Heather Dubrow – Miss Congeniality

imageOnce voted the “nicest” person in New York, Heather Dubrow was also voted “too New York” for The Real Housewives of Orange County. Having been passed over by producers for Season 5 she was called again for Season 7. Despite her East Coast black wardrobe and lack of highlights and self tanner, she’s quickly become a RHOC fan favorite. Notoriously the only Housewife I claimed to “dislike”, I recently caught up with Heather to find out more about Orange County’s dark horse and why she’s winning over OC fans, everywhere.

TBB: Many people may not know you have a pageant history. Tell us about it:

HD: (laughs) Oh my…I went to Syracuse (University) as a musical theatre major. In that program the girls do the pageants. Vanessa Williams, whose brother I grew up with, was also in that program and also did it, you all know how that turned out (laughs). It’s a good opportunity to be seen singing on stage. There was no American Idol or The Voice then. Other than Star Search there was no way to be seen. So I entered one in Syracuse and I won. Then I entered New York and won Miss Congeniality. They asked everyone what it means to be a good friend and, I guess they liked my answer so much that for about a year I was the “nicest” girl in the state of New York. It still benefits me now because through the pageant experience I learned a lot about doing interviews and being able to walk and talk at the same time.

TBB:From 2000 to 2002 you starred in CBS’s That’s Life for which, I read, you composed the theme song. You’ve also sung at weddings and other big events. Why don’t you showcase your musical talents on RHOC?

HD: It reads that way but in reality I just sang it, I didn’t write it. (After college)I thought I’d do Broadway but a series of events lead to TV. I had a musical background, no money and was singing at Disneyland. There I met this guy and we sang at weddings and parties. Soon we started playing corporate gigs. While I was doing that I was getting little TV parts, meeting agents, etc. At last year’s finale party (the producers) wanted me to sing, but it felt inauthentic to me. I don’t sing all the time anymore. I also kept having problems with my voice for the last year and a half. I’ve been seeing doctors for ulcerated vocal cords. One had me not talk for three weeks straight, not even a peep! Surgery is a last resort, and I’m hoping it resolves itself. Tamra (Barney) has asked me to sing at her wedding so I’m trying to get my voice back for that.

TBB: So no plans to release a single like many Housewives have?

HD: No I really don’t think so. I love singing and I love performing and it’s been a big part of my life. I guess never say never. I recently saw Rita Wilson and she put out an album. But for right now I’ve been doing a bunch of scripted TV, which I love and I miss. They’ve caught some of that for the upcoming season and I’m glad people will see me in my element.

TBB: Yes, you’ve recently resurrected your acting career with guest roles on sitcoms like Hot In Cleveland. Was joining the Housewives cast a strategy to help jump-start your return to acting?

HD: No, I actually thought it would do the exact opposite. I thought it would be the nail in the coffin of what had been my career which was part of the reason that I didn’t (initially) want to do it. I was a snob about the Reality genre and felt it was a step down. I’ve learned that work begets work, exposure is exposure, and if you stay true to your brand it could help.

TBB: Your husband, Terry, has previously been on Reality TV as one of the surgeons on the makeover show The Swan (2004). Did his experience influence your decision to do Housewives?

HD: He was on The Swan, Bridalplasty (2010), a lot of Reality TV. He was very comfortable with these shows and he saw the value of being on a show like (Housewives). He had a lot to do with me being on the show. I had met with producers the year Alexis (Bellino) joined the cast. I had never seen the show, but they called my husband and said “We want to meet your wife.” They said they were going to hire all new people so I met with them and had all my friends meet with them. At the end of the day they felt I was “too New York” to be on the show. Terry said “Thank God you didn’t get it. They’re mean and they throw wine at each other.” The next year when they asked if I’d be interested again, I said “No thank you.”The year after I was pitching a show with my friends about opening a restaurant. By this point I was a big fan of Beverly Hills because Terry knew Paul (Nassif) and we would watch it to see him and Adrienne (Maloof), however I was scared because I heard the OC girls were really mean and crazy. (My friends and I) had offers from production companies,but they wanted us open before they filmed even a sizzle reel. That and my husband convinced me to give (Housewives) a try.

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TBB: We saw you explore your desire to open a restaurant on Season 7. Is that project still in the works?

