Danielle Staub speaks about 'Real Housewives' exit: 'I didn't want to be treated like crap anymore'
Image Credit: Andrei Jackamets/BravoAfter two seasons of sex tapes, table-flipping, and hair extension-related lawsuits, The Real Housewives of New Jersey will continue on without the show’s self-proclaimed villain, Danielle Staub. But don’t worry, she’ll be back before you know it…with her own reality show! Staub recently spoke with EW about her decision not to return to RHONJ, the closure (or lack thereof) she experienced with the ladies during the two-part reunion special, and how she plans to remain in the public eye.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Bravo recently announced that you are not returning for season 3 of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Who’s decision was that? How did it come about?
DANIELLE STAUB: Well, I knew going into the reunion that I had really no reason to return. I had finished my memoir, my book was out, I’m hitting my marks, and I’m moving on and trying to move up. I don’t think there was anything left. Do I stay on a show where people really hate me? Where I don’t even think they know why? I think that it just became a really big mean girls circle, and it was time for me to say, “I respect myself too much for this.” And not just me — my family, my loved ones. People that care about me were like, “Please do not go back,” because they’re scared for me. It’s scary! I mean, think about it: If you saw your mother, or your loved one, or your best friend being treated like that and you couldn’t do anything about it? And then you worry for them until they get back home from taping an episode. I mean, it’s time for me to go.
What are you going to do next?
Leaving The Real Housewives is actually the best thing I could ever do. [It’s] a peaceful ending for me, and I’m ready to start anew. It was a great platform to me, and now it’s time for me to hit my next mark, which is to let the TV world have a fair portrayal of me. I’m going to get my own show. There’s many options on the table for that, and I’m looking into them.
A lot of people think there isn’t a show without you. What do you think the show will be like if all the ladies return but you?
I appreciate that, and tell a lot of people who are saying that [that] I kind of agree [laughs]. I think that there will always be something missing without me, but I had to make the choice that was right for me. I don’t know what the show will be like. I probably won’t be watching, to be honest with you. I had to live through it, so I’m going to say goodbye to that part of my life. And onward and upward.
So would you consider your own reality show “up” from the The Real Housewives?
A spin-off is definitely where I’m headed, [but] I’m not allowed to announce any networking right now. “Up” meaning, you do have to move up, you can’t stay in the same place. Staying in the same place would be like me saying, “Okay, I’m going to stay here because I can be purchased to be treated like crap,” and I didn’t want to be treated like crap anymore. I had to value my own self, and I had to know that there were other offers as well coming in to me, so I knew there was a desire out there for me.
So what is the objective of a new show for you? How would it be different from The Real Housewives?
The objective is it’s a reality show, so everyone’s going to take something different from it, I believe. I think that the great thing about reality is it affects everybody a little bit differently because [you are] seeing someone else’s reality. Either [it] makes someone feel better about their own life, worse about their own life, or indifferent about their own lives, but it gets people to live vicariously through your life. I’ve become this established character, which is interesting to people for many different reasons. Some people because I’m controversial, some people because I’m a single mom, some people because they may be the same age as me — 48 years old — and, you know, close to 50, some people might be starting over, some people might be in a troubled relationship, some people might have a teenage daughter the same age as mine, or a 12-year-old the same age as mine. They might find me relatable for different reasons, which is the beauty of it. It’s going to be everything, I think, all rolled into one. But the great thing is, is it’s a chance for me to really be me, not me according to other people — castmates, I should say.
Has anything changed since the reunion ended peacefully, when it seemed like you had made amends with the ladies?
It’s funny, is that really the perception? That everybody was making amends?
Well not everyone, I would say you and Jacqueline…
…because I’d really like to know. You know I’m being seen, at least in the end, for it being me stepping up to the plate, right down to the end, saying, “Let’s stop this.” And I really don’t like to say, “Please give me credit for things,” but I’m going to have to ask for credit on that one [laughs]. Because even at the end, Teresa’s still screaming at me, and I just got off the couch and went and hugged her. I don’t think that that’s speaking powerfully enough for what can happen when you just embrace somebody. It does shut them down a lot faster than telling people to shut up, or chasing them, or let’s see, what they’ve been doing to me for two years? So it wasn’t them really making amends, it was me. And the only person I really, really, really needed closure with — and I’m going to be honest here, and I hate to sound mean or confrontational — is Jacqueline. Jacqueline and I had a very close relationship at one point, and it was important to me that I saw this change go on halfway through taping [of the reunion] in her. That was when you see my face completely change and I relaxed. [It was] the first conversation — conversation! — with dialogue, real dialogue, real feelings of my own that was going on between a castmate and myself. If you think about it, that had not happened all season.
And you can see the change come over me and it was only pointed out to me — you know I’ve been caught up in a press frenzy as you can imagine — but it was pointed out by my fans, who said “Wow! You were okay there at that point…” I think what really shows is that — and I don’t mean to start trouble — Caroline’s not comfortable when anyone’s speaking their mind. Especially when it goes against what she had planned, and that was to not let me go without a problem. I was attacked from the moment I sat down! From the very moment I was brought into that room. But Jacqueline, she showed remarkable courage. I know that family cannot have been very easy on her after that. And even if she has been speaking out and doing things or saying things that aren’t so nice about me, you know what? I don’t even hear them, I don’t care to hear them. What I know in my heart is that I said to her, “No more.” And “no more” to me means no more. As far as the rest of them are concerned, they’re pretty much fair game. [They’re] not going to say things about me and expect me to be asked questions about what they have said about me, accused me of, and expect me to then say, “Oh, I’m not going to say anything because I said I want peace.” I want peace, [but] you better give me peace too! If you make something up, if you lie about something, don’t expect me to say, “It’s okay, I’m letting it go now, moving on,” No. I am going to defend it and I am going to respond to it. If it’s true, and if something is right, then I will admit it.
