To call Danielle Staub "polarizing" would be an understatement. For two years, this original cast member of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" brawled with the Manzo women and infamously had full place settings tossed at her during Teresa Giudice's iconic table flip. With the recent end of the "cold war" between Giudice and Staub over yoga mats, it only makes sense to catch up with Staub for a chat. We talked at length about what it was like on the show both in front of the cameras and behind the scenes, what she thinks of the new and veteran "Housewives" and what she thinks could go down should she return to the Garden State franchise.
Danielle, you have been off of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" since Season 2 when there was a large shift in the cast. As an outsider, how do you think the show has changed?
Oh i don't think much has changed at all since I was there. I don't think anyone could really see who the others really were until I left. There is only so much you can allow to be done to you before you are starting to lose your dignity. My kids were scared, and they're grown now. I made them a promise to not go back until their well out of the house which they are now. They both graduated, and I have one in college and one graduated high school and entering college!
Your daughter Christine wrote a polarizing piece on reality television and it was so introspective and well written.
Yes, thank you. She is a real smarty pants and I say that in the best possible way. She has been brilliant against all odds. People don't realize that the very little that they saw about my children really isn't a true representation. They are college educated, triple honors, Summa Cum Laude from a University, maintaining a 4.0 GPA for four straight years. One entered law school and the other entered grad school getting her MBA at Colombia.
So much is filmed and there is so much edited, and people see very little, which they are left to view and get their impressions of. After having such a rough two seasons, why would you want to go back now?
It's very interesting, especially with Teresa publicly saying she would like to come back. I'm ready-I'm definitely ready to come back now. I have love in my life, a genuine real deal kind of love. We are planning our future, without needing publicity behind it. We are sincerely and genuinely happy with each other and that's a whole new thing for me. Trusting someone is a big leap for me, a leap of faith. It's so amazing to see that within the seven years that have passed, what I have put into those years, and to see what no one else has done. Some of the other ladies have not grown or have not moved at all. There is nothing that they can do to me anymore, it's all been done. People are not going to want to see history repeat itself. Surprisingly enough, I would like to have a relationship with Teresa. In that whole family (Manzo family) I don't think anyone was really fair to Teresa. They kind of used her. She is a big girl and made all of her own decisions, but I don't think she and I stood a chance. I I think in Teresa's heart, I truly can see how she was manipulated by Caroline and Dina; none of them are standing next to her now. None of them are guiding her, she has four kids, and lets face it, she may have a family, but she's alone. I'm not going to say anything about Melissa because I don't want to get that can of worms open, we all know how I feel about her. I really truly believe that Teresa and I could make quite the team.
After a year off of the show, Jacqueline Laurita came back as a full-time Housewife this year. Thoughts on that?
Let's face it, Jacqueline is out of her ever loving mind. I'm not really saying anything bad about her, I'm just stating the truth. She's not a good person and she never has been a good person. She has every reason to want to show herself being a good person, but she's actually showing who she really is; and I think people should believe her.
A popular theory being floated around is that with the show being rebooted with two new Housewives and Teresa returning, Jacqueline is almost being painted as the "Danielle" of this season.
You know, they don't really even need to paint her that way. And to be honest with you, she couldn't fill my shoes. The image though, I totally get what you're saying. All the plastic surgery in the world is not going to give her a good heart though; she's not a good person and never is going to be.
Switching gears, you were one of the first Housewives to have a "gay" friend on screen with them and you were supportive of the community from the beginning as well. Has that community continued to be just as supportive when you've been away from the "Housewives"?
I love my community as well. That's the only community that I was really a part of. Not just because of the show either, I was there since the late seventies. Before anyone thought it was cool to have a gay husband, I had one. I was the only one of the Housewives in the entire franchise who marched in a gay pride parade at that time. They would wave and they would tweet about it, but I did eight and eleven mile marches. That's what you do when you're an advocate, that's what you do when you're a supporter. It's especially what you do when you are given a platform as big as Bravo and NBCUniversal to come from. You help those people that you truly believe in. It may not mean I agree with everything, but i am an advocate beyond anyone's wildest dreams. I believe in doing the right thing. I believe that the people that believed in me are the people I will believe in right back. I have been with the LGBT community since the seventies and they aren't going anywhere, and neither am I.
I think what many in the LGBT community saw with you is a woman who was being marginalized and one person being forced to defend themselves from three to four different women. Many felt, as they may have in their own lives, that you were the underdog.
It was not just on-camera either; it was off-camera as well. Remember, there are eleven children in that (Manzo) family. And they all have children as well. I was pushing back against an entire town essentially. It didn't stop with the people that were just on camera, it the people off camera as well. As you have read, they were bullying my kids, things that people cannot even imagine. I left my home; I didn't get thrown out of my house, I left. I packed the car and I told the kids that we were moving. I didn't even know where I was going to be putting them in school.I took off and we slept on a mattress in a beautiful condo on the waterfront. I had a security guard at the front desk so no one could get to me. They broke into my home and broke down the doors to my beautiful mansion that I owned out right. I spent over $800,000 to get divorced and I thought that the show would be that. New friends, a new lease on life, all of that .I do love the camera, let's face it. I am not going to say that I have to have it on me all the time, but I also love the theater community. The arts, studying theater, going to the workshops all of it. I didn't know what reality television was.
