Is a Christian part of the Real Housewives of Orange County?
Turns out reality star Alexis Bellino is one. Here’s what she had to say about the tension between her faith and her career.
A few of the more dramatic reality shows, such as Jersey Shore, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and The Real Housewives franchise, challenge our sense of what’s right and what’s real. Often defended as merely fun and entertaining, we’re told that behind the camera is a less dramatic and even mundane existence for cast members. After all, the relationships on camera are mostly artificial, created through network contracts and celebrity events—which, ironically, undermine the notion of “reality” TV. While the relationships may not be entirely natural, I remain unconvinced that the personalities are contrived. What we see is likely a version of the real self exaggerated only by the compression of time in editing.
People who don’t watch the Real Housewives shows often wonder about my particular interest. Typically, the “housewives” are portrayed as socialites constantly on the go: attending parties, taking vacations together, and, of course, arguing a lot. It’s not those things that have piqued my curiosity, however. Though the shows don’t represent the life of the average housewife, these women do shine a light on the very human and shared problem of sin.
While watching, I search for glimpses of God and a sense that they understand their cars, jewelry, bodies, and even families are insufficient to give life true meaning. Recently I’ve been intrigued to learn that a “Housewife” who professes to be an evangelical Christian is part of The Real Housewives of Orange County (RHOC) cast. On her blog, she responds to the charge of “contradictory behavior” for choosing plastic surgery while professing faith in Christ.
I wanted to know more about her and her beliefs. So when Kyria.com gave me the green light to interview her, I couldn’t resist. Here’s what I learned about Alexis Bellino, who’s been with RHOC since season 5 (season 7 airs Tuesdays on Bravo).
Sarah: When did you become a Christian?
Alexis: I fell in love with the Lord at a young age. My mother had my brother and me in church from as young as I can remember. Growing up I remember asking my tired, over-worked mom to take us to church on Sundays. I’d be disappointed on the Sundays she’d say no. Though I never really had a “home” church, we attended a Lutheran church for most of my childhood. I was confirmed at age 12. Then I attended a Catholic church for a few years during high school. In college, I began attending a non-denominational church. I've always had the Lord in my heart, but I actually accepted him as my Savior seven years ago.
How has your life changed since becoming a Christian?
Alexis: My life has never been the same. I now feel complete. I feel a peace that I’ve never had. Somehow, no matter how tough times get, or what is thrown my way, I always have the strength and courage to make it through. I feel Jesus beside me the entire way.
Who’s been most influential in your spiritual growth?
Alexis: My husband, Jim, has been a huge influence for me. He graduated with a theology degree, so I often find myself looking to him for the appropriate Scripture, or the guidance I need to make it through difficult situations.
Occasionally, your faith in Jesus comes up on the RHOC. Do you experience any hostility from the other wives because of your faith?
Alexis: Hostility is a strong word. Sometimes the ladies and I don’t see eye to eye, no matter what the topic. However, my Christianity is something I work to maintain through challenging times and good times.
What opportunities have you had to share your faith with other housewives?
Alexis: I’ve prayed for Vicki’s daughter, Briana, when we thought Briana was really sick. I’ve prayed for Gretchen a few times. I’ve invited Lynn and Frank to attend church with us. This season, you’ll see another housewife attend service with me.
As a Christian, how do you avoid participating in the gossip and backbiting on RHOC?
Alexis: I don’t know that I can honestly say I do. I try really hard to keep away from it, or to find ways to change subjects, or make jokes rather than gossip, but I’m human and I’m praying that I’m able steer clear of it.
Have you ever walked away from any of the housewife camera “drama” because your involvement might reflect poorly on Christ?
Alexis: Yes, there have been several times. But there are also times when I’ve been disappointed with my own behavior. I learn from those times and work hard not to let them occur a second time.
How do you see your relationship with God impacting your work life?
Alexis: God is absolutely number one in my life, as well as my family’s life. When I’m on the set, I’m constantly thinking about how I’m representing him.
How do you and your husband cultivate your children’s spiritual lives?
Alexis: Jim and I feel it’s important for our children to live around the Lord, not just experience God on Sundays. We read them Bible stories, we pray before every meal, we pray before bedtime, and they attend Christian school. We’re trying to teach them they can talk to God about anything, not just at prayer time and church.
Clearly external beauty is important to the success of the Real Housewives franchise. How do you, as a Christian, cope with the pressures of external beauty?
Alexis: Although external beauty is important, I try to live my life with this Scripture in mind, “Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.”
What is your greatest struggle?
Alexis: I have many struggles! One I’m currently working on is not being such a perfectionist. However, my biggest struggle is being a Christian and being on a reality show.
Sarah J. Flashing is a writer and speaker. She is founder of The Center for Women of Faith in Culture.