Miami May Be Hot, but Alexia Echevarria Never Sweats the Small Stuff

imageAlexia Echevarria may be one of the most interesting personalities I’ve interviewed. A mother who has struggled with her son’s devastating brain injury, she’s taken her positive outlook and fighting spirit and directed it to his recovery. Having made remarkable progress is a testament that Frankie must be a lot like his mom. Full of surprises, (Did you know she was a special education teacher before her Housewife days?), she’s also very matter of fact and laid back, oh and her accent is even cuter over the phone!

TBB: One of the things I like best about RHOM is that it has become such a visual show. Lots of the eye candy is the fashion. Who are some of the cast’s go to designers?

AE: I can’t speak for my friends because most of them have stylists. For me I’ve always been a fashion person and so I am my own stylist. I like to buy my own clothes and wear my own things. For casual wear I go to BCBG, Robert Rodrigues, Alice and Olivia. I love shopping at Intermix, as they have such great variety. Miami fashion is interesting because of the weather. We have to show more skin so things are often very revealing and colorful!

TBB: Last month you were in NY for Mercedes Benz Fashion week. Which shows were your favorite?

AE: Herve Leger is always one of my faves. Last year I only went to Herve’s show. This year I was in New York but officially I wasn’t able to make it to any shows because of my schedule. I look forward to February when I will do shows all day long! Betsey Johnson is always fun, so is Monique Lhuillier, and Carolina Herrera.

TBB: You are back as a regular cast member this season after taking on a Housewife friend role in season 2. Was your full time return initiated by you or Bravo?

AE: Oh no it was totally initiated by me. Season 2 I decided I couldn’t commit because of my family issues. I wasn’t available emotionally or physically. (Bravo) had never had a situation when one of their cast went through what I went through. They have been very good to me throughout everything. This season they asked me back and I was able to participate completely.

TBB: Frankie has made tremendous progress on the new season. How is he doing today?

AE: Oh my God, thank you for asking! He is doing amazing! He’s like a different child. We are so blessed. He’s in school full time now which is huge; something like that that we take for granted is a very big deal for Frankie. He’s in a special program and has a teacher shadowing him. He’s participating in class with the help of the teacher that he has with him. I’m a former special ed teacher and I taught inclusion, I have always believed in it. They find ways for him to participate, for instance he’s still suffering from aphasia, but he’s getting 100s on his spelling tests which have been modified in a way for him to take them. It’s still a long road. It’s been 2 years and he needs another 2 or 3 years but he’s healing. I see his progress everyday. Now I want him to try out for the basketball team. He’s a little bit scared but we’re all going to help him achieve in everything he does

TBB: Your elder son Peter has had some of his own difficulties, specifically with the law. How is he doing today?

AE: Peter had never been in trouble with the law until Frankie’s accident. All of this was the ramification of what he went through with Frankie. When you go through a tragedy like this it has an effect on the entire family. 100 percent my son has felt the consequences of his actions. I’m not making any excuses for him. The reality is, however, that before Frankie’s accident he’d never been in trouble. He had all this anger because he had to live with that pain. Unless you live through something like this you can’t understand. The Peter you would see today is a totally different child from what you see on TV. He’s in a much better place now.

TBB: When you are on reality television you often have to experience things twice, unlike the average person who goes through their trials and tribulations once. Was it difficult to watch and relive some of these events again?

AE: That is a very good question and I will tell you that it is actually a lot more painful and difficult to watch it. When you are living it at the moment it’s just flowing so you don’t realize it. When you see it on TV for the first time it has a much bigger impact because you are seeing and hearing yourself. You relive that moment again.

TBB: Do you ever have the option to say, “I do NOT want that put on television”?

AE: No, I signed up to do the show and things happen whether the cameras are there or not. I’m a big girl. It’s what happened so how can I tell them not to show something? The network, the producers were good to me when I was going through all of this with my family. They’ve always been very supportive. You can’t blame production or the network because of whatever they show.

TBB: The women on RHOM seem to be divided this season, yet you seem stuck in the middle. Did you have to choose sides eventually?

AE: I know! It’s so uncomfortable! You clearly see the division. It’s not who I am or how I am. It bothers me more that it’s the American girls versus the Latin girls. I’ve proven to both sides that I don’t need to pick sides. I like Lea (Black) and I like Joanna (Krupa). Even Lisa (Hochstein) and I get along. I’m the kind of person that can tell you how I’m feeling and then move on. I didn’t pick sides in high school so I certainly will not as an adult. They need to figure this out between themselves.

TBB: What are your thoughts on Adriana’s (Demoura) marriage scandal?

