bring to the prefecture-- they say two, you bring five.

So in that case, like, yes. Because I have the experience, I've been able to act as more of a maman figure to the women. And I like to feed them.

GIBSON JOHNS: And that meal in the first episode looked amazing, so you clearly do an amazing job at hosting.


EMILY GORELIK: I lost my meat-- my pescaterian.

ANYA FIRESTONE: At first, Emily-- when we were put in contact with each other, I asked her if she had plans for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish holiday, and she didn't. So I was like, oh my goodness. You must come for dinner. And she said she was a vegetarian, and I was like, it just took me a month to secure brisket in Paris. You're going to eat the meat. And she ate it, and loved it.

EMILY GORELIK: I haven't been a pescaterian since, so--

GIBSON JOHNS: Anya's impact. Anya's impact. I love it.

EMILY GORELIK: Exactly. Mama.

GIBSON JOHNS: How do all of you get connected? I'm presuming that, like, it's friend of friend situations, or it's like, oh, I know this person who lives there. Is that sort of how it works?


EMILY GORELIK: That's most definitely how it works. I think that being in your 20s or 30s in Paris as American there's a very small community. And it's very pretty much standard to say, I know this person through that person, or a friend of a friend of a friend. And that's kind of how you build a network here and build your American family here, and it's been like that since I've moved here. And we've all just been very lucky enough to come together and all sort of blend so well and find sort of a home in each other.

GIBSON JOHNS: And I think what's kind of nice about this show is, like, I mean, it doesn't have the like emphasis on drama between a bunch of women. It's a different-- it's an ensemble show, but it's a different kind of ensemble show that I think the Bravo viewer is generally used to. Is that sort of what-- is that like a-- is that a-- that must be like a positive part about this experience that you aren't being weighed down by like throwing glasses and things like that.


EMILY GORELIK: Absolutely.

ANYA FIRESTONE: Yeah, I joked before that, like, The Real Housewives throw cake at each other, and we eat cake together because we're in Paris, and it's delicious, and Marie Antoinette said we should.

GIBSON JOHNS: Yeah, exactly.

ANYA FIRESTONE: So they're definitely-- we each I think struggle with our own personal dramas more than interpersonal. I mean, surely, we're a group of women, so things will come up. But it's a different kind of drama than Bravo's used to.

EMILY GORELIK: And I think that's what makes it very Sex and the City-esque in a sense that we all have our own individual lives, career, struggles, relationships--

ANYA FIRESTONE: Personalities.

EMILY GORELIK: Personalities, that we're all leading independently, and we sort of come together as a group of friends. So, yeah, it's more so personal struggles, personal conflict, rather than within the group. And I think that's what makes it very Sex and the City-esque.

GIBSON JOHNS: Totally. And something I noticed in the first episode when you guys are at the Friendsgiving meal, and something that I found really refreshing, honestly, was we were watching a group of women in their 20s and 30s talk really openly about sex and sexuality and their love lives in a way that just, like, you don't always see. I don't know.

It was a very frank conversation. I found it really, really refreshing. I'm curious if that-- if you guys think that that's more of an American thing that you guys bring to Paris, or thing that you've-- or a thing that you've picked up, like, about the way that the French talk about just, like, more openly about sex or something like that. Because it just felt different than other American reality shows in my opinion.

EMILY GORELIK: I think personally, of course, I'm 22 years old. So I moved here and I was 18, so that's like right when I started kind of even exploring sexuality.


EMILY GORELIK: So for me, those past few years here I felt that Parisians and French in general have a very different perspective on sex and love. I think it's way more open, and I think people aren't afraid to talk about it. It's not taboo.

ANYA FIRESTONE: Right. I also think the women that you're dealing with are not afraid to talk about anything because we're also-- you know, I think, like I said, like, it takes chutzpah to go and move to foreign country, and try to establish yourself, and not be mistaken for certain stereotypes. And so there is a certain openness and comfort with oneself that you need to have when you come to Paris.

And because the French will say no, no, no. And sometimes you have to be like, actually, yeah, and talk about why it's-- yeah, I can actually do this. So I think also, beyond the French component, I think personality-wise I think we are six women who are not shy to talk about real things.


EMILY GORELIK: You can't talk about sex if you cannot just pick up your life and move here alone, you know what I mean?

