Justine Santaniello: An expressive outsider from Long Island, much like myself, Gina Kirschenheiter joined the cast of ‘The Real Housewives of Orange County’ in season 13 ready to shake things up. She joins us now to chat about her new home and love life, raising their combined six kids, and all that comes along with being a real housewife in a real pandemic. Hey Gina!

Gina Kirschenheiter: Thanks for having me Justine!

Justine: Now from one Long Island girl to another, I’ve always dreamed of what it would be like to live in California, so how would you describe the differences between New York and California? Which do you like better now?

Gina: Um okay so the biggest differences are definitely the weather, the food, and the people. And I’ll tell you I love the weather here, but I much prefer the food and the people in New York.

Justine: Okay! That makes sense! No that makes a lot-that makes a lot of sense!

Gina: Yeah, and even like honestly there are-even Travis is from California, but he doesn’t seem like that to me, you know? And I think like, you know how it is, even-it’s not even something meant to be purposely insulting. It’s just like New York people are my people. You know? So I’m more comfortable with that type of vibe, and it’s definitely like a very different vibe of people, so.

Justine: Now, as a reality star your life is out there for all to see, and we saw on a recent episode of ‘housewives’ that you decided to give a victim impact statement regarding a past incident with your now ex-husband. Can you tell us a little bit more about that and what you hope other women will gain from your experience?

Gina: Um in all honesty, and I guess this is-was me being kind of naive to it, I didn’t honestly realize the impact that it was going to have sharing it, and I really truly was just stuck in my own stuff. Um, I-that’s why I don’t even think I was at a-it-it was even a time where I could be thinking about how it would affect other women, but since doing it and sharing even from last year the little bit that at the reunion, I-I-it’s-I have so many women reach out to me and I-it’s-it’s-in-unbelievable, but it’s believable how many women are out there all different levels of abuse and situations and everything, but it makes me happy if it does help somebody else find that confidence to stick up for themselves. I feel like for me it really was about me needing to do this for myself, um-and-and ultimately we still are going through it because he hasn’t-because of covid-he hasn’t even come to finalize his court case and everything, but it helped me really to start to treat my ex differently and since then I feel like we’re-it does change-it has changed him for the better and we’re able to now like co-parent better. Um, I don’t think that that will happen for every woman, you know, just because you-you do it for yourself and you stand up to them, some men will never change, but I still think it’s important for you as a woman to make yourself healed and whole.

Justine: Yes.

Gina: And it’s a long journey, like just because I was able to acknowledge that, it was very healthy for me and good for me, but I still now-I only recently started to go to therapy for that because I couldn’t even open up that box for like a long time. You know, it’s been over a year now and it feels good that I am able to start to-to talk about that and release some of that like hurt and anger and start to heal.

Justine: So, how has pandemic life been for you between trying to film a show safely, having three kids out of school, plus three others part time, how has life been?

Gina: Yeah it was-it was really hard Justine, like really hard. We, um, first of all of course like stopping production of the show was really major. You know, and that-when I heard the kids were not going to school, and then we were stopping filming the show, I-that’s when I really realized like this is very bad. Um, and it-what-the second half of the year last year-do you have kids?

Justine: Yes, I have one three-year-old.

Gina: Okay, that’s enough right?


Gina: But, um, yeah so the homeschooling the second half of the year was really hard, and I think also the added element-uh-it was hard for me and Travis here at homeschooling with six kids but then the new adjustment in the co-parenting with my ex was so difficult because we’ve never had to share that responsibility before like that, so that I think like had a very big impact on everything as well. Um, and just not knowing, you know, was like the not knowing when this was going to be over, and to a certain extent even now. You know, now it’s just like the majority of my relationship with Travis too has been during quarantine so I-I would say though the one good thing is if you can-if you make it through that you’re probably pretty solid. I feel good about that, but it’s still just so sad that we can’t even just like go to a restaurant and you know go on like a regular date it’s just not normal, it’s really weird and tough.

Justine: Yeah and trying to do that while also trying to film the show in whatever kind of way they were giving you guys was prob-I would imagine also hard because we’re seeing now in the episodes you guys trying to take home footage, and you know phone footage.

Gina: Yeah that’s all we had was the home-the home footage, and uh, I remember like my producer called me at one point and-Thomas-and he was like Gina if you don’t send us some videos you’re not even going to be in this episode and I was like hanging on by a thread like the last thing I could do was try to set up the camera and set it out in the middle of the chaos, um, so and then I think it is funny because I’m really not much in the home footage one but I’m thankful for that because also my home footage was horrifying. Um, so yeah it was really difficult, and then also, you know what, then when we-we got the green light to go back to production we did everything extremely cautiously and safely, but I was still very concerned how people were going to perceive that like we have a show to make we have a responsibility we have to continue to finish out this season, but now we’re going on vacation in the middle of a pandemic. You know, so for me I was trying to reconcile those things in my head, but ultimately the show must go on you know, so.

