Alexia 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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