Chanel Ayan Is Doing the Most, Being the Realest and Bootlegging 'The Real Housewives' (Interview)

Chanel Ayan on The Real Housewives of Dubai

"There's a lot of betrayals, darling."

That's what breakout star of The Real Housewives of Dubai Chanel Ayan has to say regarding the show's second season, and if my interview with her is any indication, there will be plenty of fireworks to come. In just 20 minutes, the African supermodel and reality TV star comments on co-star Caroline Stanbury's recent plastic surgery, explains that her fellow cast members had limited access to Beyoncé's infamous private Dubai concert and bluntly declares that since Season 1, "I'm the only one that's done stuff in the group." I'm sure that her five Dubai co stars would beg to differ.

But Ayan certainly has the receipts to back up her bold claims and big personality. She's an extremely successful model with a rolodex of A-list fashion connections. She's recently launched Ayan Beauty, her own makeup line. Not to mention she made a name for herself instantly by being THE fashion girl of The Real Housewives, arriving to low-key events in wigs, ball gowns, jewels and headpieces unlike anything previously seen on Bravo. Even Dorit Kemsley and Jenna Lyons pale in comparison to Chanel's over-the-top ensembles.

In Season 1, Chanel managed to stir up trouble with nearly every member of the cast, becoming the most watchable of Dubai housewives. But when she wasn't fighting with Stanbury or Caroline Brooks, she also divulged a sensitive side, often confiding in her bestie Lesa Milan and opening up to the group about surviving female genital mutilation (FGM) at the age of five. Since airing, Ayan has been a fierce advocate against FGM and hopes her makeup line and reality TV presence will bring awareness to the issue.

Now on the cusp of Season 2, Ayan is ready to bring another dose of drama. She's seemingly best friends with her former enemy Caroline Stanbury, she's shaved her head, and she's hanging out with *checks notes* Blue Ivy Carter? Ahead of the premiere on June 2, Parade sat down with Chanel (head shaved and donning a custom breast plate/skirt ensemble) to get the scalding hot Dubai tea. Here's what Ayan had to say:

Matthew Huff: Okay, I love this outfit. Can we talk about that to start?

Chanel Ayan: Yes. So do you know when Britney Spears shaved her head because she was going through stuff? I'm living in my "Britney B-tch" era. I'm just like everywhere, loving life and trying to figure out who I am, living it in the best way. And then this is so pretty. [Stands up and walks back in the room to show off the full outfit.] It was made to fit my whole body. It's super sexy, super glam. You know me, darling.

How do you put your looks together on the show? Do you have a stylist? Do you pick out stuff yourself? 

I don't have a stylist. I've been a model for 20 years, so I've worked with so many designers, and I became friends with them. They became like family. Like, I'm very good friends with Valentino House. I'm very good friends with Dior. I'm very good friends with Michael Cinco, who dresses Beyoncé. Amato, Harvey Cenit. This outfit is made specifically just for me. I was so lucky in that way that I get to be dressed. And also it's a job because I have to wear their stuff while making coins.

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This season you have this iconic red flower confessional look. How did that come about?

I did not want to wear a wig. So I said to the designer, "I want you to make me something crazy that covers my forehead. I want something like crazy and big." He goes, "Okay, I'll do something." He made me this smaller version of the headpiece I ended up wearing, and I was like, "No, no, no, grow it. Let's make an afro out of flowers. Let's go big."

You have to see my third look. My third look [hoots] is the best one. I love! I had people saying it's too much, but I'm like, "Girl, it's not my problem. You be too less. I want to be too much."

Related: Here's When Every 'Real Housewives' Franchise Is Coming Back

Let's talk about Season 2. What in your life has changed since finishing Season 1? How has the show affected you?

I think I'm the only one that's done stuff in the group. Like, I have a viral saying, "Never, ever, ever, ever be basic for nobody. Honey, shine bright, let them burn." I walked a show with Naomi Campbell. I walked a show with Bella Hadid. I walked a show with Ikram Abdi. I traveled. I was at the Beyoncé concert [in Dubai for the 2023 opening of Atlantis The Royal], and I invited my friend Lesa [Milan] as my plus one. And then I've been in London for BAFTAS, partying, like living my best life, fashion weeks in Paris. I've been in Vogue six times. Ayan Beauty's been in Vogue. I've just been killing. You know, my son is graduating this week. We're taking him to the Maldives to celebrate.

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How did the Ayan Beauty makeup line come about? 

I've always loved makeup, it makes me feel good about myself. And I've been wearing makeup in every fashion show for the last 20 years. I've always wanted to own a business that's worldwide. It was my dream. I used to sell bananas in my head. I now book models in Dubai.

Growing up with nothing, clothes broken, broken family. I was like, "I need to do something to change my family's name." I wanted that for me. And I want to bring awareness to FGM [female genital mutilation] through my brand, because that's something that happened to me. [Editor's note: Ayan survived FGM at the age of five and talked openly about her experience on Season 1 of the show.] I want to help. I want to go to countries to stop this because a lot of countries are bringing back FGM. The New York Times just said countries are bringing back FGM, and we're in 2024.

