Aug 06, 2010

Bravo's Real Housewives franchise has come to D.C. What did you think of Thursday night's premiere? Chat with housewife Mary Schmidt Amons about her experience on the show and what's in store for viewers this season.

Welcome to the chat. It's wonderful to be back home in DC after a whirlwind of press junkets, interviews and fun with the girls.

Which housewife do you believe most deserves a pat on the back, and which housewife most deserves a spanking?

Ha ha ha! Well, I would say that I cannot single out one of the four of us. I think that Cat, me, Stacie and Linda all deserve a pat on our backs for having to go through what we were just going through with the Salahis on this press junket and causing true, true drama. I do believe Michaele deserves not a spanking or a tap on the arm by Whoopi. She needs to figure out how to handle herself better. If she were to get a spanking she'd sue me.

What was that whole "We met, fell in love, got married, had kids.....but not in that order" all about?

I was set up with my husband in early September of 1985, a mutual friend of ours thought we would like each other. We fell madly in love at first sight and then I realized that I was pregnant about two and a half months later. There was no question that we would get married. We met, fell in love, got pregnant, then we got married. It's just a little bit out of order.

We loved each other so much there was no question we were going to keep our baby, make a family and make a go of it at the age of 19 and 21 and we're still together.

This a time of hardship for a lot people in this country. The "Housewives" series is supposed to be a view into the lives of these "real" women and their families. Instead it seems more like a display of extreme superficiality and narcissism. What do you feel you actually contribute to this world by making this show?

I actually think that on our show the women bring to focus an authenticity, a relatability factor that I don't think you find in the other franchises. I would hope that our editors will be able to edit us kindly and reflect our true character and I would say that the four of us -- Cat, me, Stacie and Linda really enjoyed doing the show. I opened my home to show how proud I am of my family. I think that to relate what it's like to live in Washington -- juggling kids, philanthropy and trying to manage the financial side of what it takes to raise a family of five and just to keep it real. I hope that people will see a different side of the whole franchise.

Did you watch the first episode? Does it seem different to you, seeing it on the screen, than if felt at the time? Would you change anything, seeing how it looks from the outside?

I did watch the episode actually several times. Our family gets a copy of it a couple of days before it airs so we can digest it and not be shocked by what we're seeing. I think overall I'm very proud of the first episode. I think my family looks beautiful. We have a ball shooting that holiday card scene. The one scene I'm not proud of is my birthday party. Given that I was having so much fun and not monitoring my drinking, I put my foot in my mouth and made a statement that didn't make a whole lot of sense that was based on the face that one of my dear friends, Ted Gibson, has come to DC to open his salon. I was introducing him to some of my friends and it didn't come off as well as it should have. Overall I'm pleased with what they've done with the first episode. There was a lot more to everything that you see, but I think our editors did a nice job of telling a story. They're trying to tell a story that's consistent.

How do you maintain your figure?? You go girl!

Well thank you I'm so flattered. I would say that I keep a healthy balance of exercising. I work out a few times a week doing pilates with a trainer. I have a balanced healthy diet. I limit my caffeine, alcohol and sugar. I'm active, I'm busy and I'm happy, so I think the way you take care of your body on the inside reflects on the outside. But I'm flattered, thank you.

I think you along with Stacie are actually normal people. I would totally love to hang out with the both of you off camera. So my question is, why get involved in a show that portrays you in a negative manner? All reality TV is drama after drama and more drama. You do look amazing though!

Well thank you so much and I appreciate the kind words of wanting to hang out because when I watch reality TV it's fun to see somebody who's normal and real. Why I would do it? We thought long and hard about it as a family. I founded a charity in 2006 called Labels for Love and co-founded an event called the Distict Sample Sale and thought it was a great opportunity to bring some national focus to the work that I'm doing. I'm very proud of my family. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I approached it with a very positive mindset. We talked it through with our family. Overall it's been a very positive experience and brought our family closer.

Who are your favorite designers?

I have many favorite designers. Ralph Lauren, Stella McCartney, Lela Rose, Piazza Sempione, Gucci. I love vintage Pucci. I am a hippy chic. I love hippy chic style. I'm a hippy chick at heart.

So what about the whole drink in the face incident ? Real or publicity ?

I have three sentences to say about that. I was at the dinner and I had excused myself for the evening. So I was not there when the incident occurred. I didn't see what happened exactly. There were no cameras rolling, but there were many witnesses. It's really unfortunate what happened. I'm sad about what occurred. It's been disappointing.

Hi, I tend not to watch reality shows but seeing everyone was talking about Real Housewives of DC I decided to see what the hype was all about. I was surprised and saddened by the show because what I noticed most was the racial tension and awkwardness in just about every scene. Does this continue throughout the series?

