‘What Can I Not Handle at This Point': Ariana Madix on That Affair

‘What Can I Not Handle at This Point': Ariana Madix on That Affair

The Bravo reality show 'Vanderpump Rules,' after a few rocky years, seems to be given a fresh lease of life.

In the past two months, it was revealed that Tom Sandoval cheated with Ariana Madix, who has been his girlfriend for nearly a decade. He did this with Raquel Leviss, another cast member and friend. In recent years, the show's popularity has declined. With this new twist it's not a question if there will ever be a 11. It's more a matter of how it will look.

The show, which follows the drama of the people who worked at and currently work at the West Hollywood SUR restaurant, owned by Lisa Vanderpump - a breakout star of another Bravo reality series 'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,' - has had its fair share of controversy, but none of them have had such a level of impact or consequence. The stakes have risen, and the cast are no longer just young adults. 'Scandoval', as the affair was called, has destroyed not only their romances but also their friendships, financial futures and their real lives. The audience's interest has also increased.

Ms. Madix is a long-time fan favorite of 'Vanderpump Rules,' thanks to her willingness to openly discuss her mental health and grief struggles. Since the affair was revealed, Madix's popularity has skyrocketed.

Her star is rising. She has signed brand deals with Bloomingdale's, Bic Razors and Lifetime, launched her own merchandise line, co-starred as a Lifetime film and attended the White House Correspondents' Association dinner. She is also opening a shop with fellow actress Katie Maloney.

Season 10 was finished in the fall of last year, but producers re-started filming after learning about the affair. In a newly edited interview, Madix speaks for the first time since months about Mr. Sandoval. She also discusses her feelings about being on reality TV.


Why do you believe the public is so interested in this scandal of cheating?

I believe that our relationship had been so long-lasting, even myself included, that it was seen as the endgame. I think that the people involved are also so deceitful and duplicitous. [Mr. Sandoval] preached about integrity and accountability all the time. I think people were shocked by his sudden change. There are many others who can also relate to my situation and put themselves in the shoes of mine.

You seem to have sacrificed your personal life for professional success. How do you deal with it?

There is a great deal of pressure on women who are in the public eye or for any woman to go through a difficult time. There are many expectations about how they should handle it. When someone places you on a pedestal, you will eventually fall. I am trying to stay centered and to be myself. Sometimes that means making mistakes or not doing what everyone wants me to. It's amazing to have such support, but I do feel that it came at a price.

What was it like to resume filming after the scandal broke?

I often feel that I am in a situation where, with our friends group or with our show I was not there when someone said something, or there was a disagreement. I don't know what I think about this kind of situation. In this case, I felt strongly. In this situation, I knew how I felt.

How was it to film the season finale of the show with your ex-partner?

I knew that he would try to sell something when he tried to do the sad sack thing [during filming]. I knew that he was acting that way so that I could be the one who was angry. I saw what was going on in front of me, and it was frustrating. When he began yelling, I was a bit relieved that he would finally be himself.

Kristen Doute was Tom's former girlfriend and she appeared with you in the final. Your friendship has grown. Why was this scene important to film? After I learned about the affair, she was at my home. At that time, I'm sure my blood was 80 per cent nicotine and rose because I was burning both ends. They had a very different relationship than mine, but I believe there are some common problems. It's amazing that their relationship ended ten years ago and yet he hasn't grown in these areas.

How was it to film a reunion?

It was a strange day, because in most reunions we talk about the entire season. In this reunion it was just everyone against one [cast member]. We've never seen us so united.


Do you believe that Tom or Raquel can be redeemed?

When they began giving trash interviews, both her TMZ interview and his Howie m Mandel interview, I believe that any chance either of them had to achieve that was lost. If they had not said or done all those terrible things, I believe that maybe one day. But I think the ultimate answer is no. The answer in our friend group is no.

Do you want to work with them on a film?

No. The show follows a group of real friends and neither one of them is in that group. So, good luck.

I have always felt a bit anxious about saying things that might upset someone, or cause them to feel bad. I still do. I feel like the worst things that could have happened to someone on this show, including the death of Charlotte, my 18-year-old dog, and the loss my grandmother. A part of me wonders, "What's the worst thing that could happen?" The worst has already happened. It feels like I can't handle anything at this point.