Bravo’s The Real Housewives of NYC will see a new personality appear tonight in event planner Jennifer Gilbert, who crosses paths with the ladies when the group’s mother hen, Jill Zarin, commissions her to help her with an upcoming holiday party. Natch, Gilbert makes inroads with the whole group and, as you might guess, will pop up here and there throughout the rest of the season. However, unlike Sonja Morgan, who joined the cast two weeks ago, Gilbert doesn’t have full golden apple-holding privileges…yet. EW caught up with Gilbert to talk through why she’d want to dip into the waters of such a sharky cast, how she knows the ladies, and lots more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The Real Housewives of NYC cast is notoriously sharky. What made you want to jump into such nasty waters?
JENNIFER GILBERT: I’m an event planner, and I was brought in to do an event. All of that part of it was logical and fabulous and great for my business and totally fun. I also think that, not for nothing, this season’s a little dark and a little catty and I am neither, so maybe there just needs to be a little freshening up and a breath of fresh air. I always say: “If we could all just use our power for good, not evil.” I always say: “You want a different answer, ask a different girl.” I am not afraid to say what I think, I am not an instigator, and I am not a mean girl, but I will say what I feel, and I think maybe the juxtaposition of me versus what’s there could be kind of fun. If someone asks me an opinion, I’m going to tell them what I think, versus just being outwardly cruel for no reason.
Were you a fan of the show beforehand?
It’s sort of like popcorn: You start it, you don’t think you’re going to eat the whole thing, you look down and you’re like, “Oh my God, it’s gone.” I wouldn’t be like,”Oh my God, it’s Thursday, I’ve gotta watch it.” But all of a sudden I would be home, it’s raining, and I would watch all of them. I’d be like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe I watched five in a row.” I definitely knew of the show, I didn’t watch it on a steady week-to-week basis, but I caught up and knew all the characters.
Did you know any of the girls before taping the show? Had you crossed paths with the likes of, say, Ramona?
We’d been at many events, I have a million mutual friends with both Kelly and Bethenny — different friends, but we have a lot of people in common. But I did not know any of them before the show.
What event is it that you’re planning that brings you into this world?
I am planning a party for Jill Zarin. I guess every year she does a Fourth of July party, but she did not do one last year because Bobby was not well. So they wanted to do a holiday party instead this year, so I planned that for her.
You obviously get involved with more than just Jill?
I’ve gotten familiar with most of the ladies, and I’m kind of an outsider looking in — or an insider looking out. Some of them I got to know a lot more than others. I was brought in through the event, but Jill’s like, “Oh my God, come, come, come, come,” so I started going to everything.
You must like it then? You must like the people if you continue to go.
Some of the women that I’ve met have been wonderful; some I have not gotten to know that well because I did come in late in the season, and I didn’t know any of them before so I didn’t have prior relationships. It’s kind of as organic as you can be, meeting someone, and being like, “Hi, let’s be new best friends,” which really doesn’t happen. We’re feeling it out.
Will we see your husband or your kids at all on screen?
Yes. I mean, I don’t know — I haven’t seen any footage, but they were filmed. My husband’s the best guy ever. I know everybody says this, but I am really normal. I’m a businesswoman’ so for me, I just think the show is a great platform for other things and to actually try to encourage women helping each other and being kind to each other and not killing each other. Everybody’s like: “What does your husband think?” and I laugh and say, “He knows who he married.” We made this decision together; it wasn’t like I came home day with cameras and was like, “Oh honey, by the way…” We talked about it for a very long time, and he knows and thought it would be good for my life and good for business and fun. At the end of the day, seriously: Why not? I always say, “My friends are my friends and the people who are judging me are probably judging me anyway.” What do you have to lose?
So your goal with being on the show is promotion? Building your business? Staring a skin care line like Ramona? Writing a book like the other ladies?
I have a different goal. I’m not coming out with a skin care line. I really would like to have a foundation. I’m a party planner, and I’ve always wanted to turn the spotlight on women and entrepreneurship and to aiding and sort of motivating. That’s sort of more my platform. I already have a business. I’ve had a company for 16 years, I’ve won Entrepreneur of the Year, I’ve been in Working Woman magazine, I went to the Birthing of Giants program at MIT, I’ve already sort of done that whole thing. That’s not to say I wouldn’t, if someone was like, “Ohhh we love the way your skin looks,” who knows? But that’s not exactly what I’m going into this for. But I do think it’s fun and I think life is a party and it’s about the moment, that’s all you have and that’s what I believe. That’s why I do what I do, and I love it.
Exactly — why not?
At the end of my day, when I’m shriveled and 90, I can say, “You know, at one point people were interested in who I was.” People say, “You have no control over the editing,” but you have control over your mouth. You can control what you say, and if you say something mean, you have to own it. You said it.
As a person who’s been so successful as an entrepreneur, do you have one piece of golden advice for young entrepreneurs?
Do what you love and the money will come. If you think you’re going to do something because it’s going to make a lot of money, you’re focused on the money and not doing what you love.
The other thing I say all the time is, outsource everything but your soul. I think people try to be everything, instead of being exceptional at one thing. To me, we find the thing we are supremely good at. I do that in my life, and I outsource the rest. I always say: “Why cook when you can cater?” I’m not a chef, I don’t cook, but I find the best, and I set a beautiful table. I stick to my planning and I let other people cook. In my life, it would be like a skin care line. It’s not what I do, and it doesn’t feel organic to me.
What do you outsource?
I have three young kids — my oldest is five and I have twin boys that are two — and I’m working full time and doing the show. So when I get home, I want the best use of my time. So that’s being with my kids. I want to give them dinner, give them a bath, read them a book. So if that means that I can’t do my laundry myself, I’m okay with that. If I’m home for two hours, the best use of my time is not to be doing the laundry or cleaning. Believe it or not, I actually find cleaning very therapeutic in my home. I love to throw everything out and organize. But I don’t want to do that when I’m home for a few hours when my kids are going to bed. Kids are the soul.
Sonja Morgan just joined the cast of the show, too. Did you know Sonja beforehand?
I had not known Sonja. She came on before me in terms of taping. She’s hysterical. She’s like the yin to my yang. We are two totally different sides of a coin, yet a good complement I think. I really like Sonja. Both of us are both very fun-loving, both of us are like, “Whatev!” She’s just coming from a different place, but she’s hysterical, I like her.
Is there anything you want to tell viewers?
I come in late and there’s already so much going on, so I think they’re going to have to stick with me and watch what happens.
Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky
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