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Braunwyn Windham-Burke: On Sobriety, Queerness, and 7 Kids

By July 22, 2022August 1st, 2022No Comments

Photo: Mccall Miller

Braunwyn Windham-Burke is one of the leading cast members of The Real Housewives of Orange County. After joining the cast for season 15 of RHOC, Braunwyn soon became a fan favorite. Known for running popular mommy blog, “Barefoot in Heels,” she has since taken back the spotlight for coming out as gay and, although still married to her husband, is happily in a relationship with a woman. Always a pioneer for a modern and forward thinking way of live Braunwyn stands out from some of the other women in her Housewife world. Along with being openly gay, Braunwyn has also been outspoken about her journey with sobriety, publicly documenting her journey and being a voice for those who are working to find themselves later in life. Although she left the show before season 16, her legacy and mark will be forever remembered with the women of Orange County.

Happy: Okay, so you were on RHOC for two iconic two seasons, what is the most valuable lesson that you learned from being on the show?

Braunwyn: To know yourself? I think when you get cast on these shows, you really don’t have any idea how the outside noise is going to affect you. I didn’t know how big it was until I was in it. I used to use social media to keep up with my friends and my family. I didn’t realize how many people hate-watched and how if you let the good or bad either way into your life, how much it would affect you. So I think that was probably the biggest thing for me was staying true to who I was without the outside interference of people’s perception of who I was.

Happy: That’s awesome. You seem on the show to be so good at that, at just being yourself regardless.

Photo: Mccall Miller
Braunwyn: I think it was a learning curve, my first season, I was drinking a lot, I was drinking a lot. I was so nervous. I would show up to film with such bad anxiety because I’ve always been a girl’s girl. I’ve always had girlfriends in my real life, people similar to me. So I went into that situation thinking that it would be the same way. I was ill-prepared for it, I guess. In life, if I had ever been around women that were so petty, the kind of women that when bad things happen, actually they’re happy about, I would just walk away from them. Those have never been the people that I’ve been attracted to. So I was ill-prepared for being surrounded by women that were just, so, at the end of the day, sad, I think. So I would go into filming, and I’d be so nervous because I wasn’t used to being around people that didn’t like me. So I would drink to cover it up. My second season watched me through recovery, and I think recovery is a very long process. It’s not that you put down the drink and get better. Recovery is an ongoing, lifelong process. So you start to see the beginning phases of me sort of figuring out who I am that second season.

Happy: What you’re saying is so relatable for so many people. It was so amazing to see you be so open about such a personal battle. I just thank you so much for doing that, because I know that a lot of people learned and were motivated by that… by your transparency.

Braunwyn: That was probably the most beautiful thing about being on the show, was I’ve actually had people who have reached out. ‘You know, I got sober because I saw that RHOC episode, My name is Braunwyn, and I’m An Alcoholic.’I was in an event with someone this weekend, Gesuina in El Paso, it was that story that made her take a look at herself. Actually, we’ll be there tomorrow night. If you’re in town at the Playhouse, Logan Hardcore, the drag Queen there, reached out to me through Margaret Josephs and said, “I got sober. I was at my rock bottom when that episode aired, and I got sober because of you.” It’s those connections that have been so important and so powerful to my recovery. I’m so blessed. I’m so blessed.

Happy: That’s amazing. How do you feel to know that you’re inspiring so many people?

Braunwyn: I think a big part of recovery is sharing our stories, because, for me, there’s a lot of pressure sometimes, because recovery is one day at a time, and you’re never cured. Every day I take my medicine, which is therapy, meetings, and meditation. So there’s always that thing, I don’t want to be a role model, because what if I relapse? Keep in mind, that this is my third time getting sober, so I never take it for granted. But it’s also that accountability and that friendship and that community that helps me. So I’m so excited to inspire people, but then people inspire me daily, too. So it’s a give and takes.

Happy: That’s very cool, I love that! I really think that you are so powerful in your wanting to connect with people based on your experience, I think it’s so monumental.