I can speak on behalf of my other castmates and say that none of us felt any kind of racial tension throughout the season. None of us are racist. None of us have anything to say about one race being better than the other. Honestly, it's been a fun experience to get to know these ladies. Erika -- who is a mutual friend of Stacie's -- we've been friends for ten years. Even though we run in different circles there's absolutely no bit of racism that occurs on our show. We love each other equally.

Are Michaela's "I love yous" to anyone and everyone a personality tic, or is she sincere?

I'm not a judgmental person and I can't speak to whether she's being genuine with her 'I love yous' or not, but she does say it a lot.

Many reality TV shows seem to do a lot of damage. A lot of them try to make the characters as unsympathetic as possible. (And I know it's editing, a person may be perfectly nice all day with a 2 minute fight, and the show will only use that 2 minutes.) The "Real Housewives" series is REALLY guilty of this: they show women at their absolute worst. Knowing how they treated women in all the other shows, why did you want to be part of RHDC?

Well, I think that our producers approached Bravo to bring something different to the franchise. I think the network is looking for a little more substance and interesting drama as far as discussions that take place. I don't think we're going to be portrayed in a negative light. I know that I signed up for something that's about entertainment. But our cast has had a lot of faith and trust in our producers to create something different and positive for the franchise. Fingers crossed.

Given the choice of watching real housewives in DC, Atlanta, New York, and New Jersey, which would you recommend I watch, and why?

I would say that each of those shows is very different from one another and it just depends on what mood you're in as far as drama. A lot of people love to watch the catfights in Atlanta or the interaction of the women in Orange County -- their personal relationships, dating lives, financial problems. New York is a little more sophisticated. It just depends on your mood. What drama are you looking for?

I was really impressed by your home - especially the lock on your closet! Did you do the design yourself ?

I love design. I love making my home comfortable and inviting and warm. It's been a process. We've lived in this house for 17 years and updated it along the way. I feel like it's always evolving. Interior design is one of my interests.

The back story of the lock is I have 3 teenage daughters and we all wear the same size clothes. It's just about efficiency and keeping track of what I have. It's not about hoarding clothes or keeping my daughters out of my stuff. I share everything I have with them. It's just a way to keep track of everything I have efficiently. I love my girls to look good.

For a few years my husband was getting so tired of me complaining about stuff missing that he finally said "Do something about it Mary. Take control of the situation  and put a lock on your closet." I didn't want to hassle with a key, so I bought a biometric lock that cost under $100 online. It's getting a lot of attention. Everyone thinks it was an elaborate purchase and it wasn't. It was an effective purchase.

It seems like you and Rich are great parents!! Do you have some words of wisdom?

Well thank you. Parenting is a challenge always and we just wake up every morning making a decison to be a team and do the best we can to bring out the best in our kids. Listen to them, make sure they're being heard and their needs are being met and that they know they're loved. We're working as a team and we love to laugh and have fun. It's very important to laugh and create a fun environment at home and I think honesty and openness is critical in creating a functional family.

So we all know how annoyed you and the other girls are with Michaele. It was so obvious during the interviews yesterday and the day before. However, did she really SAY that Whooppie hit her? I mean, Michaele denied saying that and I believe her. And then for Whooppie to be cursing off a storm backstage, I thought that was wrong. I'm glad you are not directly involved in that drama, but what do you make of it?

All I can really say is that we're all really tired of talking about the Salahis. The show is about five of us. Not one couple. I'm really interseted in focusing all of these interviews on all of us equally and unfortunately much of the attention has been on them and we're just tired of talking about it.

It seems unlikely that Bravo will want to portray any of you in a good light. That's not why people watch the franchise. They want cat-fights and unseemly behavior. Do you worry at all about the footage they already have in the can? Or is it all a blur at this point?

I'm not worried about what they have in the can. I approached this in an honest open way, trusting our producers and the network. Putting my family out there on national TV was a huge risk. I know it's about entertainment and drama. Given our producers' assurances I think we'll see something different. I've had conversations with people at the network and they've assured me I'm going to be happy. I'm excited to see it.

I hope our show makes DC proud. We live in a beautiful city and I'm excited for what's to come. Thank you for all of the positive support. Looking forward to a great season. I hope to make DC proud because I'm very proud of where I come from.

In This Chat
Mary Schmidt Amons
As a second generation Washingtonian, Mary spent summers at the Kennedy residences as a child, and is the granddaughter of legendary radio and TV personality Arthur Godfrey. Married to husband Rich for over 20 years, Mary is matriarch of the Amons clan of five children – Lolly, Ryan, Alexandra, Meghan and Matt – it’s never a dull day and she calls her life “controlled chaos.” When she’s not busy running her household, Mary pairs her love of fashion with philanthropy as founder of “Labels for Love” and co-founder of “The District Sample Sale,” two D.C.-based charities.
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