Meet Alexis Bellino. The 32-year-old socialite joins the ranks of the heavily bronzed ladies of "The Real Housewives of Orange County." And she's actually a housewife! Alexis is a stay-at-home mom to three children and lives in Newport Beach with her husband, Jim Bellino, a self-made entrepreneur. Originally from the small town of Hannibul, Mont., Alexis will officially earn her rite of passage tonight when she has her first housewife showdown with ... Vicki, naturally. Can't wait until tonight for a dose of drama in your Housewives diet? You've come to the right place. I managed to snag a few minutes over the phone with Alexis. Here's what she has to say about being the newest housewife, how "real" the show is, and just how awkward that dinner scene was with Tamra and Simon.
Give 'Housewives' fans a quick bio.
I’m a stay-at-home mom of three. Very happily married. We’re a Christian family who just tries to live closer to God and do things the right way … but we’re people, and we make mistakes. And I like to work out a lot.
What’s it like to be the newest housewife?
It’s been such an amazing experience. There’s no other word to describe it because the opportunities that have come about and just the chance to be with these four girls that I felt like I knew before because we watched the show so much. It’s just been really a dream. I felt like I already knew Tamra and Gretchen and Vicki and Lynne because I watched it last season. I watched the reruns … and I watched it again. So it felt like we were old friends.
It seems like everyone seems to know everyone in these circles. Had you seen the Housewives out at any events in Orange County?
Gretchen and I have a mutual friend. I’d actually only met her twice before joining the show. Jeana and my husband had done a couple of business deals together; so I knew her from that and I saw her out as well.
Were you one of the dozens of Housewives-in-training who flocked to South Coast Plaza to audition?
I wasn’t. We met Jeana for dinner one night, and she was like "How are you guys? I hope you don’t mind. I turned in your name to producers. They’re casting now for this season. You’re probably going to get a call tomorrow." And sure enough, I got a call the next morning.
You mentioned you were a viewer of the series. What did you like about it, and why did you decide to become part of it?
I mean … it’s comical. It’s lighthearted and fun but yet still keeps that dramatic feel. It’s sort of like renting a movie. You sort of know where the movie is going to go. It’s a movie. With this, it was just always fun to watch because you never know what road their life was going to take or what’s going to happen next. So we laughed, we felt bad for the … I just felt like I knew them. My husband and I are both very much into reality shows. It was different to no longer be the viewer.
As a viewer, who was your favorite Housewife?
I don’t really know if I had a favorite at the time. I mean, I like Gretchen because we had seen each other a couple of times, and she was fun. But I don’t think I necessarily had a favorite. I was just a fan of the show in general.
So you‘re not quite part of the gated community of Coto de Caza. But how long have you lived in Orange County?
I’ve lived here for about five or six years.
What’s it been like interacting with the ladies?
It’s really crazy. But they definitely are like what you see on TV pretty much. We filmed from June through September. It’s reality. It’s true. I think that … what makes reality so interesting is that it takes that certain characteristic someone has in their life and it plays on that for the whole season and so you really do see … I mean, what you see is what you get. When you’re out hanging out with them — we take trips together, we go to dinner together — It’s the same kind of person you see that’s represented in the show.
Touching on that … in previews for tonight’s episode we see that you and Vicki don’t really click. What’s the dynamic there?
You know what’s really strange about Vicki and my relationship — or what I can say on my behalf — is that I like her. I really like her. I think she’s a passionate, hard-working admirable person because she has a drive to succeed, and it’s just unfortunate that we butted heads. But I think we were both ladies. We said our peace, and we get along when we all get together. We may not call each other and say, "Hey, how are you?"— we don’t have that kind of a friendship. But we get along. And we might butt heads again … but that’s just the way the world works.
In last week’s episode, we see you having dinner with Tamra and Simon —
Jim bought a car from Simon, and so we kind of knew each other through that and we met for dinner. We clicked. Tamra has a 3-year-old, and she has other children too. Tamra’s just such a fun, outgoing … just funny person.
But what about the bickering between Tamra and Simon? Didn’t it make you feel a little uncomfortable?
Well, you only saw about one minute of a two-hour dinner. We didn’t stop laughing that entire dinner. My stomach — we went home and my stomach hurt because we were just taking and laughing so hard that entire dinner. At that one point, it did get a little bit serious. I think it was just them being sarcastic and joking with each other. But you know, when you joke, there’s always a bit of truth in it. The cameras played it up, and that’s just the way it was for that split second. But none of us went home thinking, "Oh my gosh, I can’t believe that happened with Simon and Tamra." Or "Alexis is such a crazy woman for buttering her husband’s bread." It wasn’t like that.
Do you still interact with the ladies now that you’re no longer shooting?
Yes. Gretchen and Tamra, I have to honestly say, are dear friends of mine. We do call each other even when we’re not filming — we don’t all three get together, of course.
So what sets you apart from the other Housewives?
I think my traditional marriage. My Christian values. I talk about God almost every day of my life. I don’t think there’s a day that goes by that I don’t mention him or bring him up in a conversation or say things about Jesus. And then, just the fact that I stay at home and spend a lot of time with my kids, which Tamra does too.
And what do you hope to get out of the show?
I just want to tell my story. I just want people to see that you can be a mom that stays at home, who cooks meals and goes to the grocery store and runs her kids to class yet you can still take care of yourself and put your God and your marriage first, because if either of those two start to fail then your kids are gonna be from a broken home.
Did you have any reservations about exposing your life for all to see?
There really wasn’t. I don’t feel like I have anything to hide. I didn’t have any reservations. If people find it funny or find that they relate to me, then that’s awesome.
Word association time. Describe your fellow Housewives in one word.
(laughs) Oh, my gosh. What is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Jeana? Nice, I guess. I don’t know.
Do you still keep in contact with Jeana?
I don’t know what happened with our friendship, but we don’t talk that much.
-- Yvonne Villarreal
Photo: Alexis Bellino. Credit: Bravo.