THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA -- Pictured: Tanya Sam -- (Photo by: Annette Brown/Bravo)
Photo: Bravo/Annette Brown/Bravo
Photo: Bravo/Annette Brown/Bravo

Interview with Tanya Sam, new ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’ friend

Originally posted Monday, December 24, 2018 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Tanya Sam, on paper, brings an intriguing blend of fashion and technology to the table for “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.”

But the producers chose to make her a “friend” instead of a full-time castmate. So far, after eight episodes, Tanya has only gotten modest air time and not much of her story has been revealed. This is not unusual for secondary characters.

I spoke to her earlier this month about herself and why she chose to be on the show. She called on her birthday from Bangkok, where she was vacationing. Based on her profile, it’s clear she is not doing this for the money.  Here are excerpts:

Who is she exactly? She’s of mixed heritage. Her dad is from West Africa, her mom is English. A Toronto native, she received a degree at McGill University in Montreal in genetics and cell biology. She spent time studying the human genome. But she found that too isolating so she received a second degree in nursing at the University of Toronto. 

She was an oncology nurse at Northside Hospital for several years before switching careers a few years ago after she began dating technologist and investor Dr. Paul Judge. She now works with tech entrepreneurs to build their companies at an incubator-type operation in Midtown. (It’s called TechSquare Labs.) 

None of this has been mentioned on the show. Any reference to her technology bonafides have been vague at best. She has been engaged to Judge for three years. No marriage date has been set. “People ask me all the time,” she said. 

Why she decided to take part on the show: “I’ve lived in Atlanta for seven years and have done a lot of business here. I spent a lot of time working in hospitals and now in technology. I wear a lot of hats. When I was asked to join and get to know the ladies, I thought of the viewers it touches. I wanted to showcase and show off different paths of success via technology... People are happy to see some new energy on the show, see a different lifestyle. Most of the women on the show so far have been in entertainment.” 

Her closest connection to an existing cast member: She shopped at Swagg Boutique, NeNe Leakes’ Duluth shop. “We became friends from that,” Tanya said. NeNe then recommended her to the Bravo producers.

Who else she’s gotten along with so far: The newcomers, Eva  Marcille and Shamari DeVoe, wife of Ronnie DeVoe of New Edition/Bell Biv DeVoe fame. (As a Canadian, Tanya wasn’t that familiar with New Edition.)

Potential for social media blowback being on a reality show: “I don’t worry about what people think. What really matters to me is what my partner, what Paul thinks, his reaction.”


“The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” 8 p.m. Sundays, Bravo

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.