GIBSON JOHNS: Yeah, 100%. No, it all makes sense. And lastly, I think we're out of time. But when I first saw the trailer for the show, I obviously, one of the things that popped into my mind was Emily in Paris. And those comparisons are going to be there. What do you think about that comparison? Is that like an eye roll, or is that like, OK, I get it?

ANYA FIRESTONE: It's both. I mean, I think we two get it the most.


ANYA FIRESTONE: Because, maybe I dress a little eccentrically. Sometimes I have a middle part, found a man from Normandy, I'm in the fashion collaboration marketing thing.

EMILY GORELIK: I hear it on the daily.

ANYA FIRESTONE: And then we have Emily.

EMILY GORELIK: I mean, I cannot set foot anywhere without someone saying, oh, Emily in Paris. And for that reason, I love it. Because there's a certain stereotype that actually sometimes is positive in the sense that it's romanticized, and she's quirky and fun and interesting. But of course, there's so much more to the story as being two little Emilies in Paris here.

GIBSON JOHNS: And in some ways, you guys will break out of that expectation.

ANYA FIRESTONE: But that's the point, also, is that, like, you know, I think a lot of-- people roll their eyes and say, oh, what? It's the reality version of that. But it's the reality of being a young independent woman trying to make something happen. I mean what I do admire about Emily in that show is, like, her chutzpah. Like, that she is a go-getter.

GIBSON JOHNS: She has some of that.

ANYA FIRESTONE: You do have go getter women in this group.

EMILY GORELIK: Definitely. I think all of us have--

ANYA FIRESTONE: But there is a depth, and there are struggles that Emily does not have to deal with, and we have to deal with them. And so you'll definitely see that this season.

GIBSON JOHNS: I love it. Well, thank you so much, guys, for your time. I'm excited for this show and for everyone to see it. And it will be a great first season.




EMILY GORELIK: Merci, Gibson.

GIBSON JOHNS: Bye. All right. So I'm here with Margaux Lignel and Victoria Zito from Real Girlfriends in Paris, Bravo's newest show. I've watched the first two episodes, and it is so fun. Thanks for being here, you guys. How are you?

MARGAUX LIGNEL: Thank you. I'm great. How are you?

VICTORIA ZITO: Thanks for having us.

GIBSON JOHNS: I'm good. How does it feel to have this show almost out there?

MARGAUX LIGNEL: Nerve wracking, but exciting.

VICTORIA ZITO: Yes. So exciting, a little nerve wracking as well.

GIBSON JOHNS: I mean, and I was talking earlier with Anya and Emily. And I was saying how one of the things that I liked about this show is that it's not your typical Bravo show in that it's centered around, like, intense drama. Like, there's an aspirational aspect to this. There's a kind of wanderlust aspect to this of, like, kind of wanting to be in Paris.

And we still are, like, there for your personal journeys and different issues that you face. But, like, it's not around like fighting and things like that. Is that a positive part of this experience for you guys that it's not necessarily like a super drama-focused show that you're on?

VICTORIA ZITO: I mean, absolutely. I think that it's just our real lives, you know? And I think that we all come from different backgrounds, and do different things, and we all help each other out to learn how to navigate this journey together. Because at the end of the day, we're all navigating being American expats in Paris, and that always brings us back down together. So I think it's really refreshing, and it's just the-- it's just our authentic relationships and our lives.

MARGAUX LIGNEL: Yeah, I would agree completely. Like, it's our real life. And obviously, there's bickering, and there's ups and downs. That's all friendships have. But it's really a unique situation to have these girls to lean on, and it's a lot more genuine and wholesome I would say than other franchises.

GIBSON JOHNS: Right. How did you guys get connected? Is it, like, earlier they were saying it's really kind of just friends of friends that connect all of you guys. But how did you guys get in this group?

MARGAUX LIGNEL: We have, like-- sorry, you can go ahead.

VICTORIA ZITO: No, go ahead. Go ahead.

MARGAUX LIGNEL: We have a good handful of mutual friends in New York, and then one of my really good friends put me in touch with her a while before filming even started and all of that. And then we realize we were both doing the show, so we got excited that we're both doing it together. So yes, we were definitely probably the closest prior to filming.

GIBSON JOHNS: That's so fun. That's so fun. And Victoria, you have a big first episode. I mean, at the end of that first episode-- I don't want to necessarily ruin it for-- this will come out before that episode comes out, so I don't want to ruin it for people. But you share something a bit-- something big about your life. And you do it on camera, and I think that, you know, I thought that was very brave, and I commended you for sharing that.

