Construction CEO Barbara Kavovit Is Bravo's Newest Real Housewives of New York City Star: Sources
The Real Housewives of New York City have a new Housewife!
Sources tell PEOPLE that Barbara Kavovit has joined the cast of the hit Bravo franchise for its upcoming eleventh season, alongside Ramona Singer, Bethenny Frankel, Luann de Lesseps, Sonja Morgan, and Tinsley Mortimer, who are all expected to return.
The Bronx-born businesswoman and mother to a college-age son will be a full-time Housewife, replacing outgoing cast member Carole Radziwill, who announced she was leaving the show in July.
A rep for Bravo had no comment about her casting, but Kavovit has been spotted filming test scenes with the New York City Housewives at a few events, including Frankel’s SkinnyGirl Jeans launch, where she danced alongside Frankel, Morgan, and de Lesseps.
She was also with de Lesseps and Singer at the opening of Bluebird London earlier this month, though that event wasn’t filmed.
All has gone well so far, with Kavovit getting the official Housewives spot recently. She joined returning cast members on Monday as they filmed the opening sequence for the new season.
“Barbara is a no-nonsense chick,” a source close to the cast tells PEOPLE. “She’s already known many of these women for ages, and has been a great fit so far. She doesn’t back down from a fight and isn’t afraid to speak her mind.”
“She’s a perfect Housewife in the sense that she’s glamorous and fun and outgoing,” a second source tells PEOPLE. “She’s really young at heart and very sweet. She’s very successful as a businesswoman and always tries to push a women’s empowerment message through her construction company work.”
An entrepreneur, Kavovit spent years leading Anchor Construction, one of the largest female-owned general contracting companies. She’s currently CEO and founder of another construction company, Evergreen Construction, which offers top-to-bottom construction management services to clients in the Big Apple.
Under the name Barbara K, Kavovit has launched a nationally distributed line of tools marketed toward women, DIYVA, been a columnist for the New York Daily News and a home improvement correspondent on the WE network, designed homes for stars like Linda Evangelista and Amber Valletta, and written two books. She has a third in the works: a novel about a young woman who wants to build the tallest skyscraper in New York City.
In April 2017, Kavovit told PEOPLE she hopes to encourage young women to break into her still-male-dominated field, but notes times haven’t changed that much. “Today, when I walk onto a job site I still get the looks — whether it’s a guy whistling at me or someone who tests me, because they can’t imagine that I know what I should know about [the job]. I believe that you have to be two, three, four times better, always, than your male counterpart in this industry.”
RHONY fans might recognize Kavovit, as she has a history with the show, too.
She appeared in a season 9 episode, where she was heard speaking negatively about de Lesseps’ soon-to-be wedding to now-ex-husband Tom D’Agostino, Jr., in an off-camera conversation with Radzill. “I think she has something to prove,” Kavovit said, production picking up her microphone. “She’d rather go through with it and get divorced than call it off.”
Before that episode aired in May 2017, Kavovit went to court to try to get an injection against the network to keep the audio from being aired, Page Six reported. A judge threw the case out.
All of that is in the past now. “No one cares about that,” the first source tells PEOPLE. “Producers just want a good TV show, and so far, Barbara is bringing that.”
Adds an insider, “She’s been friends with Luann for a while. They fell out last year as Barbara was the one who was recorded off mic talking about Tom and Luann fighting at a party. They’ve since made up.”
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