LuAnn de Lesseps is the break-out star of Bravo's hit series "Real Housewives of New York City", but that's only one facet of her life. Known to most as simply "The Countess", LuAnn is also a singer, an author, a devotee to charity, an etiquette expert, and now an actress. The busy mother of two guest stars on an upcoming episode of Law & Order: SVU entitled "Bully", playing an art patron entangled in a murder case.
Starpulse had the pleasure of participating in a conference call where The Countess describes her experience on set, the changes she's faced in recent years, and what we can expect from her in the future.
Bullying has become a very hot topic lately and will be highlighted on the show. Have you ever experienced that in some form in your life? How did you confront it?
I must say, I did get picked on at school as a teenager, which I think a lot of kids go through. I have children and I hope they would come to me if it happened to them. It's important to have a close, open relationship with your kids and understand if that's happening in their life. I had a large family so I had a lot of support from them, and the phase passed.
How did you prepare for the role?
Actually, my boyfriend helped me prepare for it - he read lines with me. The director and the writer were the ones who said "We think the Countess is perfect for this role", and I think they really saw me embodying the character. It happened very fast and I basically got my lines two days before I shot. So it was challenging, but it was really great.
What was it like working with the cast of SVU?
They were great! The actors are such pros and they've been at it for a long time. They were very helpful and very supportive of me, so it was a very positive experience. I got into it. But it's kind of scary having to say your lines standing in front of Mariska Hargitay! She's an amazing, powerful woman.
You will be semi-nude in the episode. Did you have any qualms about doing that?
Well, it's semi-nude so I felt comfortable, because I was covered and it was tasteful. I didn't have a problem with that part. The problem is saying the lines and keeping yourself covered and being in the right place at the right time! It was a fun, challenging experience for me.
Did any of the Housewives visit you on set?
No, none of the women came to see me on set.
What's the most important piece of advice that people should take away from your book, Class with the Countess?
Beauty, class and elegance lie within the soul. It's about confidence, respect, class and charisma - all of those things are so important and I think they're forgotten about today. Also, the pleases and thank you's get you a long, long way.
You've been through so much recently, and we've all seen it on TV. Can you tell us how the past couple of years have changed you?
When I started the show, it wasn't even The Real Housewives. It was supposed to be called "Manhattan Moms". Little did I know that it could become such a huge success. I never thought I would write a book about my life, manner and etiquette. It's so autobiographical, about my journey and my experience and what I've learned along the way. Being able to sing and record, and now act... To think I would be on Law & order, I would have said 'no way' before! I've been very lucky and I just have a second chance, and SVU is part of that second chance, and it's very exciting.
What is the reaction from people who meet you on the street that have seen you on TV?
It's so positive and wonderful, you know. Fans will ask "Won't you come to my children's school and teach them manners?" I love the fans, that's what it's all about for me.
Would you say you've caught the acting bug?
Oh, for sure. I would love to go on 30 Rock. So you can put the word out there, okay? I'm saying it. Tina Fey, call me!
Countess LuAnn's episode, "Bully" will air Wednesday, February 23rd, 10:00 PM EST on NBC.
Season Four of Bravo's "The Real Housewives of New York City" premiered February 15th, 2011.