It was an emotional really awesome moment. Was that, like-- was that hard for you to do it on camera like that? Or did you feel, like, OK. I know this is a group that I'm comfortable with, and it doesn't matter if there are cameras there or not.

VICTORIA ZITO: I mean, firstly, you're going to make me tear up. Thank you. It was really hard. But, you know, and it's-- what I end up sharing, I'm really thankful to have my best friend Margaux there next to my side. She had known this for a while, and I think that if I hadn't had her there it would have been a different experience. And as you said, when her and I first met we, like, immediately feel in like best friend love, right?

So, like, we immediately got like so close, and like just having someone-- I think a support system around you is really, really important, especially in super hard topics and things like that. And at the end of the day, and as you see, like, I'm just really thankful for this particular group of girls, you know, and their support and love. And it just makes navigating life a bit easier, especially in Paris.

GIBSON JOHNS: Definitely. And honestly, I'm sure that once that comes out, like, you're going to feel that on such a different scale too. And I think that it's probably hard to prepare for that, but like you're going to feel some love. I'm sure of it.


GIBSON JOHNS: Yeah. And Margaux you have family in Paris. Like you have obviously this group of expats that are kind of a family group for you too, but you have actual family in Paris.

MARGAUX LIGNEL: Yeah. All of them.

GIBSON JOHNS: Right, all of them. And what's that like? Sort of, I mean, because you're charting your own path, and you're figuring out what exactly you want to do moving forward with your life. But you also have these kind of more complex relationships with some of your family members that are also going to be clearly interwoven throughout the show.

MARGAUX LIGNEL: Yeah, so, I mean, I'm facing my family for the first time in a long time. I'm also facing my parents' divorce in Paris. I hadn't lived in Paris since they had divorced. And I'm also facing my relationship with my dad. So it's obviously great to have my family around, and my siblings around, and all of that. But it's also I've always lived, since I was 16, away from them. So not in the same city full time-- even though I see them all the time, it's not the same thing.

GIBSON JOHNS: It's different.

MARGAUX LIGNEL: It's different. So, yeah, this year I really, like, that's a big thing. It's facing my family dynamic and the bumps that come with that.

GIBSON JOHNS: So I brought this up on my other interview, again. But I think obviously the-- for a lot of people, the initial sort of thought when the trailer first dropped it's like, oh, this is like a real life group of Emily in Parises. Right? Like, that's sort of like what-- because I think just because of the cultural relevance of that show over the past couple of years from Netflix has been. Does that prompt like an eye roll from you guys, or is that like, oh, like, ha-ha. Like, that's a natural comparison. Like, how do you think about that comparison because it's a natural one for people to make, right?

MARGAUX LIGNEL: I think it's super natural. I think it's one I would definitely be like, oh, they've made a real life Emily in Paris. They were inspired. Do I think that we are real life Emilies in Paris? No. We have imperfection and perfection, and there's all of that in between. And it's a lot rawer, and it's not so romanticized, and all of that. But it definitely was inspired by that show.

VICTORIA ZITO: Yeah, you know. I agree with Margaux that I think it's common for anyone to make the comparison, especially with how popular Emily in Paris was. But, like, we've been living our lives in Paris prior to Emily in Paris. And I think that our show is a little bit different, or really, honestly, a lot different because this is just our-- it's not scripted, and these are our real lives.

And so I think that it does show a more authentic Paris that I'm really excited to get to share with friends and family, and like, as people, as you know, like, I come from Texas and have family in Louisiana. And, you know, have never been out of the country, and for them to get to see the real life of Paris, not just a glamorized or a romanticized scripted version.

GIBSON JOHNS: And I mentioned earlier, because on the first episode several of you guys kind of described this group as being somewhat of a family for you just because you guys have each other to lean on and whatnot. What kind of roles do you guys both play within the group? Like, for people that are excited about the show, like, what can they expect from you both individually kind of as it kind of pertains to the group?

MARGAUX LIGNEL: I would say that I think I do well at getting along with everyone. I'm a very like a mediator vibe person.

GIBSON JOHNS: Why are you laughing so much? Would you not say the same Victoria?

MARGAUX LIGNEL: No, because I-- but she's my best friend on the show, like, in general. But, like, obviously when you see the show, you'll realize that me and Vic are, like, especially close, as Emily and Anya are, and all of that. There's some friendships or others. But, no, yeah, no. I'm just laughing just because-- I don't know why she's laughing. We're teasing.