Braunwyn: That’s probably the best part of the whole thing is that it gives you kind of a platform of some sort so that you can reach out to people. I really am grateful for all of that. My life now doesn’t resemble anything close to my life four years ago, but it’s in such a beautiful way. My world has gotten so much bigger, and that’s the other thing, too, when you’re drinking, your world is small. Your world is very tiny, and when I got sober, my world opened up. And I still look around… I was walking along the waterfront yesterday in Brooklyn because, well you’re in New York! You know that yesterday was phenomenal.

Happy: It was amazing.

Braunwyn: Right? Everyone was out, and it was beautiful, and when I’m walking around the waterfront in Brooklyn, I start crying sometimes. I will be in New York, and I will get tears in my eyes of happiness because I’m staring out of the Empire State Building, I can see the Statue of Liberty. People of all ages, all races you know, everyone is living their best authentic self in the city, New York is amazing! I just had this feeling of gratitude, I get to live here now. I get to be a part of this. I am so happy.

Happy: I’m so glad that you’re so happy. You definitely deserve it.

Braunwyn: Yeah. We’re lucky. We are lucky because you’re not far from me! We’re lucky that we get to experience living in the city. You’re young. So for me, I said, “God, I wish I could be young in the city.” That was an unfulfilled dream since I was having kids. I say how cool is it that I get to be 44 and get the second chance to live a life unlead, a path not taken. It’s pretty cool.

Happy: Yeah, I think that’s really really inspiring. You get to kind of have the best of both worlds, you know?

Braunwyn: Absolutely. So Sean and I, we have our house in Orange County, and I go back and forth, and he goes back and forth. So I’m home for about nine or ten days, and then I come here for five or six. So for me, I get to go home and be the single mom, I get to do all the carpooling and all the kid’s stuff, and I love it. Then I get to come here and get to be just Braunwyn. I get to live with Victoria, I get to be this single gay woman, and then I get to go home, and I get to be a full-time mom. It really is the best of both worlds.

Happy: That’s such a blessing and a bit of a luck in life. I am happy for you! So you have seven kids, which is so honorable and amazing to even think of. Have you always wanted to have a big family?

Braunwyn: Absolutely. On my first date with Sean, I said, “I don’t want to work outside the home, I want to have five kids, I want to be a stay-at-home mom.” I grew up with my mom, who was a doctor, and she went back to Med school. So as a little kid, I sort of idealized the stay-at-home moms and the brownie troop leaders. That’s what I want now. Obviously, I was very young, and I didn’t realize that no family is perfect. But to seven-year-old Braunwyn, I would look at these families, and I was saying, ‘that’s perfect, I want that.’ So that was really my dream. Obviously, we have seven, not five. We had some losses along the way, some really traumatic events that led me to want to have a couple more. But my sixth child, Koa, was a twin that we lost. I was about five months pregnant, and she lost her twin. That’s why we had another one because it was very hard to stay pregnant with one baby knowing that the other one wasn’t alive. It was a mind F, for lack of a better word. There was that.
Happy: I’m so sorry.

Braunwyn: Yeah. It’s one of those things that I put in a box, and I’m dealing with it now, but it’s one of those things that I say, ‘okay.’ Then I move forward. So there was a reason why we had seven and not five, but I definitely always wanted a large family. Now looking, if you go home, Bella, my oldest, 21, she still comes to visit, she’s five minutes away. Rowan, 19, my second kid, is in LA, which is an hour, and she comes and spends the night all the time. The kids do sleepovers at Bella’s house. They are so close. I am so lucky because when you’re parenting, you’re saying, “Am I doing it right? Am I doing a good job now?” I look at the older ones, I say, “Oh okay, cool. Yeah, that works, great!”

Happy: I love that. It’s so beautiful when siblings are bonded. You seem to be such a great mom on the show, and I’m sure you are in real life, too.

Braunwyn: Thank you, thank you.

Happy: Of course. So you are someone that was, kind of, in my opinion, instantly loved and adored on RHOC, which is rare in the Real Housewives franchise. How did it feel to begin this journey and be faced with such fame and success so early on?

