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6 women to know: The stories behind Vancouver's Real Housewives

Why they chose to be on the high-stakes, high-drama show not one season, but two

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RONNIE NEGUS: Despite feeling she was portrayed unfairly in season one as a sometimes mean-spirited alcoholic, and despite the grave illness of her daughter Remington, Ronnie Negus is back for another season. And she has something to prove: She is not the way she was portrayed on season one. “The first five or six episodes were really bad for me. I was losing sleep,” she says. Friends urged her not to quit. “And I said you know what? Anything’s better than last year. I need the viewers to see a more honest Ronnie.” Negus, who is married with four children and a stepdaughter, lives on an oceanfront estate in West Vancouver, and also owns a vineyard in Napa. “I helped with their wealth component,” she says of the show.

Jeff Vinnick/The Globe and Mail

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JODY CLAMAN: When last we saw Jody Claman in the season one finale, she was headed home in the back of a limo from what had to be the worst lunch of her life. All of the other Housewives had turned against her. “It was shocking,” said Claman, 49. “I was sick for three weeks. It bothered me immensely. But the strong survive. And I’m very blessed.” Claman has a million things on the go: a cookbook to be launched, another TV property, a new beverage product, a jewellery line. Unquestionably season one’s villain, she feels she was misrepresented, and misunderstood. “I’m on a mission,” she says. “And I will shine through. I will let people see really who I am.”

Jeff Vinnick/The Globe and Mail

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AMANDA HANSEN: Early in the first episode of the second season, we learn from newcomer Amanda Hansen that she likes to look like she’s starving, and that she’s addicted to sex. Hansen, a divorced mother of three children now aged 6 to 11, says those sentences were cut off in editing. “I say something like, ‘I like to look like I’m starving – when I eat like a pig,’ ” says Hansen, who is 33 when the season begins. After saying she was a sex addict, she recalls saying, “ha, ha, ha” – which apparently wound up on the cutting room floor. But life seems pretty good. “I don’t really have a lot of stress,” she confides in the first episode. “I get irritated if my latte’s gross.”

Jeff Vinnick/The Globe and Mail

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ROBIN REICHMAN: She’s from Texas, she’s been through a nasty divorce, she has two daughters and she’s a Christian. Robin Reichman, 46, moved to Vancouver some 20 years ago. She lives in tony Point Grey and keeps her horse in the also tony Southlands. Reichman is clearly damaged from a traumatic split with her husband, which is why she decided to join the show. “As crazy as I thought my life and the curve ball that I was given, after doing this show, I have a really normal life, compared to these other women. … Maybe that was the message: ‘Robin, your life is not that bad. Look at what you just experienced.’ These other women … I’d rather be dead than live their lives.”

Jeff Vinnick/The Globe and Mail

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IOULIA REYNOLDS: At 27, Ioulia (pronounced YOO-lee-ya) Reynolds is the youngest Housewife – she’s 26 when the season begins – and also provides some European content. Her family moved from Dubna, just outside Moscow, to Vancouver about 11 years ago. Reynolds says she studied the art business at Sotheby’s in London, and studied to be a stockbroker in New York. In Vancouver, where she’s married to a 44-year-old venture capitalist, she works as an art consultant but she’s got her sights set on a number of other projects. Why join the show, after witnessing the high level of drama and antics in season one? It looked like fun, she says. And it was. “I’m grateful. I’m blessed, because this is something that doesn’t happen to a lot of people.”

Jeff Vinnick/The Globe and Mail

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MARY ZILBA: On season one, Mary Zilba clashed with Jody Claman and her old friend Ronnie Negus. If anything, things between Zilba and Negus appear to have deteriorated further since. “Ronnie and I have definitely separated due to this show,” said Zilba, a divorced mother of three teenaged boys. “She finds fault with just about everything that I do.” A former Ohio beauty queen, Zilba revived her largely forgotten music career with the Real Housewives platform. She refuses to stoop, she says, to the mean-girl tactics of her other castmates. “That behaviour’s embarrassing. And that’s not who I am,” says Zilba. “My God, I’ve been on this planet for 40 some odd years and I’m not going to let this show deteriorate who I am.”

Jeff Vinnick/The Globe and Mail

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