VICTORIA ZITO: I'm laughing because you're asking, like, if this was a family who would be who? Obviously, Anya is more of like a mother role in a way. And then like, Emily is, like, one of the fun younger sisters. And I feel like I'm just kind of like that, like, aunt that like is kind of crazy. And it's just like--

GIBSON JOHNS: The fun aunt.

VICTORIA ZITO: About a lot of things. And I'm just laughing-- and I'm laughing because Margaux's like, I'm the mediator. And there are a few-- as, like, you know a little teaser-- there are a few times that Margaux has to be like, Victoria, Victoria, Victoria, Victoria, and I'm like, ah! You know, so, like, there's-- you'll see throughout the season. So that's why I was laughing because she was like, I'm the mediator. And I'm like--


VICTORIA ZITO: That's right.

GIBSON JOHNS: So I'm getting a little teaser about what the dynamic's going to be. I like this. I like this. So Margaux you bring things back down to earth a little bit.

MARGAUX LIGNEL: Yes, I do that. I try to bring her back down to earth.

VICTORIA ZITO: She brings me back down to calm.

GIBSON JOHNS: Right, right. There we go. And do you guy-- do you both feel, like, sort of I guess prepared for what-- because being on a Bravo show, newly on a Bravo show, a completely new series, I mean, there's a lot that comes with that, and just, like, the social media of it all, just added attention in general. Do you feel prepared for that aspect of this?

VICTORIA ZITO: I mean, can you really be prepared for that?

GIBSON JOHNS: Yeah, probably not. Yeah.

VICTORIA ZITO: You know? I think that going back down to us being a family, I think we're really thankful that regardless, at the end of the day, we love and care for each other so much, and that we have each other through this experience. And obviously, we have our-- they say that when you join Bravo, it's kind of like joining a sorority in a way. Like, you can kind of relate to the other Bravo stars in a way.

And we're thankful that we have our elders to look up to and how to do this because this is like a whole new generation of a show. And, you know, I don't think there's really anything that can prepare you for this. The Bravo-- as you know, like, Bravo fans are a whole different level, a whole different ballgame.

GIBSON JOHNS: Totally. Margaux, what about for you?

MARGAUX LIGNEL: Yeah, no. I mean, I don't think it's totally hit me 100%. I think it will when the show is airing, and I get like my first round of, like, people reacting to it. I don't-- I don't know if I'm ready. I think I'm a little-- I'm sensitive as [BLEEP], so I think I need a little thicker skin.

GIBSON JOHNS: Right. Don't look-- just don't look at the comments, and I'm sure they'll be positive, but, yeah.

MARGAUX LIGNEL: There's always going to be hate, but I hope there's more good than bad.

GIBSON JOHNS: Yeah. For sure. For sure. And Victoria, for you, I mean, circling back to the story that you're bringing to the show, it's like, you got married when you were 21, and then you were divorced before filming the show. And does this show represent sort of like a clean slate for you or just sort of like a-- maybe not a clean slate, but just a new beginning, a new start for you in some sort of ways?

VICTORIA ZITO: Absolutely. It's a new chapter, and I think that, as you mentioned, what happens in the first episode, I think this is a whole new chapter for me that I'm really excited about to just truly just living for myself and living for my authentic self. And, you know, it's kind of hard to even say that too because we're always learning and growing and understanding who we are as a person. And I just feel like this is the first time that I'm really just like living for me.

GIBSON JOHNS: And Margaux, as her best friend in the group, does that-- it must make you feel pretty good to watch her embrace that.

MARGAUX LIGNEL: No, I'm so proud of her, and I've been proud of her this whole season. But I think we're both equally proud of each other. We've seen each other go through really like [BLEEP] times and bumpy times, but we both, you know, we got to the other end. And it's exciting, and I'm excited for everyone else to get to watch it.

GIBSON JOHNS: Me too. Well, I think that's all the time we have, but thank you so much, you guys, for taking the time. And I'm excited for everyone to see this show. It's really, it's a fun watch.

MARGAUX LIGNEL: OK. I'm so happy.


GIBSON JOHNS: Bye, guys.


GIBSON JOHNS: Thanks for tuning in to We Should Talk. I hope you enjoyed the interview. You can find out more about In The Know at intheknow.com. You can follow me, Gibson Johns, at gibsonoma on Twitter and Instagram. And you can listen to all of our interviews, past and future, by searching We Should Talk wherever you get your podcasts. Hope to see you next time.