Married to Medicine’s Dr. Contessa Metcalfe has had a year similar to everyone else’s. She’s been trying to keep her loved ones safe from the COVID-19 pandemic while balancing the job of wife, mother and physician during uncertain, tumultuous times. She’s also partnered with the Kleenex brand to help people get through an especially challenging cold and flu season. She’s looking to keep her family happy and well, and also help others to stay healthy. So when Bravo released the first trailer for the upcoming eighth season of Married to Medicine, Metcalfe says she was proud of how the producers managed to incorporate current events into it as much as the drama we’ve come to expect over the years from the series. In one scene highlighted in the trailer, the group travels to Washington D.C. for a meeting with Al Sharpton, and later at a rally, the physicians work as a collective to encourage bypassers to get tested for COVID. There is serious depth in Season 8. But of course, there are the confrontations and heated moments people also tune in for, including one between Dr. Contessa and husband Scott Metcalfe where they struggle to confront their issues.
Ahead of Married to Medicine’s newest season, we sat down with Dr. Contessa to learn more about balancing family and her dreams. We also learned more about what we can expect from the new season, as well as explored her tips for getting through another season — cold, flu and COVID.
MadameNoire: What items should we be sure to keep at home during these brutal winter months?
Dr. Contessa Metcalfe: Of course, with this being cold and flu season, in addition to COVID season, one thing I always keep on hand is my Kleenex Soothing Lotion [tissue]. The reason is because even when your nose isn’t running when you have some sort of infection, we’re always kinda dealing with that in cold weather or when the weather’s changing. It’s just always much safer to use something disposable like a Kleenex brand tissue and what I love about Soothing Lotion is that it’s infused with Vitamin E, coconut oil and aloe, helping to moisturize the facial skin, which is so important especially in these dry winter months when all we’re doing is trying to stay moisturized and prepare for the summer.
A lot of us are just now discovering things like echinacea tea to combat illness. Can you name anything else we ought to be storing in our cabinets right now?
Probably the most common thing that people don’t have on hand when they need them is some sort of anti-inflammatory because if they are indeed coming down with something, the best thing to do is ward it off at the pass.
And the best thing I believe you can do to protect yourself, believe it or not, is to eat well. Food is medicine and so the better your nutritional status is, if you were to come down with something, the more apt you are to recover very quickly. And what that means is that the plant-based diet is actually the new science. The data has been around for a couple of decades now and more of these tests and studies are coming out that are just proving that you should do your best to keep your plate colorful. It’s not only about eating something green. Like, if you’re eating cabbage, try purple cabbage. Eggplant. Squash. Try to get as many nutrients as you can naturally. There are some things you just can’t really get enough of. For instance, vitamin D. Black people in particular, of course, have low levels of Vitamin D unfortunately because we just can’t get enough of it. That’s one supplement that I would definitely recommend.
But for the most part? Food, food, food. Eating well and trying to stay away from processed foods and things that aren’t gonna serve any nutritional value.
Moving on to Married to Medicine, is there anything you think viewers should be paying special attention to this season?
One thing I’ll say that the network did well this year was to capitalize on what was going on in the world and not just what’s going on in our homes. So we really covered the civil rights movement of 2020. They covered the pandemic and the effect it had on everyone and of course, it covered us as physicians and clinicians with families.
So that’s another perspective that I don’t know that a lot of people will understand. The fear that the world was living in was also the fear that we were living in. We didn’t know anything about the virus and we’re still learning. So I thought that was great. It wasn’t just about arguing, it wasn’t just about relationships, but it was tackling current events.
Speaking of the pandemic, what is going on down there in Atlanta? How do you feel about how COVID is being handled in your city?
Like, wide open? Like there is no COVID? [laughs]
Right! Particularly as a doctor watching all this happen…
It’s challenging! The major challenge is just reinforcing the things that we know work. Like social distancing, right? Wearing a mask if you can’t maintain that six-foot distance. Washing your hands. Making sure that you’re doing the best you can to not spread the infection. So a lot of things like going to lot of parties and going to clubs and having big events, those type of things right now are just over.
And it’s been challenging for us. We all love eating out and having a good time with a lot of friends, but it’s just not a healthy idea at this moment. We have to make sure we have fresh air of course. I am not advocating just staying inside and not getting fresh air. Go outside. Exercise. That’s another reason I really love Kleenex tissues. I keep ‘em on me because when I run, it’s not a cold, it’s actually just that nasal motor. So if you keep them on you because when you’re walking past people you want to cover your face, especially if you’re talking, because we learned that you’re more easily transmitting the virus as you’re talking. So it’s nice to have something that you can hold in front of you and dispose of, without worrying about germs being on your hands.
What are your thoughts on Lisa Marie Cloud and Kari Wells returning to the show this season?
I came on in Season 4 so I didn’t meet them really, outside of it just being in passing or at a couple of events. I’ve seen them around being that [Kari] and I are actually neighbors, so back in the olden days — 2019, 2020 — we went to the same gym.
But it’s been nice to see how their lives changed dramatically, even from what I watched on the show. Lisa Nicole’s kids are in high school now and last time viewers saw them, they were my kids’ age. Same thing with [Keri], her children are in high school as well, so it’s nice to see that, what the challenges are with them now and what they’ve been doing.
Are you still hoping to become surgeon general one day?
It’s so funny because I do, but some of the challenges with the position as I’m sure you may have noticed on television, it’s a very political career choice and you aren’t always able to “carte blanche.” Like in medicine. If I want to prescribe Medicine ‘X’ to you and I want to refer you to someone, I have autonomy and I can do that but when you’re in a public position like that, there are a lot of bosses and they put external pressure on you. Now more than ever!
Most people probably never even knew who the surgeon general was before the past couple of years. So it just gave another dynamic. But absolutely. It’s definitely still a dream, but I think I’m also more realistic about what I’m able to do and how much it really is not just all about one person. It’s a lot of pressure from other places. To me, it was kind of sad. Dr. [Jerome] Adams [surgeon general from 2017-2021] is a fantastic physician and I don’t know that we got actually to see what he was fully capable of doing. He got a raw deal.
Do either you or your husband have any regrets about sharing as much as you have on the show?
The only time that’s uncomfortable is when someone walks up to you and just starts talking to you and giving you very intimate advice like they know you. But for the most part, I don’t. I really value transparency and it’s been very cathartic for me.
I grew up in a family where we didn’t really talk about a lot of stuff. There was always an elephant in the room. That’s actually emotionally and physically toxic, and a lot of people don’t understand how much anxiety and depression can be rooted from holding things in and not being able to release them. So it’s been freeing, and every time something comes out that I was like, “Eh… I wasn’t comfortable sharing that but here we go…” I feel better. I feel lighter and I realize that no one’s perfect. Actually, last night my daughter was doing some homework and she got so frustrated that she actually started crying, and so I just told her, “Let me tell you a secret: Perfection is the biggest lie.” It’s a lot but since I’ve learned that seeking perfection is not realistic, it’s not on my radar. I’m not even trying to do that anymore.
You’re actually inspiring so many women that need to see that representation on TV: a wife and mother going after her dreams, even when certain people can’t understand. Even the ones you love.
That feels good because we, especially as women, once we become mothers, all the rest of our goals and our vision boards are supposed to fall to the wayside. But I always say, “Kids keep growing, even if you don’t.” So I don’t know where that came from where we’re not supposed to grow anymore because we get married and have children. If mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy. So it’s actually better for them to see, especially with two little girls, that you can do [anything]. Kids don’t hold you back, they inspire you.”