Monday, September 24, 2012

Backstage with Real Housewife Teresa Giudice

I was in the thick of covering the DNC when Marilynn Bowler of Southern Shows sent me an email inviting me to introduce Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice during her appearance Sept. 24 at the Southern Women's Show.

It was the only thing during that intense time that managed to leave me saying, DNC? What DNC? I was so excited because I'm a major Real Housewives/Andy Cohen/Bravo TV fan.

Teresa entered pop culture history when she flipped that table during RHONJ Season One. Although there are some things I find shocking about her behavior, I've also noticed some things that deserve to be admired. But I did want to think about it before I said yes.

Public speaking is not something that comes naturally to me, and I wasn't sure if I should out myself in front of an audience that I'm such a Real Housewives fan.  I called my mother to see if she thought it was a good idea. "Do it, it will be fun," was her advice.

My fellow Real Housewives fan Susan Triantafyllides was my partner in crime for the event. We got our first glimpse of Teresa, or Tre as we like to call her, during a private pre-show event. It's odd to look over and see in person someone you've watched for years on TV.

My first impression of Teresa was that she's gorgeous and tiny. I look enormous standing next to her. The TV cameras don't do her striking features justice. Her eyes seem more Jackie O on TV than they are in person, and they're incredibly beautiful. She has that flawless Italian olive skin and glossy long black hair. She looked very New Jersey/New York chic in a black jacket, black leggings and flat black boots that came up to her knees.

She has a charismatic personality. Fans clapped - some even stood - when she walked by them to get backstage. Susan and I hung out there with her, which was a lot of fun. I found her to be perfectly nice although absorbed in her smart phone, but I was too because I was trying to Tweet and remember what I had planned to say to the packed audience.

I did find out she had flown in right before the show and was flying back right afterward. She always likes to be home at night to tuck her children in bed, and take them to school in the mornings, so she doesn't schedule overnight trips unless her family is with her.

The only awkward moment came when Teresa's assistant made a joke that maybe the sound guy would play On Display (the song by Teresa's estranged sister-in-law Melissa) when Teresa came on stage. Teresa kept a complete poker face - but that said volumes about the ice between the two former friends.

On stage, I was surprised when she saved her harshest comments for another cast mate and former friend, Jacqueline. They definitely aren't reconciling anytime soon. Moderator Jenn Wallin (in the photo below) did a fantastic job of focusing Teresa's thoughts and fielding questions from the audience all while getting in a few clever zingers herself.

During the Q&A session, someone asked who her favorite Housewives were from the other cities. She likes Lisa Vanderpump and NeNe. She's not a fan of Vicki or Tamara from the O.C. Housewives.

Several of the audience members urged her to reconcile with her brother and his wife, but Teresa stood up for herself, which is one of the things I like about her. She said that instead of constantly trying to fix the problem, which was making her sick, she has had to step back for the moment and move forward with her life.

Here are links to video from the event:

Follow Olivia Fortson on Twitter @oliviafortson.