By: Gibson Johns
Stephanie Hollman has her hands full: Between her two young sons, her husband Travis, her best friend Brandi Redmond and her controversial costar LeeAnne Locken, the "Real Housewives of Dallas" star is surrounded by a slew of big personalities, and it can be exhausting.
But when she signed up to be on the hit Bravo show, Hollman promised herself that she was going to show her life as it really was -- real, fun, crazy, not "perfect" -- even if it made her a little nervous.
SEE ALSO: 'Real Housewives of Dallas' star Cary Deuber: Being a 'Real Housewife' has 'been harder than I thought'
Deciding to feature her sons on the show was a tough call, but the Oklahoma native stands by her decision because she wants mothers around the country to know that nobody lives a perfect life and having young children is guaranteed to be messy and sometimes chaotic. But at the end of the day, she says, it's fun.
On the show, Hollman has stuck by her friend, Brandi Redmond, and put their shenanigans-filled friendship on display. Though their relationship features more than its fair share of poop-talk and laughing, it's also proven to be much deeper than that. Hollman brought Redmond back to her family in Oklahoma and Redmond confided in Hollman after her brother attempted to commit suicide.
We talked to Stephanie Hollman exclusively at the AOL headquarters in downtown Manhattan about her friendship with Brandi, her family, interacting with fans on Twitter and the devastating news that she received from her father minutes before that awkward apology from LeeAnne.
See photos of "Real Housewives of Dallas" star Stephanie Hollman:
Check out our full conversation with Stephanie Hollman below:
So, there are only a couple of episodes left in season one. In general, what has the experience been like as a "Real Housewife" since your show has aired?
In the very beginning, it wasn't so much fun -- that's the truth. There are people who judge a book by its cover; they don't know you, and they just think the worst of you. But now, the audience has been so nice! I think after a few episodes, they just kind of figure out who you are and, honestly, I enjoy Monday nights now! But I didn't for the first two episodes. You have a few people that say mean things, but that's always going to happen. Not everyone's going to like you in life.
You're pretty active on Twitter on Monday nights when episodes air, interacting with fans and responding to their questions. Is that something you enjoy doing?
I do! I'm so thankful for everyone that's watching and is a fan of the show. Even the negative [responses], I appreciate. It's a learning experience. I'm not perfect, and I can always learn from watching myself or from [getting] other people's input. I definitely try to connect on Twitter and Facebook, because if someone is going to try and write to you, you should try to find the time to respond.
I've noticed that whenever new cities get added to the "Real Housewives" franchise that fans are definitely harsh at first. It's almost like they're possessive of the show and want you to be like existing "Housewives," but then they start to figure you out and accept you.
Totally. It's nice because in interviews early on, people would always ask me, "Who do you say you're most like?" You can take bits and pieces of other "Housewives" -- I think why the franchise works so well is that you can see yourself in different people -- but there's no comparison. Dallas is so different [from the other cities].
It is! Dallas has been interesting because it's been basically divided into two sides: There's you and Brandi and Cary, and there's LeeAnne and Tiffany. There's no real gray area. Did it feel that divided when you were filming?
From the beginning, Brandi was my best friend. We were drawn to Cary because we all have children, and we all kind of live the same lives. We have the same struggles: Our kids aren't going to bed at night, and it's harder for us to balance everything. We're also all around the same age. LeeAnne and Tiffany have known each other for so long that they had their strong relationship already. So, yeah, it was kind of separated and it felt like that, for me, throughout the entire season really.
After the show aired, I started getting to know Tiffany. I'm very guarded, and it takes me time to warm up to people. I like to watch and then jump in after I figure people out. I really did not jump in and get to know Tiffany until after we filmed. I realized that she was safe.
And you guys didn't even know if was going to be part of the "Real Housewives" franchise until you wrapped, right?
Not until four months after! They called us the day before we did our title shoot, so I found out at 9:30 the night before. My husband was traveling, and you can't really tell anybody else, so I called Brandi like fifteen times. She was like, "Stop calling me!" [Laughs]
Going into the season, was there anything that you didn't want to show?
I was most nervous about my children and my husband. For me, the "no-no's" were their school stuff and soccer and birthday parties and anything that's big for them. I never wanted them to feel like I was exploiting those things. I would never film playdates, and I didn't want other parents to feel uncomfortable.
When they did film with me, I tried to make it where it was with Brandi's kids or just at my house. I was back and forth about whether or not I was glad I brought my kids on TV, though, and I am happy because -- even though they throw temper tantrums and they're screaming and things -- that's real life. Women are so hard on themselves, and they like to pretend as if everything is perfect, even if it's not. So if I can make somebody think that they're not alone, that crazy stuff is actually happening all the time -- that it's my life -- then that's worth it.
You also have had some scenes with just you and your husband. Are you happy with how your marriage has been portrayed on the show?
I went in wanting to show all sides of my marriage and my family -- I wanted to show the good, the bad and the ugly -- because I didn't want people to fall in love with a fictional version of myself or my family. At the end of the day, our relationship -- my husband is very Type A and I'm totally not -- works. We are literally night and day, and I'm happy I showed that. It would've been easy for him to come on for the 30 minutes that he films with me and pretended to be perfect, but then it wouldn't have been my life. People can't relate to that.
Is there anything that you found out about for the first time while watching the show?