Do you think you will ever reach similar closure with Teresa or Caroline?
Well I have, and once they stop talking about me…I’ll know when they stop talking about me, because you won’t be asking me questions — and sorry to lump you in. I don’t have to read things. I don’t have time to A), and B) no offense, because I love all of you very dearly, and you make me alive, you keep me alive, and I have great relationships within the press, but I don’t read what doesn’t make me feel good. So if you ask me a question, I can pretty much figure out what’s going on by my interviews, when somebody brings it to my attention or I receive a text message. I will guarantee that I will only answer questions about them when I’m asked, and it’s normally questions that have to do with me. If anyone was asking me questions about their personal life, something that just maybe unfolded, that I had nothing to do with, that wasn’t in context of the show, or anything else, it really wouldn’t be my place. I would probably say, “I’m not passing judgment, I don’t know anything about it.” But if it’s something that’s being thrown at me, I’m going to have to talk about it.
Would Teresa’s financial situation be lumped into that? Is that something you feel you can’t comment on?
Oh, I can comment on that. I wouldn’t wish it upon anybody. I can’t sit back at watch people glorify — her glorify — saying, “Oh, I didn’t know, and after I filed bankruptcy I went and spent $60 grand…” I can’t, I cannot let her justify that. I’m going through hard times! We all go through hard times, but go through the hard times. That’s what makes you stronger. So I’m going to say I will respect her when she just owns up to it. When I said her house was in foreclosure, I was right. She’s still saying it’s not, but she didn’t pay the mortgage — it’s the same thing. Your house is in foreclosure if you don’t pay the mortgage! Do I know for a fact anything that is going on with her? No I do not, but as she stated about me in season 1, “the court documents don’t lie.” It’s sad that her children are having to see this change, but I do believe there’s a big lesson in it for her. I believe there’s a big lesson in it for her whole family, and I think that if it’s not yours, you shouldn’t spend it. Stop, be honest. I mean, I exposed myself to the world. So I would say my advice to her would be: Stop, you’re teaching your children that this is okay. It’s not okay! You cannot afford that house, you cannot afford that lifestyle, and there’s just a point in your life when you have to say, enough is enough. It’s $11 million. That’s crazy, they never earned that kind of money! That, to me, feels very wrong. That could feed a whole country! [Laughs] I’m sorry, but I don’t think it’s right and I wouldn’t think it was right if it was anyone other than Teresa either. I don’t think it’s right for the other ladies to consider themselves friends when they’re telling her to defend this. There is no defense for this. And stop saying it’s your husband’s fault. It’s both of you. You have four children. You have to be aware something’s going on. Come on! I just don’t like people who are fake. I don’t.
At the reunion, you also mentioned that Teresa didn’t acknowledge her nephew, which really set her off. What’s going on with that?
Well, if you noticed, there were two times this season I saw Teresa, and both those times I said something that ended [up] to be the truth. What did she do? She chased after me, only I didn’t run one of the times. But she did attack me, no? So if the foreclosure is true, which proved to be true, the nephew comment, it came straight from her sister-in-law, her brother’s wife. I have emails Melissa [Gorga] had been sending me all season telling me all about Teresa and Joe. It started a really big problem in the family, and she let me know, Melissa did.
What do you plan to do with your music career?
Well, very soon, this month, I’m releasing my first solo song, which is called “Cry,” and it’s going to be attached to one of my most passionate charities, stopping domestic violence. It is going to be definitely one of the first times people are literally going to be able to hear and feel what it is like to be, not only mentally and sexually abused, or physically abused, but even in a relationship that went bad. The song is just so full of emotion and victory, and I’m very proud. I’m very, very proud and, of course, it was written by Lori Michaels, so it will be the next of three more songs that will be released over the next few months.
Do you have a full album coming out?
It’s going to be a full EP. I’m very excited. The next [single] is going to be a remake of an ’80s song, and after that is going to be a rock song which is sort of Pink, but it’s a duet. It’s like a Pink version of rock. You know, she’s kind of raspy and raw, and a little bit naughty. But I like to play with that line. You know me. I like to walk that line.
So how do you hope people see you now as you pursue your own music, your own reality show? If you felt you weren’t portrayed correctly by The Real Housewives, how do you hope to be perceived now?
I don’t have a preconception of how I want people to perceive me. I want to be just me. I mean, I have drama in my life. We have fights in our lives. I have people around me that care, but isn’t it great that you have resolve when you care about other people? And that’s what I want to show — just to keep it real. I think I will always be marked as the realest Housewife [sic]. I kept it real. I made the stage and the platform to keep it real, and I don’t think that anyone would disagree, it won’t be the same without me. But with that said, I’m going to keep that element alive in my own show, because I’ve been called — and I’m going to own up to it — “The Susan Lucci of Reality TV.” I’m fine with that. A villain is sexy if you think about it, and you look at the real definition. She’s not a bad girl, she’s a villain. And I’m the villain, so I’ll own it.