By Veronic Dudo
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS) – Kyle Richards, one of the stars of Bravo’s popular TV series, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills recently met with fans in Atlantic City during the Mohegan Sun’s Reality Check event hosted by Resorts Casino. Richards answered questions from the audience, took photos with fans and signed copies of her book, Life is Not a Reality Show: Keeping It Real with the Housewife Who Does It All. The busy mom of four also talked about her marriage, life in front of the camera and opened up on how she finds the strength to deal with a common health disorder.
Welcome to Atlantic City! Have you been here before?
I have, when I was a little girl though I haven’t been here for years. My sister Kathy [Hilton] and her husband Rick [Hilton] use to bring my niece Paris and me when we were little and we would go on the boardwalk and get salt water taffy.
How did the Reality Check event go?
It was a lot of fun! I love being in Atlantic City, I love meeting new people. Everybody coming out tonight, I think they had really interesting questions—sometimes I get the same questions over and over again but I don’t think I had one question tonight that I’ve ever had before! It was a very interesting crowd and I really liked getting to know everyone.
What are some of the popular questions fans ask you?
I get a lot of relationship advice questions: How to meet the right guy? How to keep the right guy? And then once you’re married how to have a happy, solid marriage—I even got that question a lot way before the show from our friends. My husband and I are sort of like the go-to people our friends come to and I don’t think I really appreciated it that much when I was younger. I was like, ‘Oh, yeah we have a great marriage. No big deal.’ Now that I’m at this stage in my life, my husband and I both are so appreciative of what we have and we realize wow, not everyone has this. What is the secret here? We try to share with our friends what works for us because it really is a job; it’s not something to be taken for granted. It’s something you really have to appreciate and nurture every day.
How has being on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills changed your life?
It’s just funny walking down the street and strangers know you. They come up, hug you and say, ‘Oh, how are you? How’s your relationship with your sister? I love your husband! I love your daughter! Where did you get those hardwood floors?’ So, it’s funny being known as yourself. It’s one thing to be on a scripted television show and be playing a character and people know you, but when you play yourself, people feel they really do known you and will come up and hug you and say things—it’s interesting.
When you watch the episodes of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills do you think it’s real to life?
Yeah, it’s real to life but there’s a lot of times where I’m like, ok, they just showed that but they didn’t show the back story or there’s a big piece missing so that’s very hard.
Your family is important to you including your four daughters. Is it difficult for them growing up in the spotlight?
I just try to keep my kids really grounded. I try to teach them to be appreciative of everything we have, that not everyone has what we have and that we didn’t always have this. Their Dad and I worked very hard, we haven’t had any help. I try to teach them the value of a dollar; I try to teach them treat people the way you want to be treated—what I consider the basic rules of life.
You have been married to your husband, Mauricio Umansky for 17 years. Do you feel any pressure with so much focus on your happy union?
It’s funny I went through a stage where I was like, ‘Oh my God there’s so much focus on our marriage–I don’t like that! Why is everyone analyzing our marriage?’ But I don’t feel that now. It’s really made us even more aware, we’re hypersensitive and like, ‘Wow, we’re so lucky.’ There’s so much talk of how reality TV marriages end in divorce. My husband was like, ‘Why are they all saying that?’ He got very nervous and protective and I realized in analyzing this that a lot of people who do a reality show get involved in it as an “out.” I think Taylor [Armstrong] signed on to do the Housewives as an out of her marriage. A lot of people think, ‘I got to get out of here, but I’m not independent so maybe I’ll do this reality TV show and I’ll be on my own, I’ll be fine.’ So, there are problems to begin with. If you do have any cracks in your marriage—it’s not a good idea to do a reality TV show. But, I don’t think there are a lot of positive role models out there. My husband and I do have an amazing marriage and we have a beautiful family and we’re very proud of that so it’s nice that they show a little bit of that even though they usually show the drama but they show a glimpse of that too.
Early in your career as an actress, you were in the movie, The Watcher in the Woods. What was it like to work with the legendary Bette Davis?
Well, she was almost 80 years old and my mom studied at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York so she was a movie buff and she said to me, ‘You’re working with one of the biggest movie stars of all-time’ and I was like whatever. I didn’t get it! And she would try to teach me and tell me stories and she would read my books about old Hollywood and try to get through my head of how big of a deal it was but I really did not get or appreciate it until way later and now I’m like, ‘Wow, I got to work with some of the biggest film and TV stars of our time’ and I really appreciate it as an adult.
Is there something fans may not know about you that you would like to share?
I have Fibromyalgia. That’s one thing I don’t really talk about usually. I talk about it right now because it’s been really bad lately so it’s been more of a focus. It comes and goes in my life. The last time it was really bad was about a year and a half ago otherwise I just normally deal with it on a day to day basis and I’m use to it. Sometimes it gets very bad and right now it’s been very bad. There are a lot of things that I do to help myself feel better but you cannot cave into it.
How do you get through those tough days?
Sometimes it gets so bad that I can barely function so I’m like ok, I have to figure out a way to physically take care of myself so I do yoga twice a week, I circuit train twice a week and the other days I try to hike not only to keep myself in shape but because of my fibromyalgia I have to do that in order to feel ok.
Veronica Dudo is an award-winning journalist covering everything from breaking news to red carpet celebrity interviews. Follow her on Twitter @VeronicaDudo and Facebook