Thursday, January 28, 2016

Advice For The Real Housewives Of Dallas From Fellow Dallas Celebrities

Dallas is a virtual HOTBED for TV casting. Any major reality or competition show worth its salt makes a stop in Big D when looking to cast interesting or talented characters with big personalities. We've seen our citizens dominate and humiliate in shows like The Bachelor, Dancing With The Stars, Top Chef, Biggest Loser, The Voice, American Idol, Fast & Loud, Texas Women, Big Rich Texas, Most Eligible: Dallas and many more. Last fall Bravo announced that the Real Housewives of Dallas would be the latest addition to their juggernaut franchise and ever since then Dallas has been buzzing with guesses about who would be in the cast. Even I have been fingered as a possibility, which is oh so flattering! While the cast remains in debate, what I know for sure, is that these ladies have NO IDEA what's about to hit them smack upside the head. I've been covering reality TV and celebrity news in this town for a looooooong time and have become friends with many of the stars that make these shows fun to watch. So, I reached out to a few of them to ask, "What do you wish someone had told you before you started your reality/competition TV journey?" Here's some sage advice for the new cast of #RHOD from those who have been there before:

Tiffany Derry and John Tesar have both conquered Bravo's Top Chef


"Do not get caught up in the hype!! It's not real," says Chef Tiffany Derry. "Your world is going to change in a way that you can't even imagine. Keep your main circle separated if possible. You will want a safe place and they will keep you grounded. Have fun, enjoy your life but never forget where you came from!! Remember it's just a TV show!!" Derry first hit the airwaves in Top Chef (2006), went on to appear in Top Chef: All-Stars and Food Network’s Bobby’s Dinner Battle. You can currently watch her on Spike TV's Hungry Investors and the Food Network's Chopped Junior.

Someone who has had a long and illustrious love affair with TV is Chef John Tesar. His advice to the ladies is, "Don't let TV go to your head. Remember it's just entertainment. Just be yourself and TV will capture the rest. Then pray they find you interesting and the edit is favorable :)" Tesar has appeared on Top Chef (2006), The Food Network's Extreme Chef (2011) and the Cooking Channel's Cooking with the Legends (2009) among others. He currently operates Knife at the Highland Hotel, is a consulting chef at Oak and is currently working on a new Italian concept called Gravy 51 set to open later this year.

To read more about the Real Housewives of Dallas, CLICK HERE!


"My advice is that you do need a manager, but you do not need an agent, and you only need a publicist if you have something to promote in order to earn the money back you pay the publicist. Whitney and I did sign with an agent but regretted it. If you sign with them, you're locked into giving a percentage for the next year (or two) for anything you do - whether they have anything to do with it or not... and most of the time, it will be 'not.' I can see the merit in an agent for acting, but not for reality television because the jobs will come to you. Publicists can be good, but only if you have something to promote personally, so you can earn the money you spend back. Last and most important: don't read blogs, and stay positive no matter what. That's my advice!" Dr. Bon Blossman starred in Big Rich Texas for three seasons on the Style Network.

Bonnie Blossman and Connie Dieb
Photo via Instagram
Since cancelation of the show, Bon has moved to Austin and has dedicated herself to her Young Adult murder mystery book series (Fiona Frost). "I had to rewrite volumes 1-3 due to them being rushed for production of our show (another bit of advice - don't rush things for the show)" sighs Blossman. "My fourth volume of the Fiona Frost Mystery Series (Fiona Frost: Shillingstone Witch) won the Gold Seal Literary Classic Award last October and is being considered for a movie deal.

"Don't read anything on social media! It doesn't matter what people write about you. Your friends and family know who you are and that's all that matters!" exclaims Connie Dieb. "It's starts to get weird when people start to notice you. Over 3 years later, and it still happens. Remember to be thankful, take pictures sign autographs and thank them for watching. Without them you have no show!" For three seasons Dieb starred in Big Rich Texas on the now defunct Style Network. Congrats to Connie who is getting married in July now spends much of her time in Hawaii where her fiancé has a home, working with him on his real estate holdings. Aloha!

OSC's Cynthia Smoot interviews Courtney Kerr and Matt Nordgren at the premiere of Most Eligible: Dallas for WFAA's Daybreak. Drew Ginsburg checks his phone in the background wile Tara Harper looks on. (August 2011) 


"I think it’s important to understand that (this show) is a short chapter of one’s life story. It’s easy to feel that it is much bigger than what it truly is," says Matt Nordgren, the sexy heartthrob of Bravo's Most Eligible: Dallas. "Go into it with a positive attitude, but not an overly serious one. Don’t expect too much on the upside. Avoid thinking too much about the downside. Take it in stride. Enjoy it. Don’t let it be a distraction from the big picture." Nordgren is currently running a private equity business and tells me he's left TV behind for a life that is "simpler and more meaningful." He's also abandoned social media. I bet he still Google's his name periodically though... Some habits are hard to break.

