Crystal Kung Minkoff on Being 'RHOBH' 's First Asian American Housewife, Tackling Racial Issues on Show

"It's a huge honor and a huge responsibility," says Crystal Kung Minkoff of being the first Asian American on RHOBH

crystal kung minkoff
Photo: Crystal Kung Minkoff/Instagram

Crystal Kung Minkoff was certainly familiar with The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills as a viewer, but she admits that joining the cast was a bit of an adjustment.

"I was a little bit like a deer in headlights," Minkoff, 38, tells PEOPLE of the show's new season, premiering Wednesday on Bravo. "But all the girls were helpful and sweet. It wasn't like, 'We're going to try to make you look bad.' It was, 'We'll help you out!'"

Minkoff, who is wed to prolific filmmaker Rob Minkoff, has two children — Max, 8, and Zoe, 6 — and is also co-founder of Real Coco, a coconut-based food and beverage company. Joining a reality show wasn't necessarily top of mind.

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crystal kung minkoff
Crystal Kung Minkoff with her family. Crystal Kung Minkoff/Instagram

"It never occurred to me," says Minkoff. "But then Kathy [Hilton, Minkoff's longtime friend and fellow new Housewife] called me and said she was thinking of joining and hoped I would think about it. It made me feel so much better to know that there was someone I could trust."

Her role as RHOBH's first Asian American is not one Minkoff took lightly. "It's a huge honor and a huge responsibility I feel to represent not only Chinese Americans, but all AAPI," she says. "And with the uprise of anti-Asian hate, it's a collective problem."

Tackling racial issues during filming proved to be a learning experience for all. "Sometimes the conversations were challenging," says Minkoff. "Everyone comes from different perspectives and from different backgrounds. But we have to move the needle. And the more conversations there are, the more understanding."

Season 11 of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills premieres Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on Bravo.

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