More: You recently did a stint in an off-Broadway play?
Marla Maples: I did. I was in a play called Love, Loss, and What I Wore.
More: This wasn’t your first time performing on the live stage in the Big Apple?
MM: I did the Will Rogers Follies back in the 1990s. I loved that show, and even got to work with Tommy Tune.
More: When did you get bitten by the acting bug?
MM: When I was young. My dad was an actor and did opera and musical theatre. I think he passed the acting gene along to me. My mother, she was gorgeous and could turn heads wherever she went.
More: I see where you get your talent and looks.
MM: I started out as an athlete but people pushed me into pageants, telling me, “Think past your small-town life.” But I do like the self-discovery and going deeper into yourself when you are acting.
More: Aside from your talents as an actor—you were thrust onto the public stage when it was discovered you were Donald Trump’s girlfriend?
MM: Yes. Everything in life is preparation for what is coming your way. That was a big stage and it came at a time when I was discovering what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
More: Did you get swept up by The Donald’s lavish lifestyle?
MM: I did get swept away into a very big world, and then it was about survival.
More: When people learned who you were, many cast you as the other woman and the person responsible for breaking up Donald’s marriage to Ivana. How did that make you feel?
MM: I did not want the media. Ivana worked the media and she was able to manipulate it in a way that served her.
More: Did that upset you?
MM: I don’t blame her. She needed to survive. I was coming into a relationship with all my heart. The last thing on my mind was to hurt anyone or break up a marriage. I was told their marriage was already over. When I love, I love completely. I put my whole heart and soul into it. But it did come with a set of circumstances, and I wanted to believe everything I was being told.
More: Were you aware of the things people said about you?
MM: I am over it now and have moved past all of that. I am pretty good at pulling all my energy together when I am down and creating an intimate world that is positive. The challenges that came with that helped me to grow.
More: Good for you.
MM: You can’t look at things and be a victim. I am a big believer that things manifest in the world that our soul needs to grow.
More: Did it ever take a toll on your self-esteem?
MM: When I got pregnant with Tiffany, I was starring in a Broadway show. All of a sudden everything turned and I had to change my life. I was going to be a mom and I had a responsibility to create a world that was safe and full of love. For me, that meant changing my dreams. My purpose was to make sure this child was loved.
More: How quickly you veered off course.
MM: Yes. I wasn’t planning on having a child at that point in my life. I was very ambitious about my career goals and what I wanted to accomplish. However, it all changed when I became pregnant with Tiffany. I immediately said to myself, “I am going to be a great mom, and her coming, there is a great purpose around that.” I could not let the media interfere with my focus, which was to give my child all that I could.
More: Do you consider yourself a survivor?
MM: I went through abuse and the cancer of friends, if that's what you are talking about.
More: You endured so much?
MM: I got caught up in a web that involved a much older man and his life. What shocked me then, and still does: Why can a man have an affair in a marriage and the woman gets blamed for it? As for me, I have to take responsibility for my part. I was young, only 23 years old, and very trusting. I believed everything I was told. Turns out, things weren't what I had been told. Unlike some situations, mine was with public people who were in the media, and as a result it became more difficult.
More: How did you escape the media frenzy?
MM: When all of this happened, I went to Guatemala to work with a friend in the Peace Corps who was aiding children. My goal was to get to the root of what was important. What was happening in the news was between Donald and Ivana. I should not have been part of that issue. I wanted them to work it out.
More: And when you came back?
MM: I had to face it. Donald, Ivana and I were all part of something very big. I was so sorry for the pain I brought to her. I was happy when I was finally able to speak out and tell her, “I am so sorry for anything I have done and any pain I have brought into your life.”
More: What was her reaction?
MM: She knows. We were able to work it out in a way. My intention never was to wreck her marriage. I was so young and got swept away in something big with a married man who told me his marriage was over. I dealt with it as best as I could.
More: Do you feel you have your own identity back?
MM: That was all 20 years ago. When I go out now, people really know me for me. I did 10 years of deep spiritual work, and today I have a radio show and have been working on my music.
MM: Yes. I have a new album coming out this fall called Visions of Eternity, and it is all about raising spiritual consciousness.
More: Aside from your busy career you are also a single mom?
MM: When I started, I never thought I would be doing this on my own. It has been a blessing, and men do not know all the joys they miss by not being more involved.
More: Was it hard being a single parent?
MM: Yeah. I did not have the dad there to turn to for questions, and for her other emotional needs, like her first heartache. Look, I had my moments when I was sad and ventured into the zone of expecting people to change.
More: Did you have any help?
MM: My mother has been a huge help and wonderful caretaker for the times I needed to work. I have been very dependent on working in order to maintain a home for my daughter. I did not walk away from my divorce as a multimillionaire, not by a long shot.
More: Were you disappointed?
MM: I like working and making my own money. I don’t like being dependent on another human being. We all have to depend on ourselves to create that flow at any time.
More: What has being a single parent taught you?
MM: It taught me to listen well and to really hear what she is saying.
More: Does Tiffany have a relationship with her dad?
MM: I have been the one in her life, but I am grateful that her dad gave me the most wonderful child. I know he will help me cover the cost of college because he is a great provider in terms of education. If Tiffany were to call him I know he would talk to her, because he loves his children.
More: How did you get through a public divorce?
MM: I went through it, and what I learned is that you can’t let it limit you and consume you.
More: When your marriage ended did it catch you by surprise?
MM: Oh god no. I knew there was no way to move forward. We were way too different at the core level. I had hoped when I became pregnant, and in taking those vows at our wedding, that we could keep it together.
More: Tiffany is college bound?
MM: Yes. She looked at Harvard, toured Duke and loved Princeton.
More: Does she have a relationship with her siblings?
MM: Yes. Actually, Ivanka helped Tiffany secure an internship at Vogue this year. She would go to work at 5:30 AM, and even got to have lunch with Anna Wintour.
More: Did you and Tiffany do anything special when you weren’t working?
MM: We went to Africa with the “Nu Skin Force for Good Foundation” to work with a few orphanages for a couple of weeks. Our job was to deliver food to the villages. We also got to see the schools where people can learn to be better farmers and create a better water supply.
More: Did you ever want to get remarried?
MM: Tiffany was always number one. She came before everything else, including another relationship. As a result, it became hard to create space for a man. I became engaged to Michael Mailer years ago but in the end I wasn’t quite ready to be married again. While a lot of single moms went out on the weekends when their kids were with their dads, I never had that opportunity because I was a full-time mom.
MM: Priorities. I didn’t have that time to myself to discover that part of myself.
More: Any regrets?
MM: Oh no. Tiffany is my greatest gift and I am so happy I got to be the parent who was there for her. I will cry when she leaves for college. My ex-husband has his mission and his devotion to what he wants to do in the world. Maybe I didn’t make tons of money, but I have a relationship with my daughter that is way more valuable.
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