One of Dallas' most successful stars in terms of transitioning her success from the show to a life after reality TV has been Courtney Kerr. She weighs in with, "Have a business plan before your show premiere. 2 days before my first reality show, Most Eligible: Dallas, a good friend (Amber Venz Box) reached out to me about beginning a blog. I was able to leverage this business into a full-fledged brand, now KERRently by Courtney Kerr, and it opened doors that have stayed open 5 years later & paid my bills long after the 15 minutes of fame was over. Listen to people's advice - when it comes from a good place...i.e. what colors look good on you, business strategies, & those who are concerned with your overall well-being - but know how to filter out the opinions of people or acquaintances who say, 'You know what you oughta do.....' Your gut will always tell you what you oughta do and if an opportunity or suggestion doesn't align with you or your brand, SAY NO. Did you ever see me popping bottles at a club appearance in Vegas? No, you didn't. And yes the $10k was enticing, but that wasn't something that I would've ever done otherwise and I didn't want to be categorized as 'that girl'. Lastly, own your mistakes if you said something that you are ashamed of. Don't backpedal. OWN IT. Yes, people will hate on you and be assholes, because people love to do that, but you'll come out on top if you show humility and grace." In addition to her blog, you can catch Courtney on KVIL/103.7 FM weekdays from 3-7PM with Leigh Ann Adam.

MED star Drew Ginsburg says, "My advice is be yourself and not the person people want you to be. Also just don't get to attached to the fame but just enjoy it one day a time." Ginsburg wanted me to say that he living in Barcelona, working with Syrian refugees - even though he is really living in New York City causing lots of trouble.


Tori Gonzales with her BFF, Courtney Kerr
Photo via Instagram
I'm guessing that the ladies probably realize the minute the cast is officially announced, they are going to get a hundred new "besties" crawling out of the woodwork. Still, it's hard to not be flattered by all of the attention.

Tori Gonzales from Bravo's Courtney Loves Dallas offers this solid piece of advice on that subject, "Hey ladies! Remember me? I’m that one girl from that one show… My advice would be to lock down your inner circle. Not the TV show circle but your REAL circle. Keep it small. Like Court always says: I rather have four quarters than a hundred pennies."

Since we saw her last, Tori has gone on to become a highly successful jewelry designer launching All The Wire with her sister and creating her own blog, Gonzales With an "S" where she dishes out style and spiritual/life inspiration.

Here's more sage advice from my girl, Court, who's NEVER at a loss for words: "Understand the difference between good attention & bad attention. Good attention is something that will benefit your character, your business, or your image. Bad attention will flood your mind with narcissism, self-absorption, and a sense of entitlement. Know your value!" says Courtney Kerr. "Yes, I did a lot of appearances for free in the beginning because I wanted the exposure for my brand and for the shows. But as my following grew, and my brand awareness expanded, and I became someone who could hold an audience and pull a crowd to an event, I began to put a price on my time and to treat my image as a business.

Courtney Kerr c/o Facebook
But on the other hand, remember that you aren't a Kardashian. You aren't a household name. You aren't a presidential candidate. The world doesn't freaking revolve around you. And don't treat people or brands like they owe you a damn thing. And while I'm at it.... Don't ask for free shit. If people wanna give you stuff, they will. And when they do, send a thank you card! And don't buy followers. We all know you bought them. If you buy followers, we are all gonna think its weird that you have 200k followers and only 12 people liked your picture. You aren't tricking anyone. 

And if you are trying to use your bought following so that brands will work with you, well, I hate to break it to you, but they can run searches and see how engaged your social media following really is. Also, if brands do approach you to promote their product on your social media platforms, once again, ask yourself how it aligns with your image or your brand. Don't let your social media turn into a Greensheet advertising page. We all know you don't drink detox tea every morning or give a shit about protein powder." God, I love this woman...

To read more about the Real Housewives of Dallas, CLICK HERE!


