Cynthia McFadden, Gayle King and Blythe Danner at the Bar

School is back in session! The faithful have returned to Michael’s and the place was buzzing with activity as the media mavens, talking heads and social swells sailed into the dining room. Table One (Cynthia McFadden, Lesley Stahl and a host of other power gals) was the center of gravity, while the rest of the dining room was a tasty mix of spinmeisters (Gil Schwartz),  fashionistas (Julie Macklowe) and literary types (Long time no see, David Hirshey).

I was joined today by two of the stars of Bravo’s Gallery Girls, the freshman reality series chronicling the professional lives of seven ambitious New York gals toiling in the “cutthroat environment” (according to the show’s press release) of the New York City art world.  Oh, the pressure! Kerri Lisa and Claudia Martinez are not your average Bravo-lebrities. The two gorgeous — and tall! — young women were downright earnest in describing their experience as twentysomethings in the city and their commitment to their careers. ” I don’t like drama. I’m pretty even keeled,” Kerri told me. “I think I have an inspiring story. I’ve built this little life for myself that shows if you work hard and are passionate about it, you can do it.” As for Claudia, she wants to concentrate more on “philanthropic” works in the coming years. Not exactly a page out of Nene Leaks’ handbook.

Kerri Lisa, Claudia Martinez, Diane Clehane and Julia Nietsch

Having filmed the series over the course of four months last year, both Kerri and Claudia agree it’s a bit difficult watching themselves now on the show. “I can’t even listen to myself on my answering machine,” Kerri told me. “It’s interesting, because you rarely get the chance to see yourself the way other people might see you,” said Claudia. Even if the producers went for the most Bravo-esque snippets of otherwise everyday scenarios, she continued, “I said everything and did everything they showed and I’m comfortable with that.”

Kerri, who grew up on Long Island and graduated from Syracuse University in 2009, says the series showed just “the tip of the iceberg” when it comes to how hard the cast works in real life. Unlike some of the other women on the show, Kerri didn’t know anyone from the cast and was pretty much on her own when it came to dealing with the rest of the women. “I didn’t trust anyone in the beginning and still don’t,” she told me. Having gone to college fully expecting to follow in the footsteps of her family members that work in investment banking, Kerri told me her eyes were opened to other possibilities during college internships in public relations and at a luxury concierge service.  She changed her major to entrepreneurship and landed in the art world. “I want to work for myself s0meday.” Doesn’t everybody?

Claudia, who hails from Flossmoor, Illinois, has always been drawn to art. While studying at Sarah Lawrence she did a number of internships in the city including one at the famed Larry Gagosian gallery. Her latest venture is End of Century, a hip boutique and gallery space on the Lower East Side. Being on the show, says Claudia, has “increased foot traffic” for the space. She says when she graduated in 2010, the art market had “bottomed out” and it was those college internships which gave her the edge over the competiton. “They taught me about real life while still in school.”

Still, say the women, some of the criticism from the art world about the show has stung. “There has been some backlash. We are real women who are working hard,” says Claudia. “We’re not these spoiled rich girls driving around the suburbs in expensive cars. We’re out there making a living.” Would they sign up for season two should Bravo want to continue? Claudia told me, “I’ll see where I am” before deciding. As for Kerri, she’s game and hoping that if there is a second season, she can “have more fun” and “let more of my personality come through.”  On the subject of the fickle finger of reality show stardom, just as the women were musing on their future with the show, an unabashed fan stopped by our table to gush about her favorite Gallery Girls. “I love your show,”  she told them. Turning to Kerri she said, “You’re much prettier in person!” Then she offered this assessment of Claudia: “You’re gorgeous!” The season finale airs October 1.