If Dina Manzo's sudden departure from the Real Housewives of New Jersey seemed, well, sudden, guess what? It wasn't!
"I had already decided to leave, and obviously what [Bravo] didn't show was that the meeting started with me telling [Danielle], 'I am leaving the show because...' "
Because...why? And might she pop-up in the always-anticipated reunion show? Here's what Dina tells us:
We were so sad to see you leave the show on Monday. But there seemed to be something missing between your meeting with Danielle, and your decision to leave RHONJ. Can you walk us through what happened?
Dina Manzo: The meeting was my closure. That was me telling her, "I want you out of my life. I'm leaving the show and all the opportunities that go along with because that's how badly I need you out of my life." And that's what the talk was all about. That's why it seemed like it happened quickly, because I had already decided to leave and this was my closure with her.
So this was strictly a personal decision, not dictated by any RHONJ storylines?
DM: Absolutely. The only way I can truly get Danielle out my life is to not be in contact filming with her. That way I don't have to talk about her, and I don't have to be around her.
How did Caroline, Teresa and Jacqueline react when you told them you were leaving the show?
DM: They were disappointed and tried to take me into staying. After I had my talk, they said, "OK, you did it. Let's move on to more fun things and forget about it." But I know Danielle and I know how she works and unless I really cut her out and leave, she was still gonna be sabotaging behind the scenes. She still did it after I left, and I'm reliving it all again now.
Will we see you again on the show in the future? Maybe at the reunion?
DM: I've been invited to the reunion, but I'm debating. When I stopped filming back in the day, I cut Danielle out, and it felt really good to not have to talk about her. I even went to private family parties ,and if her name came up and I'd say, "Ah, not in front me. I'm out." So my fear with the reunion is once I get around her again, I'm gonna relive the whole thing—I left for a reason and that was really to cut her out of my life.
What's next? Any plans to stay in show business?
DM: I've got to be honest with you, on the resume of who I am, Real Housewives of New Jersey is at the very bottom. It doesn't define who I am. It's so amazing these past couple of days opportunities are just fluttering towards me, from having my own show to working on the book. I'm really humbled that people want to hear more from me, so I'll see what direction that goes in and certainly, I do everything with my daughter in mind. Project Ladybug is a huge part of who I am. We do anything and everything we can to lift the children's spirits while they're in cancer treatment, with the hopes of the outcome being a positive one.
Will you continue to tune into Real Housewives of New Jersey?
DM: Of course, I'll continue to watch. There's my sister and my sister-in-law and stuff like that, but I'm not as invested now, so I can relax. It used to be holding my breath, watching with one eye closed. But now it will be like being at the Academy Awards, and not having to get up and make a speech.