Mike Holloway and Missy Payne have both endured Survivor.
It's a Jungle Out There VIP party (August 2015)  |  Photo c/o Missy Payne 

"I imagine Real Housewives is different than Survivor, mainly because you will have a toilet, toiletries and food!" laughs Missy Payne, start of Survivor: San Juan del Sur (2014) "But, where there will be similarities will be on the production side. Keep in mind the camera crew will be following you… everywhere! Don’t compromise your integrity, even if there are producers “milking” a situation to squeeze out drama. And, when you get that lonely feeling - because at some point your inner circle won’t be able to relate to your experience - get your favorite book and stay away from the internet. Hopefully, you will allow the experience change your life for the better!" Missy now runs Cheer 4 Your Life, a non-profit dedicated to helping teens achieve their dreams and goals through financial and emotional support.

North Richland Hills Mike Hollaway competed in the season following Missy (2015) and WON the million dollar and title of Sole Survivor! He muses, "Time is a funny thing. Sometimes we remember things for a long time. Others fall away as if they never existed. This is your time live it, but don't be consumed by it. Remember to be gracious to your fans because without them you have nothing! Remember who you are and what you stand for! Not what you fall for!" After winning a million dollars, Mike took some time off from life. He has recently launched a new custom T-Shirt company called Sweet T's Design Shop.


Daniel Lewis (photo via Twitter)
Daniel Lewis won fan favorite on his season of Bravo's Shear Genius. He muses, "Picture it: Your walking through the Denver airport and from a distance someone screams your name as she runs up to you, kissing you and snapping a selfie with you and you think 'My God, is this my great aunt Tilly?' Nope. It is Barb from Des Moines, and she adores you, so treat her with respect and treat her with class. Because Barb, she is your people. And even though you now have a strangers saliva/DNA on your check and her selfie with you has gone viral, you have brightened that woman's day. And she will tell all of her Facebook friends how gracious and charming you were. And they'll tell all their Facebook friends, and they'll tell all their Facebook friends and so on and so on. Welcome to the world of reality fame. Enjoy it all... the good and the bad." Daniel is the owner of the Green Peridot Salon in Frisco. He is an amazing hair stylist who tames the tresses of some of Dallas' most beautiful women including Shay Geyer, Abbe Fenimore, Carmen Surgent, and me!


"People asked all the time if Football Wives was scripted," sighs Dawn Neufeld. "No, it wasn't. Everything you saw on the show happened. But - and it's a big BUT - we had no control over the editing process. It was difficult at times to sit back and watch how the show's editors decided to story-tell our reality. Things would be edited out of sequence to go along with the story lines that had been developed, and I found myself constantly saying, 'That's not what happened.' That was incredibly tough."

Dawn Neufeld
Photo c/o Dawn Neufeld/Facebook
"Also, I don't care how tough of a chick you are, but you can only be called "bitch" on social media so many times before it starts affecting you. People are bold when sitting behind their computers. I call it 'Twitterballs'. It always amazed me what people would say to me on social media. Like the time someone said that my son's autism was my karma for being a bitch. It's easy to say you aren't going to let that affect you, but it does.

It was also amazing to see ratings were. We consistently had about a million viewers each week and it wasn't enough for a second season. That was tough." So, knowing what she knows now... would she put herself through the reality TV spotlight again?   "Absolutely, I'd do it all over again. So much good came out of Football Wives," Neufeld laughs. "For every asshole on Twitter who said something awful, there were moms who decided to get their kiddos evaluated for autism because they recognized some of Will's issues in their own kids. Being able to use my platform that Football Wives provided to do good was awesome." Neufeld will be launching her own law firm later this year specializing in special needs/disability cases and has several new TV projects in the works.

To read more about the Real Housewives of Dallas, CLICK HERE!


Let's end this fun post with some words of wisdom from an actual Real Housewife. Mary Amons starred in Bravo's Real Housewives of Washington D.C. She now splits her time between Dallas and DC, so natch we've become last friends. She has this to say:

Mary Amons
"Understand the risks and lack of control in the editing process! Hire a solid gold entertainment lawyer who has had experience with negotiating reality show contracts. It's worth the expense to go with someone who knows this crazy game. Not every entertainment lawyer knows their way around those crazy reality show contracts." Mary continues with, "Know what the term 'frankenbite' means! This is where editors can alter words and edit scenes in any way they like, in many cases distorting what really occurred to create drama. Prime example: My RHW tagline was a frankenbit! I would never say to anyone that "I don't make money, I spend money!" and you don't see me doing that, but for spending money in the grocery store feeding my 5 darlins! I was fortunate to be spared but for a few frankenbites, thank the Lord!"

Mary is currently working to build her interior design business, launching an approachable, cool lifestyle brand and writing her memoir.

Whew! That's some food for thought from those who have been there, done that, kicked some ass, took names and lived to tell the tale. Best of luck to our little RHOD newbies. We are all rooting for you!!

To read more about the Real Housewives of Dallas, CLICK HERE!