For example, I had no idea what a "red light special" was. When they see that red light go on the camera, everything changes. For example, look at the two Kim's (Kim D, who has been a supporting character since Season One, and Kim G, who was featured heavily on Seasons Two and Three). Kim D was originally brought on the show for me to help her with her boutique (Posche). I call it a closet, since I have closets bigger that that in my home. She turned on me so quickly with the "red light special" as soon as people started to say they wanted to shop there, or she was promised something, I don't know what that was. I refused to compromise myself. I was not going to be like everyone else. In hindsight, maybe I should have played a little bit more like them, but I did not want to change who I was. I couldn't compromise myself just because Dina or Caroline (Manzo) said to. I have two daughters that I believe I raised better than any of them. When they came at my children and talked about my kids so poorly, I think removing them was the healthiest thing for me to do.I hope that when I get back on (the show) because I want to get back on, and I believe I should be back on. I hope that I can really be a testament to people that need to relate to people like me, that need to relate to my journey. I also want to be there for the people that least expected me to be there for Teresa. I believe that Teresa and I could really make some trouble for the rest of the cast. You want drama?-put Teresa and I together and you'll definitely get some.
The last season of "RHONJ" was much maligned after a massive cast change with women that had minor connections to the cast, if at all, including the return of Dina Manzo. Did you look at last season and wonder why they did not just bring you back?
You know, the thing about the show is I know the characters personally. I can put together things pretty clearly with a social media tweet or a GIF, and can put it together pretty clearly like "oh, I see what they're doing". As for the new girls, I like Siggy (Flicker)a lot, I'm not sure where she fits in ,but I have to be honest, I know her and would attend her events before she was a Housewife. I was the only Housewife that would show up to her events even though she invited all of us. She was kind enough to acknowledge that fact publicly and I have a great amount of love for her for that. Dolores (Catania) has been in the background for seven years, she should just go back into the background again. The big girl is going to come back now. (laughs). If they bring me back, I am coming!
If you look at other franchises, they have seen other Housewives return, such as Sheree Whitfield to "Atlanta". It's also been very publicized that you were invited to several reunions as well. We all also know, Andy loves a returning Housewife!
There were a couple invitations, yes. I regret not doing it, but it came down to forty-eight hours prior to filming and I backed out. My kids were begging me, pleading not to do it. They only had that memory of standing by the door of the Borgata after sixteen hours of filming and they said "Mom we just can't do it"! I also have many of their friends saying that they were scared for me and didn't want me to do it. I have those kids now backing me up if I go back now! (laughs).
You must have a certain degree of satisfaction when, after leaving the show, many of your former cast mates have owned up to things that you had previously stated were true that were denied.
Yes, definitely. It's not so much satisfaction as it is validation though. People said I was paranoid, they called me all sorts of names, and I wondered if they considered that, for example, the nineteen engagements, that was way before I even married my husband. Things so far in my past that I had owned up to and kind of made light of. In my book, I explained that I was sexually abused as a child. I was nineteen or twenty and wanting someone to fall for me, break their heart and move on to the next one. It made me feel like I was angry at men, and right fully so. It would have been nice if they had put that into perspective. There are so many women from the sixties and seventies that did not talk about sexual abuse. You kept your head down and your mouth shut in those days. I was damaged.
I think now that everyone is realizing that everything that I was saying was not just true, because I already knew that. They just were not going to show that until it was time. For the people that really needed someone to believe in, those women tore at me like dogs with bones. It didn't kill me, it made me so strong.
For the rest of your life, you were an original cast member of arguably the most famous reality franchise ever, and arguably as well, one of the most famous scenes with the infamous table flip. Does it seem like a totally different time now?
Oh yeah, absolutely. If I had to relive that scene differently, I probably would not do anything differently because all I did was stand up. Its funny when people meet me, they say "don't throw a table at me". Are you kidding, the table was thrown at me. (laughs). The whole format of the show, it does feel like a different day. I see it, I embrace it, and that's it. During that scene, I stood up, said "that was classy" and wiped off my vintage Christian Dior dress and walked over and took my children. It's also funny, people think I chose to have my kids in that room. It was edited out because the only place they would have taken my kids was the other side of the room! It was suggested that they were removed from the room but they weren't; they were on the other side of the room, maybe ten feet away.
It certainly sounds like Danielle Staub's return on Season Eight is a no brainer then doesn't it?
Well, if you all would like to get in there and campaign for it, I sure would appreciate it. I want to get back in there for everyone who doesn't have a voice. To be victorious for everyone who has been in the position that I have been in. I can't stress it strongly enough, I would not go back just because of me; I don't have an ego. I would do this for everybody, not just my daughters, family and close friends either. For everyone who has given me so much love for so many years, and never wavered. I know these people from social media, and it sounds crazy, but I communicate with my fans a lot. I do publicly show so much love back to those who are giving me love. I want to keep doing that.
Photo 1-Tate Fullier Photography
Photo 3-Teresa Giudice (Instagram)