Jen Shah is the Queen Bee and MVP of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, and anyone who’s seen the first episode knows it.
RHOSLC premiered on Bravo on Wednesday, November 11, and became the 10th city in the network’s 14-year-old Real Housewives franchise. The reality TV series—which is set in Salt Lake City, Utah—follows six women in the SLC area: Jen Shah, Lisa Barlow, Mary Cosby, Heather Gay, Meredith Marks and Whitney Rose. Jen—a marketing CEO of Tongan and Hawaiian descent—was by far the breakout of the first episode for her already memorable one-liners (“Assalamualaikum, bitches!”) and her no B.S. attitude the other women, especially Mary who tells Jen that her aunt “smells like hospital.”
“It’s not like I tried to bring the drama, but I’m very outspoken and I’ve had to be that way growing up in Utah and being a female in business working with all white males,” Jen tells StyleCaster. “I had to be very assertive and aggressive to get to where I am today. That’s how it fits in with the housewives franchise. Hopefully this is a new era of housewives with Salt Lake City.”
Ahead, Jen talked to StyleCaster about what her relationship with Mary is like now, what led to that glass-smashing moment in the RHOSLC trailer and the advice she received from Real Housewives from other cities.
On how he was cast on RHOSLC
“When Bravo Con happened last November, we were already cast. We had not started filming yet. We started filming in December. How I came to be cast on the show was I was approached by the production company at that time. They were looking for women in business and women who owned businesses. Successful women in business in Utah. They didn’t necessarily say it was for housewives, but when I heard that, that’s when I was like I have to at least speak to them and obviously look into what the possibilities are of this because I knew I would represent a minority group being a minority woman in Utah. At the time, I was cast on the show, I knew some of the other ladies. I knew Heather. I knew Lisa. I knew who Meredith was—we got closer right before filming. I didn’t know who Mary was before we started filming and Whitney.”
On snowflakes being RHOSLC’s symbol
“I felt like snowflakes were perfect because Salt Lake City is known for the greatest snow on earth. So, honestly, if it wasn’t snowflakes, I don’t know what it would’ve been. A beehive? I’m allergic. No, just kidding, I’m not. I think snowflakes are the perfect fit for us because we film during the winter. We showcase a lot of what it’s like here in Salt Lake City and the state is known for is the greatest snow on earth.”
On the Real Housewives shows she watched before she was cast
“I started watching Potomac. I watch Atlanta. The Atlanta reunion, I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard. I was like, ‘Yo, if my cast members think I’m bad or I’m extra or I’m loud, look at Atlanta, and I’m a walk in the park.’ This year, I started watching New York because I really like Leah because she says it how it is, and I appreciate that. I’ve watched Beverly Hills here and there. I wouldn’t say I’m an avid ‘I’m watching every single night the episodes all the way through’ because, honestly, I’m so busy working. But definitely, after I got cast, I’m watching more of them on a consistent basis. Now my team at the office, we’ve got housewives and Bravo on 24/7.”
On the advice she received from other Real Housewives
“I’ve had a couple housewives reach out to me, like D’Andra from Dallas. Wendy from Potomac reached out to me. LeeAnne, she’s not anymore, but she reached out to me. I’m excited because I feel like it’s a sorority that we belong to. It’s nice to hear from ladies reaching out, saying ‘Welcome and hey, if you need anything, let me know.’ They’re there to take us under the wing since we’re a brand-new franchise in season 1. The consistent advice I’ve received from them is just be yourself and be authentic. Literally that’s what they’ve said. All of them.”
On what causes her feud with Mary in the rest of the season
“Those other arguments, they stem from something else. She made some comments about my aunt who is my second mother to me. My grandparents raised me, so at the time when I lived with my grandparents, my aunt was there also, so she was like my mom. Mary made some really, I felt, uncalled for and rude comments—especially, ‘You’re supposed to be a woman of God, so let’s be god-like.’ That whole situation was just an isolated, one incident. Later on, what you see in the trailer when we’re at a luncheon, that is a totally separate issue. I’m Polynesian. My husband’s Black. My kids are obviously Black and Polynesian. A lot of my family is gay or either persons of color. I’m not going to be quiet when things are said. There are disrespectful comments made, and I stand up to that. That’s what you see later on in those trailers.”
On what leads to that glass-smashing moment in the trailer
“I get along with everybody. If you know anything about the Polynesian culture, it’s very loving. When I take you in as a friend, you’re like my family. I’m very loyal. I love very big, and if I get pissed off, I go from zero to 100. There are a few rules that I live by, which are: Don’t disrespect my family, don’t mess with my friends or my businesses, and we’ll be fine. But really, it’s my family that I’m very protective of, so when I smash a glass later on in the episodes, that is physically the basis for that. I’ve smashed a few things in my life.A lot of cell phones. I probably go through one cell phone every other month. It’s gotten better. It used to be every month. It’s actually been two or three months since I’ve smashed one. I just smash it or throw it and get a new one.”
On what her relationship with the other SLC Housewives is like now
“We’re all cordial. We obviously haven’t seen other since filming, but we’re cordial. We’re a friend group. Because we’re friends, we’re going to go through our ups and downs, but at the end of the day, the goal is to have some sort of resolution and move forwards as friends. I get along best with Lisa. Lisa and I have been the closest. I talk to her multiple times every single day. But as far as the group on a whole, we’ll all be on group texts. Mary is the only one that I honestly don’t speak to, but I don’t think Mary speaks to anyone on a consistent basis. So that’s nothing new.”
The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City airs Wednesdays on Bravo at 10 p.m.
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