Elizabeth opens up about life after divorce, why she was guarded upon meeting the Housewives, and why she “couldn’t understand” all of that Kelly Dodd backlash.
RHOC returns for what is sure-to-be a dramatic Season 15 tonight on Bravo and viewers are in store for quite a few changes when they tune in for the premiere.
Not only are longtime Real Housewives of Orange County cast members Vicki Gunvalson and Tamra Judge gone entirely, leaving Shannon Beador to form new friendships amongst the group, almost everyone has a beautiful new home, a new partner—and there is an exciting new Housewife in town.
Elizabeth Lyn Vargas joins RHOC Season 15 as a full-time cast member and ahead of the new season, she opened up to TV Deets EXCLUSIVELY about what fans can expect from our favourite Orange County women.
How do you feel heading into the season?
Elizabeth: Well, it’s been quite the 2020, I’ll tell you that.
Quite a whirlwind, eh?
Elizabeth: Yeah. I would call it a tsunami-tornado-storm.
How are you and your family doing?
Elizabeth: My family is very healthy, thank you for asking. There was a lot that was going on. It’s difficult because I haven’t been able to see them much. Normally, my nieces and nephews are down here [in Newport Beach] and I see them all the time, so in that respect it’s been difficult for me but my brother has been coming down from Washington state, so it’s been kind of nice. I get some family.
How have you found the process of opening up and sharing your life story both with the women, and now, the audience?
Elizabeth: I went through a pretty, pretty long, drawn out, nasty divorce for three years and I was very excited to start a new chapter in my life, and I still am. So when this opportunity came about, I was not really too hesitant. My divorce had already exposed it by going through trials, in court, and everything with my ex-husband. I thought this would be a great opportunity to put myself out there. Go big or go home, right? [Laughs]
If you’re already out there, if you’re already in the public domain, spill the beans and see what happens.
You’re introduced to viewers as a friend of Kelly Dodd’s. What was your relationship like with her prior to joining RHOC?
Elizabeth: I live right on the beach in Newport Beach and Kelly would always come over to my neighbour’s home, Rob, with Jolie or her friends. My patio is right next to his, and they would go on the patio and I would look over and we would wave and we would kind of cheers our drinks from one neighbour to the next.
Eventually, Kelly and the girls came over to my house and we just started to do that, so they would come over all the time. So I got to know Kelly and here I am.
You have a beautiful spot right on the boardwalk.
Elizabeth: This home was my wedding present from my ex-husband so I’m not going to claim that it’s my home by any means but I did put my money towards it. He was the rich one! [Laughs]
We bought the home nine or ten years ago, so we’ve been here a considerable amount of time. I’ve been in Orange County for almost 18 years. I’m not new to it by any means.
As you mentioned, you went through a difficult divorce and we’ve seen people like Shannon Beador and Kelly Dodd deal with the same thing on the show. Was that something you were able to bond over?
Elizabeth: At first, I was hesitant to admit about my divorce being so horrific but once I got to know the girls, they were very understanding about my situation. Shannon, everyone, was really kind about my situation. It was good to get that support from them and I didn’t have that during my divorce.
I was working so much to keep Edge Music [her online music streaming service] alive and I was going through so much at the time, that I didn’t really have time to foster good friendships. So joining The Real Housewives with strong, beautiful women with backbones, I needed that in my life. The girls really came into my life at a good time.
And then the pandemic hits and filming was shut down.
Elizabeth: I gotta tell you, I was just starting to get to the know the women!
I had just met these women, I was learning what they love, what they don’t love, hearing their opinions, just getting to know their personalities and then BAM! COVID.
It has been difficult for some people to manage relationships and friendships during this time. Did you have any difficulty maintaining your relationships with the women once this happened?
Elizabeth: Not really. We all stayed in touch constantly, so that was impressive. It was real friendships being formed.
The pandemic will be heavily covered on the new season and some of the women, including Braunwyn Windham-Burke, will confront Kelly Dodd over her controversial behaviour during quarantine. Being Kelly’s friend, what is your take on the situation?
Elizabeth: It was very difficult. It’s difficult when you get to know someone and you really enjoy hanging out with them and you understand them but you don’t necessarily have to agree with all of their behaviour or all of their beliefs. I’ve seen Kelly in a normal setting and she’s a nice and normal person and I couldn’t understand [the backlash]. I haven’t watched all of the seasons but I couldn’t understand all of the hate and opinions.
There’s a lot of right and a lot of wrong but there used to be a society where you could disagree and then go for a beer! [Laughs]
I believe in wearing a mask and wearing a mask out of respect and I agree with that but I don’t agree with all of the hatred that goes with it. I respect rules and regulations but then again, there’s a lot of people that don’t and I have to respect that, too.
Editor’s Note: Our interview with Elizabeth Lyn Vargas was conducted just a week or so prior to Kelly Dodd wearing and subsequently apologizing for a “Drunk Wives Matter” hat and her comments on some critics just wanting her fired from RHOC.
You’re in the middle.
Elizabeth: Exactly. Braunwyn is right too. Everyone has a right to what they believe in. I respect Braunwyn’s point of view and I respect Kelly’s too. We all have our personalities but when we get together, I wish we could get back to when we could all enjoy a martini and the beach.
Nothing Andy Cohen won’t be able to solve at the reunion.
Elizabeth: You got it! [Laughs] I’m so nervous.
Let’s change gears. This season, viewers will see you launch a new rescue ranch for dogs.
Elizabeth: It’s my passion. I was raised in the midwest and I went through a lot as a young girl. One thing that surrounded me was unconditional love was animals so when I got older, I always wanted to create a place for animals that weren’t necessarily ready to adopt.
I want to create an environment where people can come to an open air ranch and see animals that have been “pre-programmed” for adoption, instead of some of the other shelters, which can be scary. We Care Rescue Ranch is me healing myself over the years, helping these animals, and helping to bring a lot of love to families. Now that COVID has hit, we’re raising money for current charities that are out there and once this is over, we’ll start looking for our own ranch again.
You’re in a new relationship and it causes some drama with the other women. What was it like to expose the ins and outs of your relationship?
Elizabeth: Jimmy is there for me through thick and thin. I get that other people won’t understand my relationship and I’m very difficult to get to know at once because I can be guarded. But once the women opened up to me and I opened up to them, they started to understand it which was nice, because they seemed to judge me for my relationship during the whole season.
That’s interesting because we’ve seen some unorthodox relationships over the years on the show so it’s funny that your relationship was of such an interest to the other women.
Elizabeth: You know, I thought that too. [Laughs] I was like “Why is mine so weird? Look at yours!” But that’s okay, I can take the heat.
When I first started filming, I was going through a major trial with my ex-husband, so I was in between a rock and a hard place. When I first met the women, I was nervous about what I could share. I was nervous about being thrown under the bus. So I get why they didn’t understand it at first. But I spill the beans later in the season, honey!
Anything else as we head into Season 15?
Elizabeth: I’m very excited. It’s going to be out there.
For more RHOC, tune in to the Season 15 premiere TONIGHT, Wednesday, October 14 at 9/8c on Bravo and be sure to follow Elizabeth Lyn Vargas on Instagram.