Erika Jayne Has No Regrets


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From ostracized antagonist to adored underdog, Erika Jayne’s redemption arc is a testament to the reality TV turn tables. And she’s just getting started.

Erika Jayne takes umbrage with the “villain” label. But after becoming one of the most infamous names in the history of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (RHOBH), it’s impossible to deny her characterization as such. Besides, at this point, is it even entirely an insult?

You see, a Real Housewives villain is not simply an annoyance who stirs up drama. In a franchise predicated on messiness, flamboyant fights, and the often out-of-touch opinions of America’s elite, the bad guy is arguably the most important member. Forget being “good” — if you can guarantee glamour and a gripping storyline, you’re Housewives gold. Erika Jayne, it seems, gets this.

“Are we playing to get along? Or are we playing for how we really feel?” she asks me rhetorically over Zoom. “Because if you’re playing for audience acceptance, or if you’re playing to be liked, then you’re not being authentic.” After all, she’s been around long enough to know.

Erika Jayne Las Vegas
Photography courtesy of Hayu

Credited for raising the bar on Housewives glam, Jayne entered the Bravoverse in 2015 with an over-the-top appearance and a new money playbook. Then married to prominent Beverly Hills lawyer Tom Girardi (who is 33 years her senior), she had a biting bombshell image, a private jet at her disposal and her very own pop anthem — “XXpen$ive” — which further broadcasted her tax bracket.

When Girardi, now 84 years old, was accused of stealing millions from clients in 2019 and subsequently disbarred, things took a turn. Throughout his illustrious career, the litigator had allegedly defrauded burn victims, plane crash survivors and orphans — and Jayne’s loud luxury lifestyle, funded by her now ex-husband, was suddenly shrouded with a sinister shadow.

On the show, she was jarringly unapologetic about the whole thing, claiming she, too, was a victim of Girardi’s deception — even if she benefitted from it. “I don’t give a f*ck about anybody else but me,” she said in a now-viral clip in season 12, in response to cast-mates asking her about the victims. “We’re not even sure that there were people that weren’t paid,” she commented in another jaw-dropping moment, questioning the validity of the case’s claims.

In the Bravo editing suite, her cruelty was almost cartoonish. (Jennifer Lawrence went as far as to call her “evil” in 2022.) But Jayne, who maintains her innocence in Girardi’s wrongdoings, doesn’t view it that way.

Erika Jayne Las Vegas
Photography courtesy of Hayu

“I didn’t see myself as a villain. I saw myself as somebody who was fighting for their very life and being mischaracterized and accused of things that I did not do,” she tells me. “Having your entire life upended and taken away is very tough for anyone going through just divorce.” And in her case, she notes, it all happened on a public scale, with her being “scrutinized and picked apart every day” while dealing with the fallout of her marriage. “I was sticking up for myself.”

Her reactions didn’t exactly paint her in a positive light, but in the reality TV realm, maybe every player needs to experience a damning downfall to then thrive. “I feel that people are complex, and the more complex you are, the more interesting of a television character you would be,” she reflects. To get on Real Housewives, the obvious prerequisite might be mountains of money and a wide-ranging wardrobe, but the real must-have is outspokenness.

“You can have the husband, the kids and everything, but if you do not have a unique point of view — and if you’re not willing to share that — then you are not good on the show,” says Jayne, who is now single and living in a “little” bungalow instead of a lavish mansion. “If you feel a certain way about something, you have to have the balls to say that and stand by it, even if it’s out of favour with the majority.” Not to mention, getting cast as the villain means you have a shot at something truly priceless: a redemption arc.

Photography courtesy of Hayu

Season 13 of RHOBH has been colloquially referred to as “Erika’s Season.” Her tagline is: “The best part about losing everything is getting it all back.” She’s taken on a level-headed outlook, delivering fan-favourite quippy commentary in her confessionals. Most memorably, during a cast trip to Spain, a tipsy Erika Jayne impresses her peers more than ever with an unexpected wealth of history knowledge. On a whole, the season is a testament to the perks of rebuilding yourself from the ground up. As she tells me, being routinely underestimated is “a great place to be” because you get to surprise people. “You never have to overcompensate.”

Now, she’s been granted the greatest rebranding reward of all: her own show. Bet It All On Blonde is a two-hour documentary special that began streaming on Hayu on March 6, chronicling the lead-up to the Erika Jayne Las Vegas residency. For the 52-year-old star, this was more than just another reality TV filming experience.

Photography courtesy of Hayu

“I was not put into situations where I was reacting with others or expected to talk about topics that I was not present for — which is what happens in Housewives. In this case, this was my real life, talking about putting a show together — 80 minutes, 20 songs — and the run-up to Las Vegas in a compressed amount of time,” Erika Jayne explains. “It was a completely personal thing for me.”

The excitement of her rekindled music career and recent Las Vegas residency aside, Erika Jayne is on the up and up in other ways. Does she still believe in love? “Sure,” she says coolly. “I think one of the greatest gifts that I walked out from my divorce with is that I’m not bitter. I don’t hate men… I am just someone that went through a very bad experience, and [I’m] moving on from that.”

When asked if she wishes she’d done anything differently in recent years, Jayne is just as firm. “I don’t have any regrets,” she says. “I wish that I wasn’t as reactive as I became. And I think that had I been able to just have a little bit more latitude, I wouldn’t have been as angry as I was.” Starting to sound slightly wistful, she refocuses.

“But at the same time, I was very angry… I am a human being. So, you got to see a very personal part of my life play out on the show. Lots of people do not allow that to happen.”

That kind of exposure is exactly why she’s still here. Good or bad, reality TV is a complicated game — and Erika Jayne is a star player.

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