I was also like, "I need to make money." I want to be Bethenny Frankel rich, Kyle Richards rich. You know what I mean? Like, I want to be Rihanna rich. Like this is my dream, and I'm achieving it. We've been selling out and restocking, selling out and restocking.


I sold so much in BravoCon, I was telling Andy Cohen like, "Look how much I've sold." He's like, "Oh my God, I'm so happy for you." I started my makeup two weeks before we went to BravoCon. The fans were amazing to support me. I was crying every time they were buying my stuff cause I never expected that, you know?

Nicole Scherzinger is very good friends with [Caroline] Stanbury. [Nicole] said, "I need to get my makeup done." Stanbury goes, "Yeah, I will get Ayan Beauty to do your makeup." So we did her makeup. She tagged us.

When Beyoncé was in Dubai, she booked all the Ivy Park models from me. The makeup was done by Ayan Beauty. We did all the dancers. Beyoncé's mom [Tina Knowles] reached out to us to do her makeup. So like we're getting there.

Related: The 'Real Housewives of Dubai' Net Worths, Ranked: Who Is the Richest?

So I need to know more about the Beyoncé situation. What was it like going to the Dubai concert, hanging out with her mom? Did you meet Beyoncé?

I did not get to meet Beyoncé, but I did meet Jay-Z. I did meet Blue [Ivy Carter] at dinner because my cousin Sabrina Elba is married to Idris Elba. [Idris and Beyoncé] did a movie [Obsessed] together, so I got to go to all the coolest places none of the other housewives could go because my cousin got me in there. I got to meet Chloe Bailey. I got to meet all the [Black Panther: Wakanda Forever] actors. I was at dinners with them, lunches with them. I got to talk to Beyoncé's mom. She knows our show. How crazy is that?

Speaking of cousins, your cousin, Ubah Hassan is on The Real Housewives of New York. How often are you in touch? Do you talk about filming?

I was just talking to her yesterday. She was telling me what's happening in their filming. So I know everything that's going on. She's my cousin. We talk all the time. We're so different. She's more chill than I am, but in a good way. I call her Olivia Pope. You know, like she's got her shit together and I don't. She seems like she's having a great time this season and they're all having fun. So I'm really excited for her.

Would you ever film a show together or go on Ultimate Girls Trip?

I ever do Ultimate Girls Trip, there is no way I want to do it without Ubah. I will literally put in my contract, "My cousin Ubah has to be available for me to do it." I already told Bravo. I also want to do it with Kenya Moore and Teresa Giudice, but they've already done it. Kylie Richards, like all my girls. Maybe Sutton [Stracke] and Garcelle [Beauvais]. The Grand Dame [Karen Huger]. I'd love to do it with Grand Dame.

Do you watch all the other franchises?

I am lucky that I have friends in Housewives. They send me the links before, because we don't have it in Dubai. So I get to watch it. Tonight I'm actually gonna try to talk to Tamara Judge, because we don't have that friendship yet where she can send me her links. I'm a fan of Housewives now. I'm like, "Why did I take it so long to know this show?"

The Real Housewives of Dubai has a new housewife this season in Taleen Marie. Did you know her beforehand? What were your first impressions of her in the cast?

We met at Stanbury's birthday party before we filmed Season 1, so I met her there. She's a fun girl. I love that she's in the group. She's funny, she's crazy as me, she's outgoing and she spices the stuff up. So she's good, I like her.

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It looks like this season, you and Stanbury become better friends. You were butting heads the first season. How did that relationship take such a turn?

You know, I'm Somali. If you follow anything about us, we fight all the time. We're in a war for 40 years. I just wanted to give up fighting with her at the reunion. When I gave her the fire extinguisher, I said, "Let's start fresh." I meant it.

That year before we filmed Season 2, we were calling each other, meeting for lunches, doing dinners with our families and stuff like that. We got to know each other from there. My friendship with her is so easy for me. She's so supportive. She wants the best for me.

Also, I like her new face. She looks so young. She looks cute. Like the old one that I was pissed off at is gone and dead, like done. I like this new shiny little pretty thing, you know?

I'm not the type of person that wants to hold grudges. Like, it's not that deep. She didn't hurt my family. We can move on.

A bunch of the other housewives were on this last season of The Traitors. Would you want to ever be on a competitive reality TV show?

I love Phaedra [Parks]. You know, me and Phaedra, we're always coming for each other, but I love that girl so much. She knows it because we talked about it at BravoCon. We hugged each other. I love the girl. She is so good at Traitors. Don't choose me as a Traitor. Just bring me to compete with Alan [Cumming] with my looks. Bring me for the fun.

Next, Everything to Know About 'The Traitors' Season 3