HD: Yes. We’ve partnered up with Fabio Viviani from Top Chef (Season 5). I love him and I love his partners. We just went to his restaurant opening in Chicago. His group is amazing and I’m excited to be opening with him! We found a location that is being built so we are looking at a 2014 opening.

TBB: Last season you were the new girl on the OC block, but quickly rose to the top of what New York Housewife Sonja Morgan would refer to as “the pecking order.” What do you think it is about you that has related so well with the fans as well as the other women on the show?

HD: Thank you for saying that. My opinion is that I think the audience can smell BS. When someone comes on and is authentically themselves you respond to it. I feel like I came on as myself. I was honest. When I’m saying something it’s because I mean it.

TBB: Your background is in scripted stage and TV, was it difficult to be natural and not act for the cameras?

HD: I think it’s just a challenge to not have a script. You are held accountable for anything and everything that comes out of your mouth. We are human beings and have bad days. When you do it on camera it’s there to be played over and over again. In fact I felt very on edge the first half of the season.

TBB: How do you feel about how you were portrayed and the way you treated Alexis and Sarah (Winchester) last season and what is your relationship with them now?

HD: Sarah, I don’t see or speak to her at all. I don’t think I did anything to her. She acted pretty outrageous every time I saw her. From what I understand Gretchen (Rossi) hadn’t seen her behave that way before. She’s a single mom and I wish her well, but I don’t have any problem with how I reacted to her. As far as Alexis things were said on both sides and things get blown out of proportion. Every time Alexis and I hung out together I feel like things were taken and said the wrong way. When I asked about her house selling versus renting it was just conversation. She got upset and I got upset. The one thing I regret is when we were in Costa Rica. I should have said at the table “let’s not talk about this now.” I don’t regret the conversation, but when everyone else gets involved it becomes a whole different ballgame. The next day I went to her room to talk. We are in a much much better place now.

TBB: I read that in Season 8 we will see you struggle to balance family and career. What are some things you’ve discovered about being a working mom that surprised you?

HD: I think it’s important for women to want to work. You need to be a complete whole person. I’m surprised how much easier it is to go to work, but I think what surprised me most was that Terry, who is really supportive and great, really wasn’t that supportive at the beginning. It’s a conflict that resonates throughout the season with us.

TBB: It’s been reported that you are moving…

HD: Yes. Twice…isn’t that crazy? Someone knocked on our door in December and made an offer we couldn’t refuse. Now we have to move to a furnished rental while our house is being built.

TBB: Is there anything else you would like people to know about you?

HD: I definitely read Twitter and try to answer whenever I can. I like getting people’s feedback. Even though you weren’t that crazy about me in the beginning, none of it was mean. There will be people who will hate, but I can’t imagine people sit down behind their computers to spew out real hate. I don’t mind people having opinions. When you put yourself on a show you are putting yourself out there to be judged.

Tamra Barney – Making The Cut

imageReal Housewives of Orange County fans know that when it comes to story lines veteran Housewife Tamra Barney never falls short. Over the past 5 seasons we have seen her evolve, surviving a divorce to become a free spirited woman who is never afraid to speak her mind. Recently I met and then spoke to Tamra. The re-curring theme seems to be the cut. From the footage that makes the cut, to her recent emergency surgery, to her brand new fitness studio Cut Fitness, Tamra keeps proving that she is a cut above your average Housewife.

TBB: Congratulations on the opening of Cut Fitness. I’ve heard it’s a large studio and you have a very innovative kids’ studio within it. Tell us about it.

TB: We have been open 30 days so far. We have group fitness for adults. Our kids’ studio is for children ages 1 to 10. There’s fitness equipment for the kids, workout DVDs, and windows all around the room so they can watch their parents work out. We are also working on programs for teens and preteens. We want to encourage the younger generation to get active!

TBB: On your website, you state that you had to change your workout in your 40s. What’s your fitness advice for women in your age group?

TB: Oh boy, where do I start? As (we) age (our) hormones change and (we) have to adjust. I was working out and felt that I wasn’t getting the results I needed. I changed my diet drastically and now I’m working with a nutritionist. I learned that I wasn’t eating enough for how active I was. My body was going into starvation mode because I was so active. I felt what I describe as “skinny flabby”. I thought I needed to add more cardio and what I really had to add was weight training.

TBB: We know you are now involved in the fitness business, so are you still selling real estate?

