Vicki Gunvalson, of Bravo's The Real Housewives of Orange County, is nothing if not blunt. She just spoke with E! News about her work, life and impending divorce, and she confessed to us, "I hurt Donn a lot by exposing all of the things that I did." She also said, "I want the best for Donn. If I'm it, then we'll stay together. If I'm not it, then we won't."
So did her devotion to her work result in the breakup? What does she think about Alexis' eating-disorder confession? And which fellow Housewives are she talking about when she says, "They don't respect me and I don't respect them"?
Vicki spoke candidly to us about her impending divorce from husband Donn Gunvalson. She says, "We're very cordial. We hope we're making the right decision. We're not legally divorced yet. We're in the process, we're doing mediation. I love Don, I respect Don, I want the best for Don. If I'm it, then we'll stay together. If I'm not it, then we won't. Right now we're just proceeding with the separation and that's where we're at right now."
Did the stress of the series contribute to her marital troubles? Vicki says, "It's really difficult! Anybody that's ever been married has had marriage issues. No marriage is ever going to be perfect all the time. At least I don't know that there are, and if there are, call me, because I want to know how to get there." She admits, "I hurt Donn a lot by exposing all of the things that I did, which I never meant to do. The unfortunate part is I started talking to Tamra [Barney] in confidence, and you tend to forget that there's a microphone on and she's like, what's wrong with you, what's wrong with you, what's wrong with you? You're not yourself. And I just started unloading. And the cameras caught it...Tamra and I don't see each other that often...I really kind of felt it was a therapeutic thing to discuss it. I really thought maybe—I wasn't sure how my life was going to unfold. Maybe it's just a little hiccup we are in, or maybe it's more than that. So you know they're there. You film a lot and you don't know what's going to stick."
As for the haters who claim that her focus on work contributed to the demise of her relationship, Vicki feels differently, saying, "The misconception is that I'm putting work in front of family. The answer to that is no...I get a lot of heat for that. [People say], 'If you would contribute your time to your family as much as you do your work, your family wouldn't be dissolving.' The answer to that is, 'Wrong.' It's 'no.' You're just seeing me saying I have to go to work because that's when I'm filming, so that's just a big misconception. My family is my everything. If you don't have your family intact, nothing else matters. There's a lot of pressure doing a reality-TV show and being married and having a career and all of that. You've got to balance it, and some days I do better than others." She told us that her book explains her reasoning for constantly juggling so many things. She says, " I think that there's a lot of women out there that are not preparing for the unknown, which is death or divorce or being single, and this book is a really good platform to read [and learn how] to take care of themselves...Whether you have children or not, you still need to provide and help your husband bring in some money. It's a big burden for a man to provide, and the women are off shopping and doing all these other things. I don't get it...I always had my hand in something to help my husband, and I encourage women to not be shocked and surprised, if there's a death or divorce, and they're not prepared. You've got to get yourself something where you contribute to the family."
Regarding the appeal of the show, Vicki says, "It's just interesting that we filmed our life, not knowing what was going to happen, and it was so popular that now they threw it into New York and Atlanta and New Jersey and all these other cities, so it's kind of weird. As your life changes, the cameras catch that. So marriage highs and marriage lows have all been caught on camera, relationship issues with my friends and my kids, and sometimes you wish you could have a filter and say, I wish I didn't say that, but it's out there, and it's things you can't change after you say it. With Tamra, I really felt I wanted to reconcile and I wanted to get back to be friends. We went to Cabo and we had a great, great meeting of the minds, and it was just a great trip for us."
As for those who think the Housewives are fake, Vicki response, "I'm very transparent. I don't prescript what I'm going to film. What I'm going to film is my raw reality. And some people love it and some people don't like it. It's just me. That's one of the things that's sustained me these seasons is the viewers do follow me and they want to hear what I have to say and I'm the voice of reason, so there's a lot of good things that I do want to share."
The reality of the drama will become apparent in the upcoming finale and reunion shows. Vicki says, "The finale is coming up, which was filmed at my home, and the reunion is coming up, which was taped last Tuesday, about a week ago. I cried 15 hours—the entire time—I couldn't get control of my tears. I got in the limo at the end and my stomach was just in a knot. I thought, am I going to throw up or am I going to have diarrhea. It's Andy [Cohen] and those darn cards...It was really hard. I really went in, zippered up, I said I'm going to go sit on the couch, I'm going to be quiet, and I'm not going to conflict with anybody, and then a hour or two later I'm like yelling at Alexis [Bellino]. What happened to me? [But] the season's wrapped, I'm done, and here we are."
Want more Vicki? Check out her book, More Than a Housewife, which she says, "Came about because my viewers were asking me so many questions. How did you get involved in the show? How were you raised? How do you have a good work ethic? How do you get financially sound as a woman and not so dependent upon one person, a mate, to provide for us? All of that is in the book. I wrote about my roots in Chicago, my Midwest values. I sometimes feel like I'm not fitting into the California environment as well as I should because when I say I'm going to be at your house for 5 p.m., or 7 p.m. for dinner, I do show up and I'm pretty much on time." Touché, madame, touché.
Vicki's empire doesn't stop there though. In addition to her endorsement of the eyelash growth stimulator Cilea Lash, Vicki tells us, "If I could put it out to the universe right now, I just finished taping the Messiest Home in America in Richmond, Va., and I felt really compelled to be in a show like that. I could change people's lives and encourage women to get out of hoarding or whatever they were doing...That's where I see myself. I'm talking about my own show."
What is it that makes Vicki want to branch off from the Real Housewives franchise? She tells us, "[I want to] have more substance behind who I am. I think this show has really gone into an area that—I don't work out five hours a day, I don't stand in front of a mirror, I don't do all things that we're [supposed to be doing]. Alexis and Gretchen [Rossi] are 30—we've got nothing in common. Nothing. And they don't respect me and I don't respect them, so it's tough to film cohesively with that. So my vision, if I could put it out to the universe, is to really have a purpose and do good on the show, and that's what my goal is." Good on you.
Last but not least, when asked about Alexis' recent eating-disorder disclosures, Vicki was anything but shocked. She told E! News, "Well, obviously she doesn't eat! It was obvious, she has no body fat...It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know the girl's got an eating disorder. I mean, really. I mean, she has got the most perfect body in the world, but you have got to eat in order to sustain life. I never knew it, but you can look at her to say, there's definitely some eating issues."
What do you think of Vicki? Do you think she should stay with RHOOC for one more season? And what are you hoping to see on the season finale and the reunion show? Leave a comment below!
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