Braunwyn: Honestly, it’s funny. I had always watched the housewife shows, and so if I saw Tamra Judge out in real life, I’d say, “Oh, my God”, I would never say anything to her. But I was always because I lived in Orange County, so I thought it would be more of a big deal than it was. The truth is, it doesn’t change that much in your town. No one there really cares. Most people don’t watch the show. I remember I was in Hawaii and they didn’t have my car, and I was crying, and the lady said, “Oh, how’s Tamra? Is she still on the show?” I think there are a lot of people who remember watching it, but honestly, my actual day-to-day life didn’t change at all. Not at all. I was still doing carpool. I was still going to the grocery store, I mean, nothing. I think I got invited to a few more events, but that was about it, honestly, it wasn’t until I was let go that it started to kind of become something more, because by then, I was really advocating for social justice. I had come out, I was doing a lot of work with the sober community. So for me, it was more my advocacy work that was kind of getting me into the news and into the press than it ever had been on the show, if that makes sense.

Happy: Yeah, that definitely makes sense. That’s such a great thing, I think, to be catapulted by social justice. That’s pretty wonderful.

Braunwyn: I mean, definitely during the pandemic we all sort of had a view into the world’s issues. It became very clear we couldn’t tune out anymore. We were all at home watching as Brianna Taylor and George Floyd were murdered. So I think for me, it was easy to get wrapped up in raising kids, in my BS of life, and tune things out that didn’t affect me. I think that was the first time for me personally, (obviously, we have very different experiences), but for me personally, where I said, “Wow, this has to change. What can I do? What is my part in this and what can I do if I can’t make a difference on a global level? What can I do to make a difference in my kids’ lives, in my community, in my kid’s school, and in my friends?” That really kind of got me more involved. I think once you take that first step to be involved, you start opening your eyes and you’re saying, “Oh, my God, how did I not see all this? What was wrong with me? What was going on that I didn’t notice?” So that’s when I started getting more active and more involved because once you realize things, you can’t unrealize them.

Happy: Totally. That definitely makes sense. You’re definitely making a difference by getting involved. I think every step helps, and it’s also that not everyone gets involved. So it is a special thing to do.

Braunwyn: I think it’s hard too, especially when you’re in a world such as ‘Housewives,’ the majority of viewers are middle-aged white women, and they don’t want to feel bad. They want to watch TV to feel nothing. I think a lot of reality TV is to tune out. I call it ‘McDonald’s for the brain.’ So they don’t want people questioning the very basis of their identity in their lives. I don’t want to watch TV to feel bad. My whole thing is it’s not to make you feel bad, it’s to make you feel activated and to own part of it. Just read some books. ‘White Fragility,’ by Robin Diangelo, and ‘How To Raise White Kids’, by Jennifer Harvey, were just things that I read as just a perspective change. You don’t feel bad, you feel empowered. Right? But that, I think, is hard for a lot of people. I think people are just innately tired and a little bit lazy.

Happy: I definitely agree with that, but I think what you’re doing to grow is super powerful. I think that when you’re not put in the circumstance to have to help, and you do it anyway, I think it’s very cool.

Braunwyn: Thanks.

Happy: So, your infamous mom, Dr. Deb, was so entertaining on RHOC and seemed to have an aura about her that was so positive and kind of unapologetic. What was it like to have such a special person as your mom?

Braunwyn: I mean, growing up, the mom you see now, I call her ‘Rainbow Deb,’ and that’s what my kids call her… that’s not the mom I had. My mom wore St. John suits. I mean she was totally different, she had the ‘Rachel’ haircut.

Happy: Wow.

Braunwyn: Do you know what that means?

Happy: I do, of course.