TB: I still have my license. It’s funny you asked me because it’s just come up for renewal. I’m taking my continuing education classes to keep my license because I don’t want to let it go.

TBB: Was any of your conflict with former Housewife Jeana (Keough) due to competition as agents?

TB: (laughs)You’re going way back! No, Jeana was well established in real estate before I even got on the show and is still doing it full time from what I understand. Our issues were silly stuff in the beginning and then it got into the really nasty stuff.

TBB: What happened after your Season 7 finale reconciliation with Jeana?

TB: Actually that was probably the last time I have seen her. She doesn’t really hang in the same crowd as us anymore. I rarely see Jeana other than running into her at social events. Usually she makes a cameo every season, but, as far as I know, she wasn’t on at all this year.

TBB: You entered RHOC during its third season. I read you were selected from a casting call. Did you know any of the ladies prior to joining the cast?

TB: I knew of them. I had run into Jeana before in the real estate world. Other than that I didn’t know anybody. I was intimidated and scared even back then when it wasn’t so catty. I really looked up to them as TV personalities.

TBB: Season 7 of RHOC was a very high rated season and you had quite a lot happen to you during it like finalizing your divorce, having your breast implants removed, and getting engaged to Eddie (Judge). What are some things that we will witness this season?

TB: It’s funny because the producers always joke with me that they have to cut my story line because I’m only allotted so many minutes per episode. (Season 8) you will see me wedding planning. Then there’s the (fitness) studio in the early stages like finding the location and the construction. There’s also my bachelorette party. I also go into my past. Some things I bring up that happened to me as a child that might help people understand why I have a tough exterior. If people think I’m mean or cold it will give them a better idea of where I’m coming from.

TBB: Being a reality star is very demanding. Do you ever feel that the pressures of the show played a role in your divorce from Simon?

TB: I don’t think it had to do with any kind of pressure from being on the show. We didn’t have a stable foundation. I think me being in the spotlight did a number on him. It may have sped up our separation because if you don’t have a solid foundation and you go into (Reality TV) it can make your spouse insecure. In the end it gave me the courage and the strength to move on with my life and make it happy.

TBB: Your friendship with Vicki (Gunvalson) deteriorated during season 7 over her relationship with Brooks (Ayers). Where do you and Vicki stand now and is she dating Brooks again?

TB: You will definitely see my friendship with Vicki start off shaky this season. We start right where we left off. All I’ll say is it gets worse before it gets better.

TBB: You recently had emergency abdominal surgery. Tell us about it.

TB: It was horrible. I had an incarcerated hernia. It started as a defect in my stomach. I went in to have my tubes tied as Eddie and I had decided we didn’t want any more children and, at my age, I shouldn’t have any more anyway. (The procedure) made the hernia larger. Within two months after surgery my abdominal wall ripped from my belly button to my pubic bone. I had stomach pains and was going to make (a doctor’s) appointment but failed to do it. I was sitting on the couch one night and got these really bad pains. Eddie was out teaching a class so I texted Terry Dubrow and he said call 911. They took me to the emergency room. I looked like I was 8 months pregnant in a couple of hours and the pain continued despite being administered morphine. I had a 4 hour surgery. Thank God I didn’t lose any of my intestines. It was a bad recovery. I was in an abdominal binder and bent over for 2 months. I was on a liquid diet for 2 weeks because my stomach couldn’t handle food. It was brutal! I’m still recovering and within in 6 months I’ll have to have reconstructive surgery, which Terry will do.

TBB: I’ve read you are quite domestic. You love to cook and bake. What’s you specialty?

TB: Eddie and I both love cooking and we probably cook every single night. For dinner I’m obsessed with brussels sprouts and lots of fish. I love trying different things. With my girls I’m always baking cookies and brownies.

TBB: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

TB: (laughs) I always get asked this. I never know what my fans want to know. I am definitely in wedding planning mode. (Eddie and I) were supposed to be married in February and it didn’t happen because our (fitness) studio took so much of our time, energy, and money. You’ll see the struggles we’ve had (on the new season). At one point I felt like, “Do you want to marry me, or are you making excuses?” So you will see us go through that. We are getting married this summer and we hope we will be able to share that with everyone.

TBB: Does that mean you are televising the wedding?

TB: Maybe…

Watch Tamra and the entire RHOC cast in Season 8! Mondays starting April 1st (check local listings).

To learn more about Cut Fitness visit cutfitoc.com .

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