AE: You know what, Adriana called me when it started coming out and told me her story about her son. When she married Frederic (Marq) and shared the news with Alex he flipped out, and she felt the need to take things back. As a mother I felt for her and I believed her. My kids were very young when I met Herman and they felt the same way. I can relate to that situation.

TBB: What season three filming moment ended up on the cutting room floor that you wish hadn’t?

AE: In season 3 I haven’t experienced that yet. Season 2 I waited until the last minute, I never complained, but I shot a really beautiful scene with Frankie in the water when he was learning to walk during aqua therapy. I wanted to show the viewers how important aqua therapy could be for a child. That to me was the most devastating part. It wasn’t about me, it was about sharing with the world what helped my son. I thought it could have helped so many people in similar situations.

TBB What is your favorite episode of RHOM to date and why?

AE: My favorite episode was season 1 when Herman participated more. I went to the pig farm with Herman and he made me pick out the pig and then we took it home and everyone roasted it. That whole pig thing was a lot of fun I really enjoyed it and it was so memorable.

TBB: Why is Herman no longer on the show?

AE:(Laughs) He’s a very intelligent man. He always says “this is a woman’s show”. He’s also unavailable a lot of times when we are filming because he’s working and we have to travel. It’s actually very healthy for our relationship for him not to be on the show. I don’t know how some of the other couples do it. He doesn’t even watch, I have to beg him. He’ll watch sometimes because of Frankie being on.

TBB Thank you for talking with me. Before you go tell our readers a little bit about Venue Magazine…

AE: Well we are a Spanish magazine and we just celebrated our seventh anniversary last Friday with a big party. Right now we’re working on our holiday issue. We just finished a cover story with an actress from Telemundo. I’ve been integrating myself back into (Venue) because I took 6 months off after Frankie’s accident. I was dedicated to him; bathing him, changing his diapers. (At the time) I had nothing to do with the magazine. Now the driver brings Frankie to my office after school and Peter starts a job at a radio station on Monday. Work is keeping me busy.

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In The Black- An Interview With RHOM’s Lea Black

imageWith a third season on the air, a skincare line, and a unique handbag collection Real Housewife of Miami’s Lea is “in the black”. For those watching the show, you also know she is in the drama, this is Miami after all. Very composed and professional she’s not the easiest Bravoleb to get the dish from, but she kindly answered our questions about Season 3, her falling out with Adriana, her businesses, and her charity work. Take a look…”Bienvenido a Miami!”

TBB: Congratulations on the new season! You’ve been a Miami Housewife since the beginning, however your franchise has the highest turnover with cast even going out and coming back. Why is that?

LB: Some of it is circumstances amongst the girls within their lives. I also feel that Bravo wants to showcase the diversity of Miami and they are established enough to pick and choose who they want to be on the show.

TBB: You look a little different this season. What has changed about your look?

LB: (laughs) Oh I don’t know, I think I probably look the same. Most of the clothes I’ve had for years. I did shorten and straighten my hair a bit but it did grow back out again.

TBB: The big storyline right now is the fallout between you and Adriana (DeMoura). Do you feel she took advantage of you?

LB: I think that she wasn’t completely honest with me. Underneath all that is more than just the marriage – it was the backstabbing that went on right after she had the confrontation with Joanna (Krupa). That’s what started it all. The marriage was one more revelation about who she was and how she’d been acting.

TBB: In the third episode Frederic (Marq) said he was going to send you a threatening text. Did that text ever materialize?

LB: No (laughs) That’s funny.

TBB: Right now it appears the cast is split into two camps, yours being with Lisa (Hochstein) and Joanna. What is it about these two ladies that has bonded you with them?

LB: I just find they are refreshing and just want to have fun. They aren’t strategizing anything or trying to hurt anybody. I just want to have fun.

TBB: We haven’t seen Elaine Lancaster (aka James Davis) yet this season. Will she be back?

LB: James is in it a few times and I believe Elaine was at the fashion show in the beginning – and of course you will see Elaine at the Gala!

TBB: Speaking of that, you are in charge of one of the biggest fundraiser galas on the Miami Social Scene (The Blacks’ Annual Gala). For anyone who doesn’t know tell us about your charity.

LB: We raise money to help keep kids in school and out of jail. We have been able to help thousands by working with after-school programs. It is cheaper to keep these children in school rather than send them to jail. If one kid goes to jail there will be a whole aftermath that will affect the course of his life, and if he stays in school there will be a better outcome. If we can change the world one kid at a time – well what better thing than that to put our time into?

TBB: Have any of the children you have helped come back to tell you about the difference you made in their lives?

