There are changes in the face of “The Real Housewives of Orange County” 14th season — and it’s not from Botox.
The new season, which premieres Aug. 6, will feature returning housewives Tamra Judge, Shannon Storms Beador, Kelly Dodd, Gina Kirschenheiter and Emily Simpson. Joining them will be new housewife Braunwyn Windham-Burke.
But the biggest change of all will be the absence of the “OG of the OC” Vicki Gunvalson, who will only be making appearances throughout the season as a “friend” and not one of the lead Housewives.
Emily was the new face last season and has braved to return for Season 14 The attorney, part-time party-planner, wife, stepmom and mother of three is approaching 10 years of marriage with her husband, Shane, who is studying for the California Bar in the new season.
Emily chatted with Backstage SoCal about her favorite moments in her second season, challenges she has faced being in the public eye, and the response she received after the famous Instagram post she put up for “mean-spirited, cruel and vicious jerks out there.”
What inspired you to continue as a cast member for this new season?
I believe being on this show is a journey and it really tests your strength as a woman. You have to have a strong personality, strong convictions and the ability to let things roll off your back — which let’s be honest… I struggle with this. I’ve had so many emotions being a part of RHOC from sheer elation to sheer devastation. At 43, I’ve accomplished many things so being a part of RHOC presented a new challenge to me and I love to be challenged. I also enjoy sharing my life with others, the good and the bad, and feel that many of the challenges that I face as a mother, wife, woman and professional are relatable to others.
What new challenges did you face being followed with cameras this season of RHOC?
I think the biggest challenge for me this season was thinking that certain relationships were unbreakable and solid and then learning that that isn’t always the case. Navigating through the ups and downs of friendships is very emotional for me because I invest a lot of heart and soul into them. So having those ups and downs play out on camera is difficult and emotional for me.
How do you prepare your family for a season of filming?
My children are so young (6, 4 and 4) that they really don’t need preparation other than telling them the cameras are going to be in our house again. They get excited because they really get attached to the crew. It’s difficult — at least for us — to navigate a marriage on camera, however, I really have to take a step back sometimes and focus on what really matters: my marriage and my children.
What advice do you have for those struggling with work-life balance?
I found a way to work part-time, even though I took the summer off work to be with my kids, so that I can be a professional but also have time to still be with my children. Honestly, I feel guilty when I work, and I don’t think any mom who works will ever completely get rid of the “mom guilt.” I just feel that if you are a mother and you work, the main priority is spending quality time with your kids when you are home. They really don’t care about fancy things. They just want your time. So reading a book together or playing a game together may only take one hour, but it will have a lifelong impression on them.
Can you share your favorite moment in this upcoming season?
While we were in Key West, Gina and I rode jet skis at full throttle across the ocean. The day was a perfect day and the view of the ocean and blue skies was amazing. We rode for hours and I remember thinking that this feeling of complete freedom and joy and the high of going so fast over the waves was one of the best moments I’ve ever experienced.
Which Housewives do you stay in touch with outside of filming?
Gina and Kelly.
Your Instagram post on July 18 was a statement to those who have posted negative comments about your body. What did you experience after posting those photos?
Actually that post received way more positive attention than I ever imagined. I posted it without much thought. It was a quick reaction to reading so many comments that I was “photoshopped” because I looked thin in the promo picture that was leaked. It bothered me because I remember feeling really good about myself that day. I had definitely gained some weight going into this season due to combating serious pain from arthritis, but I remember feeling pretty and sexy that day and I didn’t want anyone to take that away. That’s why I posted my iPhone photos from that day because I did look exactly like the promo picture. I actually received two direct messages from people apologizing for their mean comments. That made that post worth it for me because maybe it caused those people and a few more to think before they publicly shame someone on social media.
What does it mean to you to be an influential woman in OC?
For me, it means I try each day to be better than I was the day before. I do as much charity work as I can: I work with the American Heart Association on the social committee, I work with the Illumination Foundation and I also do a charity Friendsgiving each November. I do my best to raise intelligent, kind and well-rounded children and I surround myself with a great group of girlfriends. We celebrate one another’s accomplishments and support one another through all of life’s challenges.
What do you want people to know about the real Emily Simpson?
That I love to dance and that I’m really fun!
Catch the new season of “The Real Housewives of Orange County” premiering Tuesday, August 6 at 9pm ET/PT on Bravo.