Braunwyn: Okay. I forget sometimes when I talk to young people. She was totally different. So it wasn’t until she went to her first Burning Man, I would say 21 years ago. So I’m 44. So I didn’t grow up with Rainbow Deb. I grew up with Dr. Deb. But I will say, my favorite thing about my mom is just how accepting she is of everyone. My kids have a safe place with her. Children love her. She’s always embracing everyone. I love her. I will say since separating from my ex-husband, we’ve definitely gotten closer, because I’ve needed her. I’ve always been very, “I’m fine on my own”, but I’ve needed my parents, my mom, and my dad and my sister, my brother. I’ve needed them. They’ve really stepped up and had my back and all my kids’. So I think my mom and I went through a lot of turmoil, especially when I was drinking. She tried to get me to stop drinking for a while, and so instead of not drinking, I pushed her away. But I will say this, last year we’ve gotten so much closer, and I’m so grateful. But she’s fun, she went to Antarctica with a bunch of Burning Man people on a boat.

Happy: Wow.

Braunwyn: What parent does that, you know? I love the fact, too, that when I came out, it was not a big deal. I said, “Hey Mom, I’m gay.” and she said, “That actually makes more sense.” She’s been so kind to Victoria. Everyone in my family has. Even my grandparents who are a little older, and they’re Southern Baptist in Mississippi. They might not get it, but they’ve been so kind and so loving. I’ve been very lucky.

Happy: It’s so nice to have a great relationship with your mom and to know that the people that you love are there when you need them.

Braunwyn: Yeah, she was there, she was there. I remember one night, in particular, I called her devastated. It was one of those days where you’re so low, you don’t know how you’re going to get through the next morning, you really don’t know if you can. The pain was so intense. I called her from the floor, I said, “I need you”, and she was there, she was there in 2 hours.

Happy: That’s beautiful. I’m sure that was so comforting to have that happen.

Braunwyn: Yeah, I think we just sat in my bed and she took care of the kids and just, held me, and that’s what I needed at the time.

Happy: That is definitely a precious memory to have. And you are so blessed to have that relationship with your mom. So, after 16 years of the Real Housewives franchise airing on Bravo, you are the first openly gay housewife. You are completely a legend. I hope you know how amazing you are for even just being the first openly gay Housewife because, after 16 years on Bravo, I think that amount of time shows that it is not an easy thing to do.

Braunwyn: Yeah. I didn’t go into it expecting that. I always knew I was bi. You can see that during my first season how I talk about being more attracted to women, but Sean’s my person. So I don’t think anyone was shocked. Tamra jokes about the fact that she knew right away. I’ve always said I’m more attracted to women, but Sean is my person. But obviously, a lot of things happen. So for me, it was getting sober and being with a woman for the first time, sober, I was saying, “Oh, I’m not even a little bit straight.” I’m not and I’m not. I was never straight. I think I grew up in a very different time than you are. So when I was growing up, I didn’t have that representation. If you wanted to get married and have kids, you married a man. That is plain and simple. Women weren’t getting married. Obviously, it was illegal. Adoption wasn’t a thing for gay couples. IVF was still very new, and it wasn’t attainable. So, for me, back then, I would have made a choice: do you want to be a gay woman living in an out life, which would have been very hard because words stating “that’s so gay”, were still insults when I was growing up, or do you want to just be with a man, and have the life? I chose that, and I don’t regret it because I have seven beautiful children. Sean is a great person, but I’m so happy that my kids are growing up with this representation. I wish I had gotten to show this more on the show. Dating Victoria, living life as a gay woman. But I think once the doors open a little bit, that’s all it takes. That’s in every industry, Real Housewives of Miami has a same-sex couple on it now. So I think once that door is open, it becomes easier and easier, and the rest of the country gets a little more comfortable with it. I have noticed. I’m sure you have, too. In the past few months, especially, there’s been a huge backlash against the LGBTQ community. There are a lot of bills on the ballots in the States right now, Florida, Texas, and Arkansas that are atrocious and trying to chip away the rights of gay people and trans people. But I hope that by keeping this in mainstream culture and keeping this on TV, eventually, changes are going to happen.

Happy: Yeah, and I hope so, too. Do you ever feel pressure as if you are representing an entire community in the world of Bravo?

