For fans of “The Real Housewives of Dallas,” another popular show in Bravo’s “Real Housewives” franchise, cast member Stephanie Hollman brings to the screen each week not only a bit of comic relief, but a wholesome, girl-next-door persona. A wife, mother, philanthropist, fashion blogger, and former social worker, Hollman’s keeping it real by being herself and never losing sight of who that is. “You’re always going to get that love/hate feeling from people,” she says. “You just have to be honest about your life and who you are–the audience can tell when you’re not being authentic.”
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Hailing from a small town in Oklahoma, Hollman’s big move to Texas 10 years ago came as a big adjustment. After getting engaged to her husband Travis, she picked up roots and settled in an even larger city, admitting it wasn’t easy at first. “It was hard,” says the country girl at heart. “Dallas is a fast-paced city and everyone seemed so put together and more glamorous than what I was used to. Where I’m from is very relaxed, but I made some good friends and they helped make the transition feel a bit more like home.”
Fast forward a few years and Hollman is happily raising two young boys while juggling her time on the hit Bravo show. She and her husband are also deeply committed to giving back to their community. “Most of our efforts are focused on women and children,” says Hollman. “It goes back to my days as a social worker, before we were married.”
BELLA NYC had the opportunity to talk with Hollman, whose girl-next-door charm won us over at “Hello…”
What about Dallas do you love most?
That fast pace that scared me at first turned out to be one of the things I love about Dallas—there are abundant options for dining out and so many things to do like the museums, parks, and aquariums. I’ve realized it’s a great place to raise a family and has become even better since having kids.
I also love the southern hospitality—the people here go out of their way to help you. Plus, I’m only four hours away from my hometown; I take my children there so they get the best of both worlds.
How did the whole experience with the show transpire?
I’ve always been a fan of the “Housewives” franchise, and when one of my girlfriends was asked to be a part of it, she also suggested me and Brandi (Redmond) to the casting agent. At first we thought it was a joke, that nothing would come of it, so we went into it just being goofy, and maybe a little “too much” ourselves. But ultimately I think that’s what they liked, that we weren’t trying to be something we weren’t; we were authentic.
What was your husband Travis’ reaction when you told him?
He was extremely supportive! He’s done some projects in the industry as well so he knows the good and the bad. His advice to me was, “If you don’t give it a shot, you’ll never know, and if you wind up not enjoying it, we can always back away.”
You’ve said that this show has been one of the best things to happen to your marriage—why is that?
If you do any type of show like this one, you get a glimpse into what other people are seeing–your marriage, your friendships, how you parent—and you can learn a lot. At first I was scared it would hurt our marriage, but we were in therapy the entire time we were filming, and still are. I think it’s important to work on things before they develop into something bigger, and for us, it made our marriage stronger. It can be easy to lose focus on what’s important, but in reality these shows are just a small facet of your life.
How has your life changed since the show first began?
The biggest adjustment for me was learning how to balance my family and social media. There was a point in the first season where I felt like it was starting to take over my life. You have to be present on social media and it seemed like I was connecting more with my fans than my family. I felt like I had to respond to everyone who wrote me and I had to make sure not to choose that over spending time with my husband and children.
Before joining RHOD you’ve said you never experienced this type of drama; do you have any regrets about joining the show?
I don’t have any regrets; it’s been a blessing in my life. I’ve learned about myself, and am doing something for me that is fun. In looking back at season one, I do wish I had a stronger voice–I was such a people-pleaser and I didn’t say things I needed to in fear of hurting someone else’s feelings. This year I’m hoping to be more authentic, stand up for myself more, and have a thicker skin. I think it’s important to say how you feel.
Before marriage and kids, you worked as a social worker. How have you parlayed that experience into the work you do today?
I worked at Head Start, an organization that promotes school readiness to children under 5 years old from low-income families. It is a wonderful organization, and I loved working with both the kids and their parents. At night I worked at Madonna House, a pregnancy shelter for unwed and homeless mothers. It was another amazing experience and I loved both places for different reasons.
I started to miss my work after we got married, and I asked my husband if we could do something through his company, Hollman, Inc. Now I have a budget and allocate where our funds and our time will be focused. We work with organizations such as The Family Place, the largest domestic violence agency in Texas, as well as Big Brothers Big Sisters. I’ve been a Big Sister to the same little girl for almost 10 years–she was just accepted to college. These two organizations are my babies.
At BELLA our tagline is “Beauty As Defined By You.” How do you define beauty?
For me, beauty is being authentic to who you are. Seeing my children play, helping others, concentrating on my marriage, being happy with who I am, and not expecting this idea of perfection… that, to me, is beauty. In a society where we are judged by the way we look, I want my children to know that it’s alright not to be perfect, because that idea so many people have of perfection just doesn’t exist.
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