By Melissa Lindley
Two of The Real Housewives of New Jersey made themselves at home on Feb. 5 in the Bart Luedeke Center.
Melissa Gorga and Kathy Wakile, who are best known for their roles on the hit Bravo television series, spoke to a crowd of enthusiastic students about their experiences.
Prior to the discussion, students were able to sample Wakile’s homemade cann
oli from her new dessert line Dolci della Dea (Goddess Sweets) and listen to a few songs from Gorga’s forthcoming album.
Gorga and Wakile are cousins through marriage — Wakile is the cousin of Gorga’s husband Joe. Gorga is also the sister-in-law of Teresa Giudice, a fellow cast member who is notorious for flipping tables over and being the center of the drama featured on recent seasons.
Assistant Director of Campus Life Nick Barbati opened the question and answer period, asking the women about their lives on the show, before handing the microphone over to students who had questions of their own. Some of the topics included family relationships on the show, adjusting to life as newfound celebrities and advice for students who are looking for love.
Both women started off by talking about their marriages and how they met their husbands, before sharing their perspectives about the change from regular life to being followed by cameramen. Gorga said she felt that the transition was easier than anticipated because she and Wakile are so close.
“We didn’t know what we were entering into,” Gorga said. “I think it was easier having each other to talk to and feeling like we were in this together.”
The family’s dynamics also changed in ways they didn’t foresee. Gorga made reference to her tumultuous relationship with Giudice throughout the show. She and Giudice are currently not speaking with one another.
“I think there were a lot of unexpected twists and turns, a lot of accusations that are ridiculous,” Gorga said. “It comes with the territory. You know what you’re signing up for. You can’t play dumb.”
Despite the conflict with Giudice and her brother-in-law, she expressed that she hopes to reconcile and eventually maintain a healthy relationship with the couple, characterizing Giudice as a “go-getter.”
Gorga also explained how important it is for both her and others to stay genuine and to be as honest as possible when confronted with conflict. Wakile agreed, saying the emotions viewers see on the show are authentic.
For both women it has been a positive and negative experience. Being able to watch themselves played back on a recording gave them a different outlook as an outsider on their behavior, as well as the behaviors of others, allowing them to realize when their words or actions had the potential to be misconstrued.
They also agreed that appearing on the show has been inspiring because many families can relate to the conflicts that have occurred in the episodes, along with the range of emotions that come when dealing with unexpected life events.
During the show, Wakile shared her experiences of having a daughter who suffered from a benign brain tumor and supporting her sister Rosie, who came out as a lesbian this past season. She feels blessed that people have thanked her and the family for opening up to the world and giving inspiration to viewers who are going through similar situations.
“We promised to give our reality,” Wakile said. “It’s what we signed up for. It’s not always good. There are some good things, and there are some that aren’t so great. That’s what we promised to be. We’re not playing anyone else.”
After a deep discussion regarding family relationships, the conversation took a more lighthearted direction, with Gorga and Wakile sharing marriage secrets and tips on how to have a fun Valentine’s Day, whether you’re single or hitched. They also swapped stories about how their husbands proposed.
Gorga told the ladies in the crowd that it’s important to always keep their guy on his toes, not to let themselves go and that by keeping him interested, he’ll be less likely to stray. Wakile and Gorga also gave suggestions on how to spend Valentine’s Day, by either keeping it low-key and simple if you have a date or making it a girl’s night out for the single ladies.
Junior elementary education and psychology major Liz Shapiro enjoyed the ladies’ sense of humor.
“I loved that when someone asked where Melissa got her boots, she said, ‘Oh, I’d never tell you his name — he’s a terrible plastic surgeon,’” Shapiro said. “She thought she said ‘boobs.’”
Aside from the show, both women are working on various side projects. Gorga is in the process of writing a book called Love, Italian Style, which contains advice about how to keep the spark in a marriage and talks about her relationship with her husband. She is also continuing her music career and is currently a spokesperson for Voli Light Vodka. Wakile currently has a mixed cocktail called Red Velvet Cosmo that’s being distributed to liquor stores throughout New Jersey.
Gorga and Wakile seem to have found a balance between trendy and traditional in both the show and their outside endeavors, proving it’s possible to stay current without straying too far from your roots.
Printed in the 2/8/13 edition.