Vienna Girardi knows what it really means to be famous. After winning season fourteen of ABC's The Bachelor, she had a messy split with Jake Pavelka that labeled her a reality TV "bad girl." Now she - and her ex, not to mention her new boyfriend - are back for the second season of the Bachelor spin-off series Bachelor Pad. Before tonight's new episode (8 PM ET/PT), Vienna dropped in for a chat about love, the rest of her life, and what it's like to be judged in the public eye.
After everything that you went through on The Bachelor and afterward, why come back? Why put yourself out there like this again?
Honestly, the main reason is my boyfriend [Kasey Kahl]. I had originally told them no, and then they asked us to go on as a couple. We didn't know Jake [Pavelka] was going to be on the show, so we were like "Why not? We'll go on there, we'll have fun, it'll be a three-week paid vacation." That's not at all what it turned out to be.
Your previous reality TV experience really painted you in a difficult light. What's that like for you to deal with in your daily life? How much does what we read and hear really affect you as an individual?
It really does affect me a lot. People really have no idea how I am. I was portrayed as this stuck-up rich girl and that's not me at all. I grew up in a town of 2,900 people in a double-wide trailer. It's hard for me to think the world thinks I'm somebody that I'm not. It's very difficult. Honestly, probably about five percent of what you read is actually true.
What's the biggest misconception about you that you'd like to clear up?
That's it. I'm actually very good friends with people on the show. People don't get that it is a TV show. We don't all hate each other at all. Me personally, I was perceived as this rich girl and that was just a character created by the show. I would love people to come back to my hometown and see who I really am. I have the most loving, amazing family back home and no one's ever known anything about my real life.
The promos for Bachelor Pad hyped up the antagonism between you and Jake. How much of that was real, and how much of it was engineered for television?
Any upsetting fight, or crying, it's not happening for two hours straight. It happens for like thirty seconds. It was not that bad. I forgave him the first episode and somehow they've made it look like - they show the same things over and over again. Like I'm holding a knife, I'm cooking, and you're going to make it something.
Do you embrace the antagonistic role on the show? Or how do you approach it?
To be the antagonist, you have to be the one that's starting everything. And if people watch, I avoid him. He comes to me. He comes and asks me if I'll talk to him. I never start anything. I just wish people would actually see the show for what it really is and not be fooled by what they think they're seeing or hearing.
What have you taken away personally from the whole reality TV experience?
During filming, it is a blast. It really is fun to film the show. I gained so many good friends - Michelle, Erica, Melissa, Holly - and we had great experiences. Getting off the show and watching it, not so great an experience. People don't realize, we show our emotions, we're just on TV doing it. Just enjoy the show. Don't get upset.
Let's talk about outside of the show. Who are you when the cameras aren't rolling? What are some of your outside interests?
I love to cook. It's my number one passion. I'm cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner. I cook everything homemade. I'm furnishing my apartment right now. Kasey and I just moved in together so that's my new project. I want to work on my own makeup and perfume line. My absolute favorite thing to do is to go back home to Florida. I miss my family like crazy.
With two reality shows behind you now, would you ever do another? If so, which one would you want to be on?
I would think about it. I'm not saying I'm not going to be on any other reality show. If the opportunity comes, I'd think about it.
What TV shows or movies would you recommend to our readers?
The only show I watch is True Blood. I haven't seen any good movies lately. People need to get off their couch and start cooking. Something fun that Kasey and I love to do is randomly go and Google a recipe, and we'll go to the grocery store, and [then] he'll just sit on the couch and laugh as I try to figure out how to cook this thing.
My thanks to Vienna for this interview! Keep up with her as an all-new Bachelor Pad airs tonight at 8 PM ET/PT on ABC.