Braunwyn: No, not at all. I think there are not a lot of gay women in Bravo. There’s Captain Sandy, there’s Chef Melissa. There’s the new housewife on ‘Real Housewives of Miami,’ Julia Lemigova, who’s married to Martina Navratilova. There are a lot of queer women in Bravo. Like Noella Bergener. So I do think there’s representation. I think Captain Sandy and Leah are a beautiful representation of a strong, powerful gay couple of women. I would love to keep living my life similar to this and keep showing that for me, coming out later in life is okay, too. I’ve had a lot of women reach out to me, but no, I don’t feel pressure similar to that because, I think, for me, it’s so easy to just live my life and figure it out. It was hard at first. It was definitely hard at first because a lot of people didn’t believe me when I first came out. There were a lot of backlashes that I was making it up for a storyline. So I think, now, people are saying, “Okay, she’s obviously she’s been with her girlfriend for eight months now. They’re living together. This is real.” So I think now it’s just, you know, showing the world that this is no different than any other loving relationship.

Happy: Right. And it isn’t.

Braunwyn: It’s not! I was having a conversation with Vic yesterday. I was saying “I don’t understand. I was not invited to a family wedding, and I don’t know why I’m the only person that wasn’t.” But I have a feeling this is it because the family is very Catholic and I just said, “I don’t understand because me loving you is no different than me loving a man.” To me, it doesn’t feel any different. It just feels like home.

Happy: Yeah. People really miss out on amazing people by being queerphobic.

Braunwyn: It’s so weird that people make such a big deal out of just who you love.

Happy: It’s very strange.

Braunwyn: It’s exactly the same. I don’t know. It really shouldn’t be such an issue. It really shouldn’t.

Happy: Yeah, I completely agree with that. I kind of grew up with my friend’s parents being gay and my friends being queer and the people my mom worked with. It was just my environment. But I know that older people, kind of see it differently. So I think that for you to be in your realm of Bravo, where people are in a different generation, and to still come out is super brave and monumental.

Braunwyn: Thank you. The choice was made for me, but I’m glad it was. There was a photo that leaked that TMZ had, but I’m so grateful now. I’m so grateful that I get to live my life out of the closet and authentically. It was hard. It was hard when I first said those words, and it kind of blew my life up. But, God, I’m so grateful.

Happy: So your amazing daughter, Rowan has been so beautifully opened up about her mental health journey on the show, and as of lately, you seem to have such a great understanding and connection with her. What has it been as a mother to support her throughout her experiences?

Braunwyn: I think, in our household, we’ve just grown up with, when you ask a question, ‘how are you doing?’ We mean it. We’ve always had a very open, honest relationship that’s so important to me with my kids. So when Rowan started struggling… at first, she actually came to New York for a summer intensive for dance. She’s a classically trained dancer, and that’s part of the issue, dancing is hard on how you look, so it all started with eating, and OCD. It was really tough. It’s very tough to get mental health help for someone you love. When she was underage, we were able to do it, we were able to send her to treatment twice. Once she hit 18 and she was in control of her own mental health, it was a disaster. Recently, Kyle Richards from ‘Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ had a friend that passed away and she was talking about how she couldn’t get her the help she wanted. I was so happy that Kyle [Richards] was talking about this because no one knows until you’re in the situation that if someone is over 18 and you know they’re not okay, there’s almost nothing you can do. Despite what you see with Britney Spears, getting someone 51/50, or a long-term conservatorship is almost impossible. So when Rowan hit that age that we weren’t in control anymore, we had to watch her spiral. Luckily, we had the foundation of honesty and openness so, we could talk with her about it. It turns out she was misdiagnosed. Mismedicated. She does not have bipolar disorder, which we were originally told. She has borderline personality disorder. So once we got her off the wrong medication, which made her suicidal. She tried to kill herself. Then, she started to do therapy and get better, and we were able to get her on the right path. Once she started feeling healthier, I think because she’s had me as a role model, which means ‘share your stories, don’t feel shame in this.’ I remember one of my cast members was talking about her and she said, ‘well, I don’t want to air their dirty laundry,’ speaking about Rowan’s mental health. And I’m saying, ‘that’s not our dirty laundry, that’s our life. We are so not ashamed of this stuff. You might call it that, but we don’t.’ So once Rowan kind of got to a healthier place because she’s seen what I’ve done which is saying, ‘I’m going to share this. I’m going to help people.’ So she’s been sharing her stories as much as she can on having BPD and how it’s affected her and what you can do, and I’m so proud of her… and having ED, too, because she still struggles with eating disorder issues, anorexia, and body dysmorphia. I think it’s the same sort of the double-edged sword, which is sharing your stories, you help others, and then others can help you. So I’m a big believer in getting rid of the stigma and the shame around alcoholism, and mental health issues. This is how we heal, this is how we bond. No one is okay right now. No one came out of 2020, saying, “Yeah, I’m doing great!” Especially the younger generation. I mean, you guys were… I have so much respect for the younger generations because you guys were fucked. You know? And so I’m really proud of her, I’m really proud of the work she’s doing. She’s moved out in the past year, and our relationship is the best it’s ever been.

