This is a reposting of my original I Am That Girl profile on author, chef, reality star (and now wife and mother), Bethenny Frankel. The interview was conducted in Los Angeles in March of 2009 to promote her then new-book "Naturally Thin." Well, the book has since become a best-seller; Frankel is now known as Bethenny Hoppy to her friends; and she has left the Real Housewives franchise for her own spin-off. In honor of Bethenny Ever After premiering tonight, I am offering this interview again because though the situation surrounding our brief sit-down was very specific, her words of wisdom were timeless!
“You make a plan and God laughs,” Bethenny Frankel starts as I grab a few minutes with her at her Santa Monica book signing for “Naturally Thin.” “It doesn’t matter what your plan is as long as you’re going forward. My dreams are bigger than I could ever imagine, but they’re coming true now.”
As a little girl, Frankel probably never dreamed of being a best-selling author, a national spokesperson, or on a hit reality television show. She admits that none of this was ever something she could have imagined, but she rolled with everything, and it has taken her to great heights. “You don’t have to know what you want for the big picture but know what you want for that moment,” Frankel advises. “I’m thirty-eight years old and I’m…still figuring it out.”
As a single woman and entrepreneur, Frankel seems to be the opposite of what a show with the word “housewife” in the title would want. In fact, everyone from her publicist to her friends told her not to go on such a show, but it had the Bravo name behind it, and she knew she wanted to build a brand, so Frankel went for it anyway. “I know myself and how bad could it be if you’re honest?” She explains her reasoning. “You don’t see anything on Housewives-- or any other reality show-- that isn’t true. They can’t put it together if it didn’t happen!”
Frankel is wickedly smart and fiercely independent, embodying the fearless “go-getter” attitude that is necessary to succeed in business, let alone the entertainment business. She has never relied on her name or any man to pave (or pay) her way, though. “I was engaged three times, and they were rich, and they were gorgeous, and they lived for me. My friends were telling me ‘what the hell is wrong with you; you broke up with them?’…[but] I would not sell out. You can’t do anything that isn’t going to make you happy.”
Frankel credits a strong work ethic, but it is also her ability to “think outside the box” and always put herself first that has made her a success. “Check yourself before you wreck yourself,” Frankel smiles when discussing the message she hopes young women take away from her book. “You can have fried chicken; you can have a margarita; you can have something when you’re PMSing. Just do not say ‘today I was bad and tomorrow I’ll be good’ because there is no bad and there is no good. Food is not your best friend or your enemy; it is just food. Be able to walk away from it.”
Frankel is strong and self-sufficient in many ways, but her greatest is in knowing that throughout everything, you have to “figure out what you want and be true to it. The only thing that’s ever done me any good is my gut instinct.”