Dina Manzo, former Real Housewives of New Jersey star, is heading back to reality TV.
But fuhgeddabout seeing her return to the show that made her a household name. Instead Manzo has been tapped by HGTV to headline her own series called Dina’s Party; it debuts on the cable network next month.
Each thirty-minute episode focuses on how Manzo turns a boring get-together into the ultimate soiree that gets the neighborhood talking. DivineCaroline caught up with Dina to discuss her new reality TV venture.
DivineCaroline: Tell me about your new TV series for HGTV, Dina’s Party?
Dina Manzo: Because I arrange events out of people’s homes, you will see my new and fresh ideas on how to throw a fabulous party with over-the-top designs. It is a mix of fantasy and design. Everyone can do this without breaking the bank. It doesn’t matter if you are hosting an intimate dinner party or having a big event. Everyone will walk away learning something.
DC: Have you always had a knack for throwing a cool party?
DM: I remember redecorating my room every week when I was a little girl. I would move things around all of the time. Actually my mom was artistic. She would make our curtains and paint our rooms so beautifully. She was my big influence, and I just grew up watching her. When I was twenty-two years old, I started studying design, and when I was twenty-three, I became an interior designer.
DC: So you basically combined your passion for design with partying?
DM: Basically I design the event you want. I love my job because I get to be creative and have clients who are open to taking risks.
DC: What is the most outrageous party you have ever planned?
DM: Besides my wedding that was on TV? (laughs)
DC: What was the most expensive party you have ever planned?
DM: I’ve had clients spend over $200,000 on a wedding and have had other clients spend $60,000 for a first birthday party.
DC: Has the economy had an impact on your business?
DM: Of course. I am a luxury. The “wow” factor in times like these has taken a back seat, especially in corporate America, where we used to do a lot of over-the-top events. People, especially large companies, are more cautious on how they spend their money.
DC: Have you ever spearheaded an event where things went wrong?
DM: (laughs) Little things go wrong all of the time. One thing I am good at is strategizing on how to find a quick solution to the problem.
DC: You sound like a doctor in the emergency room who has to make quick decisions.
DM: Exactly. You have to think on your toes and be creative at a moment’s notice.
DC: Such as?
DM: Things tend to go wrong during setup. We get broken rentals, or the weather does not cooperate, and then we have to scramble to set up again.
DC: Why not go back to The Real Housewives of New Jersey now that Danielle is off of the show?
DM: Because I have my own show. (laughs).
DC: Good point.
DM: Seriously though, when I left Housewives, I had no desire to do TV anymore. When this opportunity came along, it allowed me to do what I love doing and promote Project Ladybug, which is my true passion.
DC: So you are doing this for charity?
DM: Housewives gave Project Ladybug its wings, and because of that exposure, we have been able to expand to New York and Chicago. Without the fans who help support the foundation, we can’t help other people. I am well aware that the social media platform helps us help all of these children.
DC: This is like your fourth venture into reality TV. You must like it?
DM: I don’t love it. I especially don’t love the nasty comments people post about me on the blogs, especially the blogs specifically designed to rip apart the housewives.
DC: How did you deal with the criticism?
DM: I just learned not to read it even though it was disheartening. My daughter saw stuff and got upset. I just tune it out, especially if they say they won’t watch something because I was a housewife.
DC: What did they say?
DM: I was ripped apart because of my wedding, which was on TV. At that time I didn’t know any better. When I read the comments, I got upset and said, “Why did they say that?” Having had the experience on Housewives, I taught myself how to ignore that stuff.
DC: Speaking of the New Jersey housewives, do you still watch the program?
DM: I do. Matter of fact, Teresa Giudice was just at my house.
DC: What’s your take on this season? DM: It is upsetting to me. I have known Teresa and her parents personally for a long time, and I truly adore them. They are the nicest people in the world. I can’t stop thinking about them and what this must be doing to them. It has been upsetting to watch, and it makes me just want to hug her dad. Going on national TV like this was not a good idea.
DC: Speaking of Project Ladybug, you are hoping to grow again?
DM: Yes. We are in New Jersey, New York, and Chicago. I am also working on Florida and Los Angeles, but I want to make sure we have the funds to do it right. If I grow too fast, I might lose this organization, and I really want to do it right and make a difference.