Happy: That’s very nice to know. I know that as a person who has had my own struggles with an eating disorder, I am so touched and think it’s so special that she’s being so open about it because I know firsthand that’s not easy.

Braunwyn: Yeah, I’m proud of her. I’m really proud of her.

Happy: It’s really great. So your husband, Sean, seemed so great on our RHOC and really seemed to have a sense of acceptance and love with and for you. How did he react when you came out at first?

Braunwyn: Obviously, I’ve slept with women our whole relationship. So it wasn’t a big revelation to him. He knew I was more attracted to women. I’ve never hidden this from him. So I think for him, the hardest part, and it’s come gradually. It’s saying, “Okay, you’re going to date women.” He said, “Okay, I can handle that too. We’ll have an open marriage.” I think for him, it was harder when it went from me dating, to me falling in love with someone. So I don’t think it was really an issue. I think he was fine. We’ll keep our marriage together. We’ll keep our family intact. We’ll both date other people. But at the end of the day, when we’re 80 years old, we’ll sit on our front porch with our great-grandkids, and that was the plan. Then I met Victoria, and I think that was hard. I’ll never forget when I told him “I’m falling in love with her”, and he just said, “Oh.”

Happy: Wow.

Braunwyn: I don’t think he anticipated that. In all honesty, I didn’t either. I really just wanted to have a hoe phase.

Happy: Don’t we all?

Braunwyn: I had been in a relationship for 26 years, I’m just going to date as many hot girls as possible. Then I met her, and within two days of meeting Vic, I called everyone else I was dating, and I was saying, “Hey, we can be friends, but I met someone, and I met someone where I don’t want to date anyone else.” My connection with her was pretty instant.

Happy: Wow. That’s so rare. I think to just find someone when it’s, the least likely to find someone in COVID and everything. That’s really special.

Braunwyn: Yeah, neither one of us… She had just gone out of a long-term relationship too. I think we both thought it would be a one or two-night stand… and here we are.

Happy: I know you’re so happy about that. I’m so glad that you have this! So you have been very open about your sobriety, and I read that you have two years of sobriety. Congrats!

Braunwyn: Thank you.

Happy: That is so incredible. So what has your sobriety journey been and what advice do you have for people that are trying or want to get sober?

Braunwyn: So keep in mind, I’ve been sober two years in January, so a little over two years. But this is my third time getting sober. So I think my sobriety journey has, even now, in the past two years, there’s been really high highs and really low lows. And I think for me, working in a program has really helped this time. And not just going… because I’ve worked in a program before, but I didn’t fully surrender. For me, it was walking in and saying, “Okay, I got nothing. I’ve tried everything, but my way doesn’t work. I’m turning it over to you.” That, for me, is hard. I’m a control freak. I think “one day at a time” is not just a cute saying. It really is how I have to live my life. Because if I were to say I’m never going to drink again, that’s a long time. Forever is a long time. So you know what? I cannot drink today. Okay. I still get to have moments where I’m saying, “God, I want to drink.” I mean, it doesn’t get easier. That’s not true. It does get easier! Those first few months are just really hard. But, there’s always going to be times where I think to myself, ‘God, a drink would be nice.’ But I have the skills now, to go, ‘okay, but not today.’ Not today. That has gotten me 800 days. So if you are considering not drinking, if you’re sober curious, if alcohol is something that’s not working for you anymore, I think my best piece of advice would be, don’t wait. Don’t wait till the next party. Don’t wait till after summer. There’s always an excuse, just don’t drink today and see how you feel. Then the next day wake up, and say, ‘I’m not going to drink today.’ Forever is a long time. One day we can all do. We can all do one day. I do want to preface this with: if you are drinking a lot, if you are an everyday drinker, go get professional help because you can die from detoxing on your own.