Justine: Yeah, and I mean listen I-I literally just watched last night when you guys went to Lake Arrowhead, and at the end of the day it was just you guys, you’re wearing your masks when appropriate. Obviously-

Gina: Yeah.

Justine: -You know you must be getting covid tested constantly so-

Gina: We were, yeah.

Justine: From a viewer perspective, I never thought twice, that-

Gina: I felt bad for the crew honestly-

Justine: Yeah.

Gina: The crew had to jump through 10 million more hoops just to be able to get it done, and like my hat really goes off to all the crew on our show because they did a phenomenal job just you know following protocol to let us be able to complete this season.

Justine: Alright now we gotta spill a little tea. We’ve been hearing a lot about your co-star Braunwyn in the press lately. Where is your friendship at with her and what are your thoughts on all of her latest headlines?

Gina: It’s really difficult for me with Braunwyn because I-she’s just very tough for me because as much as like I-and I’m honest with her, tell her to her face-a lot of the stuff that she does just genuinely annoys me, but I-I still do feel bad for her and I do recognize that she really is going through a lot of pretty heavy, major stuff right now, um, and I did-we just did the reunion and then I talked to her after the reunion and she is having like a tough go of it, you know, in a lot of different areas of her life, but she still just like does it in a way that like, “ugh”, like annoys everybody so it’s hard with her.

Justine: It’s been a lot, it’s a lot here even from a viewer’s standpoint one announcement after the next, after the next, after the next it almost feels slightly disingenuous from an outsider’s perspective, so are you guys friendly when you know you’re not filming anymore-

Gina: Right.

Justine: -so when you write all these things do you feel like an obligation to-to be there for her?

Gina: And I-I guess in a small sense because I just-but not because she puts it on me just because I just feel like sort of obligated to do it because to me Braunwyn is the person who she does all these flashes and bells and whistles I feel like she’s really deflecting from like having to deal with like her actual issues in a way and then she’ll say things like she said a few things at the reunion that really just like got to me in a way that like really just-I can’t stop thinking about it like certain things bother me so much and so like then I reach out and we weren’t talking towards the, you know, the whole after we wrapped filming because then she was saying a lot of stuff in press that was bothersome to me, but I did feel bad after reunion and I told her that I think we should try-I just like to go for a cup of coffee and see where it goes from there, so um, you know I’m-I’m gonna-I’m always gonna try.

Justine: Now what has the latest season been like without the OC all-stars, Tamra and Vicki? Do you still keep in touch with them? Are you missing them? How’s it going?

Gina: So, Vicky no because Vicky doesn’t, wouldn’t, you know, care to stay in touch with anybody and that’s the way she likes it and that’s the way we like it too so that’s good. Um, Tamra was not very happy with some of the comments that I made in press about how I did feel like the season was super successful and felt more like organic and real, but she actually just texted me, or dm’ed me, like two days ago and we’ve been chatting and you know what the thing about Tamra is she can’t like-she just puts it out there she’s like, “yeah I was pissed at you for saying those things, but I’m over it,” you know so, um, for me at first when I first heard that like Tamra wasn’t going to be on it I was really nervous because she is a big force and energy on the show and she was a driver of the show and I was like, “what are we gonna do now?” You know, because I’m not a driver of the show. I don’t know how I always end up in the-the drama and the crosshairs because I-I don’t go for that at all. I’m just there, you know, but um, she moved things forward and progressed things and-and it was scary but then it’s kind of one of those things you don’t know until you get in it and actually-it really did sort of-like I think it cleared space for other people to take more space, you know? So, it really worked out really well

Justine: Alright so you are three seasons into the OC now. I have to ask, are you liking it still?

Gina: Yeah, I-I do like it. You know like there are things about it that it’s-it’s a lot of work it really is it’s so much more than people think. Um, but it’s fun and it’s fun, you know what, it-even though we all go through a lot of, uh, major stuff on the show, my favorite part is just watching-I make myself laugh. The ridiculous things I say and that’s fun and it’s a good opportunity and we get to experience great things together and it’s a once in a lifetime thing you know, so I’m-I feel very privileged to be a part of it even though sometimes it gets a little crazy. Um, but like that dinner with Emily was like everything for me. Watching that-

Justine: That was fun.

Gina: Like oh my god, I don’t even remember half of the stuff that we were saying, so watching it back just-that stuff is the good stuff you know? So, yes I love it. I still think it’s great.

Justine: When you called Braunwyn when you were drunk that night was everything. You’re like, “no let’s call her, let’s go”.

Gina: “Let’s get her on the phone, dial her up”.

Justine: Thank you so much Gina for being so open and honest and just such a blast to talk to. Lots of luck to you and your lovely family. We can’t wait to keep watching you on the OC.

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