Strangely enough, I honestly did not know that LeeAnne couldn't stand me from the beginning! I went in thinking that she really liked me. She had done a charity event, which was brought up in the very first episode between her and Brandi, and I underwrote the entire event. I felt as if I had extended an olive branch, and I had always been nice to her, so I was really shocked by that. She just didn't like me.
Reality TV stars always talk about forgetting that the cameras are there. When did that first happen for you?
The first day I was very aware of the cameras, and I cried for two days. Travis was like, "You've got to pull it together." I knew that I had probably offended somebody, and every week somebody is offended by some of the silliest things ever. I'll say something like, "If Travis leaves me, I'll pin him down and kill him!" And they're like, "Oh my God, she's a murderer!" It's like, "Really guys? It's clearly a joke." But eventually you just kind of have fun. That's why you see so much of the silly side of us, because that's what I was comfortable with. I was with my best friend, and that's what I'm used to in real life.
And I think that comes across really nicely. You and Brandi are a joy to watch on the show, because it's really refreshing. It's a relationship dynamic that we don't see a lot of on these shows.
Brandi was one of the first people I met when I started dating Travis, and I fell in love with her right away -- way before Travis. I was like, "I would totally marry this girl if she were a dude! She's amazing!" [Laughs] We just have the same sense of humor. It's obnoxious, and we both enjoy annoying people. We have so much fun: It's easy, and it's effortless. She's like my sister that I never fight with. She's my family, really.
But then you have also shared these emotional moments that prove that your relationship really is deeper than just those silly, fun moments: You brought Brandi back to your family's home, for example, and she confided in you about her brother's troubles.
Whenever we're having struggles in life -- outside and during filming -- we cry with each other. It's a sisterhood. I remember the day we left for our trip, and I was so, so tired. We had done so much filming, and I had so much doing on with my kids, so I called her and couldn't breathe because I was crying so hard. I was like, "I can't do this. I'm exhausted."
I've never been involved in drama, so having it all the time was overwhelming for me. She sat on the phone with me and calmed me down and we prayed and we got there early. She takes care of me. That side isn't shown as much, but Brandi is very caring. I'm very blessed.
In a recent episode LeeAnne gave you some sort of apology during that one-on-one lunch, which you seemed to accept. But it was definitely awkward. Can you talk a little bit about that scene and your dynamic with LeeAnne?
I will never forget that day, because it was so weird. I was driving to meet LeeAnne, and my aunt had been struggling -- we knew she was going to pass soon -- and my father called me five minutes out and told me that she had pissed. I couldn't cancel on LeeAnne because she was already there, so I showed up in a really weird space. I didn't want to be there.
I appreciated her apology, but it was two hours of her talking about herself and never asking me about myself. Friendship is a give and take, and that's the one thing that has always bothered me about LeeAnne whenever I've tried to get to know her: I feel like I know everything about her entire life, but I don't think she can say the same about me or anyone else. She doesn't take the time to get to know us.
It's exhausting because it's a pattern, too: She gets mad, she blows up, she's quiet for a few days and she apologizes, but then with the apology she blames her past. In my opinion -- I've worked as a social worker -- being a victim in life doesn't give you the right to victimize other people. I think she tries to use that as an excuse to treat the rest of us poorly.
What's it been like with the rest of the cast since filming wrapped and the show has aired?
Brandi and I are still close as ever. We flew to New York together, and we're going to have a slumber party! Cary and I talk three to four times a week; we're really good friends. I've gotten a lot closer with Tiffany, too, and Marie who's a friend of the cast. I never got involved in their drama -- #TextGate was so silly to me -- and I didn't understand the dynamic of that trio.
LeeAnne and I are still not friends. Some of that is on me, because I don't feel safe with her. I'm a mom and anything negative that is brought into my life takes away from my family, which is not worth it to me. I don't want to be worried about a friendship and upsetting somebody, when I could give all of that effort to my babies. We just don't mesh, and it's fine because you don't have to be friends with everyone.
How did the rest of Dallas react to the show?
In the beginning, it was a nightmare. People were like, "Who are you to represent us?" When it first came out, I was so excited about it -- we had waited almost a year for it to come out -- but people were so negative. Now, though, I get messages from people in Dallas all the time who are just lovely. I think people are just protective of their city, but I don't want to represent every woman in Dallas. I'm representing me.
You're in New York to film the season one reunion tomorrow. Are you nervous? Are you preparing at all?
I thought about the question of, "Do you prepare or not?" But, you know, I think it's weird if you're Inspector Gadget and print stuff out.
Totally. In the past, when other "Housewives" have printed out phone records or texts or emails, they seem to think that it will support their case, but it usually backfires and makes them look bad.
Exactly. For me, it's more authentic if you just state your truth. You don't have to have a paper trail proving that you're right. It's not as if it's a judge and jury! I'm just going to go in and say how I feel -- say my truth -- and if it's well-received, great, but if it's not then it is what it is. I don't know what to expect! I'm nervous.
What does your future on "Housewives" look like? Would you do another season?
I'm taking it one season at a time. If I'm offered a season two, obviously there are a few factors. If Brandi is doing it then definitely yes. If Brandi didn't do it, I could never do it. The reason it's so much fun for me is because of her; I have to have her. It's a decision that affects my family, too, so it has to be a decision that we all make together.
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