Happy: Thank you for saying that. I know that so many people watching or reading this interview will appreciate your candor. Also, I think that for you to even do this interview and be willing to talk about this is so honorable. So thank you.

Braunwyn: For me, it’s just giving back and being of service, that really is what being a human, to me, is all about. Human connection, getting to know people, sharing our stories.

Happy: You have a new girlfriend, Victoria Brito, with whom you’ve said that you are grateful to have a second chance at life. What is it about Victoria that you feel sets her apart from people you have been with before?

Braunwyn: Good question, I don’t even know the answer. I think you just know when you meet someone, there’s something that you can’t describe because I can say she’s beautiful, she’s funny. She has this little winky face where I’m saying “butter!” but she’s fun, and we get to do all these great things together. I can put it into words, but at the end of the day, what it is is the minute I met her… because we met at Jane’s Carousel, and the minute I met her, I just felt something. Like ‘wow, there she is.’ It was as if my heart had found its home. That’s something I can’t put into words. It’s just her very essence, and I’ve never felt that before.

Happy: That’s incredible. What did Victoria just say?

Braunwyn: She said, “I’ve never heard you say that before!”

Happy: That is an amazing thing to say. I’m so overjoyed that you are feeling this way. So you have been, and you continue to be super transparent about yourself and your life. What is it that keeps you motivated to keep being honest about your life, regardless of what people might feel or say?

Braunwyn: Whether it’s helping moms who are going through a separation, whether it’s helping people get sober or loved ones that need to be sober, helping with mental health issues, or if you’re coming out. I recently was at an event, the psychologist came up to me and she said, “I just want to say thank you because so many of my patients when they are coming out now, say it was because of you.” She came to this event just to say to me, “Thank you, you were inspiring so many women to come out.” I said, “Wow.” So I think when you start hearing those stories or when people come up to me and say, “Hey, you saved my life, I got sober because of you.” How could you not keep sharing your stories? Human connection is the point. To be even a small part in anyone’s recovery or anyone’s coming out or anyone getting help for mental health issues, that’s everything to me. That’s everything.

Happy: That is very powerful. Congrats, honestly, for everything that you’re doing. So what is next for Braunwyn Windham-Burke?

Braunwyn: I have a lot of things going on right now, so I’ve been working on a couple of projects that I still can’t talk about. This whole ‘world’ takes way longer than I ever anticipated. So, hopefully, I’ll be back on TV soon. We’ve been working on those for, I would say about eight months now, and that’s been going great. I’m writing my book.

Happy: I’m so excited about this.

Braunwyn: I just want to clarify that I’m not doing that. I am working with someone and we’re putting it together because there’s so much of the story before and after that just isn’t there. It’s a great idea, too, because my kids have a chapter, Sean has a chapter, and my mom does. Even my PR person who’s my ride or die, I told her, ‘I need you to be in here, too,’ because I believe that my story sometimes differs from everyone else’s. We all have our side. Then the truth. I’ve been doing a lot more motivational speaking, which I love, going around the country and helping people get sober, stay sober, and raising money for sobriety. I’m still in New York and California doing the bicoastal thing. So for me, it’s just been great. Kind of when I was let go from the show… it was just my pivoting. Thinking ‘what’s important to you?’ and that was such an easy one. I want to inspire people to live their authentic selves and to love themselves in the best way possible. So basically everything in that world. I’m lucky. I’m lucky that things are kind of just happening at the right time.

Happy: You are definitely inspiring people. Congrats on everything you have coming up. You are a very inspiring person.


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