LB: Yes they often do. We’ve had some of them speak at The Gala. Some have gone on to graduate college.

TBB: Outside of Housewives you have a couple of business ventures. One is a skincare line, Lea Black Beauty. How did that develop?

LB: I developed my skincare line in the 80’s. During the last couple of years new technology has developed and I’ve added new products. The line includes moisturizer, a serum and face wash and it’s all available at theworldofleablack.com and leablackbeauty.com. I’m really focused on online distribution because I want to make it affordable and available to everyone. However, if stores contact us we can make it available to them, the ones that have sold it have done really well with it.

TBB: Can you tell us about some of the products?

LB: The facial kit is something you can use once or twice a week to lift and tighten. The moisture cream increases the moisture in your skin 400%. I have the clinical studies to support that. Everyone needs a really good face wash which we have as well as an exfoliant that helps slough off dead skin cells. The products will be showcased on the show, so stay tuned!

TBB: You also have a handbag line, Lea Black Handbags. The purse business is a very difficult one to break into as many of the designers have been established for decades and beyond. Other Housewives have tried to break in. What makes your bags different?

LB: My bags are glamourous, timeless “after hours” bags – they’re multi-functional and many women use them in the daytime too. They really are show stoppers and are very affordable in the – $100 to $500 range. I started designing them for myself because I found that it’s hard to find a bag that everything fits into that won’t be out of style in a year or two. I created timeless pieces that you can wear with a pair of jeans or an evening gown. Everyone wants to invest in a bag that won’t become outdated.

TBB: There are so many more questions we’d like to ask you and we hope you will come back and speak with us after Season 3 wraps. Is there anything else you would like people to know about you?

LB: Follow me on twitter @LeaBlackMiami and visit theworldofleablack.com to check out the beauty and handbag lines, as well as my pillows and cuffs! I hope you all enjoy the season and that we keep you entertained and wanting more!

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Lauren Foster-RHOM Season 3 and Her Film with Corey Cann

imageLast season Real Housewives of Miami fans were introduced to Lauren Foster. This season she returns with what many hope wil be more appearances on the show. Recently Lauren made waves on the Miami scene with a steamy film by Corey Cann and Joseph Lally. Lauren told  us some Season 3 secrets as well as the story behind the much talked about piece called Lauren Foster Star.

**The links to Lauren’s films are included below. They are intended for a mature audience**

RHOM is now airing its third season. Has the show wrapped filming yet?

Yes.

Last season you were in a couple of episodes but viewers noticed you. Did you get more Season 3 camera time as a result?

Yes, indeed. The RHOM fans enjoyed my witty banter and, I believe, as a result of this and a larger fan base, I am on camera a lot more this season.

You are very good friends with Marysol (Patton) who has taken on an associate role this season. Do you know why?

Her mother, the fabulous Mama Elsa, was very ill and could not film much. Marysol is very close to her mum and was spending a lot of time with her. I think this is the reason for her associate role in Season 3. I still think she will be in many episodes so the viewers will not be disappointed.

Can you tease any Season 3 storylines for us?

Obviously the two weddings are the stars of the season. Be prepared for lots of drama, betrayal, brides and a lot of fun! The producers, Purveyors of Pop, really amped up production and cinematography this season.

Corey Cann, is an actor and model with whom you recently starred in a short art film titled LAUREN FOSTER STAR. The film was directed by Joseph Lally. Can you tell us about the film?

I was introduced to Joe, via Daphne Guinness. I admired the film he made with her, The Murder of Jean Seberg and we talked a couple of times before he offered us this movie. Corey is an incredibly talented actor and writer and he wrote this piece. Much of his writing here is based on a snapshot of our life, with his special talent of mixing metaphors and perspective into the film. It is raw and fearless and we really bare our souls. It was a difficult film to make because of this.

According to the NY Post “art imitated life” and you two ended up involved in a, and I quote, a “torrid affair.” Tell us a bit more.

We met through mutual friends and immediately knew we would be close. We share a very special bond, and both have a laissez faire attitude toward life. We care about each other and he has a huge future ahead of him. He is deep and contemplative and is always thinking about the underdog. It’s a
sweet trait.

Is there anything else you would like to share regarding RHOM, your recent press, and things you would like to promote?

I finished LAUREN FOSTER STAR – Episode 2 last month and will be making another film with Joe Lally in October. I have started working on my autobiography  (which will be titled) Just Another Girl. I work with GLAAD and, along with Marysol Patton, Sarah Arison and Omar Sharif, Jr, we are launching the Miami Leadership Council with a cocktail party in October and gala in February. Marysol and I also filmed a PSA for GLAAD, which will air later this year.