To say Alexia Nepola’s life is dramatic is putting it mildly at best. Returning for Season 4 of The Real Housewives of Miami (after a multi-year hiatus) Alexia found herself in the middle of a firestorm. Her ex-husband Herman’s sexuality, her current husband Todd integrating into the family, and her own relationships with the women certainly kept the new Mrs. Napolo more than busy this season. As the world prepared to witness the sure to be epic Season 4 reunion, Alexia sat down with me to have an exclusive chat. She opened up extensively (for the first time with the LGBTQ press) about her relationship with her ex-husband (and what it was like meeting his lover), her own love for the LGBTQ community, as well as what it was like returning for a new season of The Real Housewives of Miami.
Michael Cook: Welcome back; it has been a long time since The Real Housewives of Miami was on the air and your fan base has not diminished; it is safe to say, that the LGBTQ community still adores you!
Alexia Nepola: Oh, thank you! I am so proud of that. I love the gay community, and to me, I am either a gay man in this life or my next life (laughs). The community is beautiful and are just everything to me.
MC: As the reunion to The Real Housewives of Miami fast approaches, what is one word you can use to describe the reunion?
AN: It was..unexpected. Everyone has a different view of the reunion. I’m not going to lie, I haven’t done this in eight years. I did have a very strong storyline so you are always scared, because you don’t know what to expect. The truth is, you can’t ever really “prepare” for the reunion because it could take a different direction at any moment, so you can just try and be prepared. It was really unexpected, but it was really great. What we should really get out of the reunion is the fact that we are in a much better place today than when we started this. That we all learned something from looking back at ourselves on tv, we got something good from it, and we are moving forward. If there was something that we didn’t like, we hashed it out at the reunion, we talked about it, and we moved forward like adults. I am happy; I like the girls on the show and I am happy that we have all become good friends.
MC: While all of the girls on The Real Housewives of Miami are extremely busy, your real-life is truly a telenovela of its own. From your husband Herman passing away prior to filming, to your relationship with your sons, to your now-husband Todd, you truly opened your life to the cameras, real and raw.
AN: You’re right and I feel like a lot of women that sign up for these shows, they don’t realize that, especially the new girls. I had a problem with the new girls as far as that goes, but I can really only speak for me. I think that what really helped me this season after so many years, to put my life out there, was that I started writing a book right after Frankie’s accident. I guess since I was putting it all on paper, there are a lot of subjects that I have never spoken to anyone about; not my family, my best friend, or my husband. There were a lot of secrets that I had internally that I was able to now express on paper. I realized it was very therapeutic, and I realized that If I could do that, it would help me one day to talk about it.
MC: It seems like every challenging experience you face you process it, then try to use it as a lesson…
AN: People will ask me, if I have always known these things, why does it take me twenty years to talk about it? There is really no answer; it is when you are ready, ten years or ten minutes. Everyone is different and in my case, it really helped me to start to write the book. I obviously have to add a lot of chapters to it, as it was right after Frankie’s accident and two years later, Herman and I separated. He passed away a year and a half later, and then after his passing, I was finding out a lot of things that I did not know about before. It has been many years, and a lot of things have continued to happen in my life. I am in my fifties now, and I am not ashamed of the things that have happened to me anymore. I am actually proud; that is where I am in my life. These things that I didn’t like in my life, I have learned to accept them and turn them into something positive and to learn from them. I have always been able to move forward.
MC: How do you find the strength to move forward in the face of so many challenges?
AN: It’s funny, yesterday at the reunion, Andy (Cohen) actually asked that question. I got that question from a lot of viewers also. It is truly like a gift from God. I am blessed that I have this inner strength. The truth is, I have no choice. I need to do this; I never give up. I fall down, and who is going to help me up? Only myself. I need to get back up and take care of this, resolve it, move on and take it as a life lesson. I have always done it; I don’t know if it is genetics, a combination of my mom and dad, they were both very strong individuals so I may get it from them.
MC: That partially explains why the LGBTQ community does gravitate towards you, you are the definition of a survivor. That said, finding out your former husband Herman was possibly gay after his passing and discussing his lover on-screen was something we had never seen before, but something some people may be able to relate to. That said, previous cast members did come forward and say that they felt it was disrespectful. Was that surprising to you?
AN: Oh that was very expected. It is not surprising that one of our former cast members would do this. Even before this all started, I knew that Lea Black-I don’t even like to say here name-would go out and say something like that. It is very expected of her to say something like that. She works behind the scenes, I am sure she was one of the first ones that knew he was gay and was saying it behind my back, that is how she rolls. Me on the other hand, I never said that because I never knew that he was. People would say that I was his beard, that I was a gold digger, all of these things when in reality, I didn’t even know what a beard was, I had to look it up when I heard about it on Season 2 or 3. No one knows my story like I do and I am a vey honest and truthful person. Like I said though, you have to be ready to talk about it. That was it is truth, raw and real. I am not a liar and I am not a hypocrite and I am not trying to be someone that I am not.
MC: The way it was portrayed, many viewers feel you handled it sensitively and honored Herman’s truth.
AN: The truth is, I did do it from a good place. On these shows, if I don’t bring it up, someone else is definitely going to bring it up. As you saw, Adriana did bring something up that was a bit inappropriate considering the circumstances. This is my story, my narrative and I have control of it; this was the truth. Herman was so powerful and very loved in the community, as he should be because he was a wonderful person. People protected him; and it is stupid, why should people protect you about your sexuality? What is so wrong with being a bisexual man or having a specific sexual preference? It is just mind boggling to me, and it should just never be that. I never really understood that, and I really wanted to know after Herman passed away, I had no closure.
MC: What was it like unearthing these secrets about Herman after he passed?
AN: After he passed away, I started to find out all of these things, by his family ironically enough. When I started finding things out, they were trying to hurt me and I only had love for this man. What hurt me was that he never had the balls to tell me, he never thought it was okay to tell me that, and I was so hurt by that. The fact that he never trusted me, even though he knew I would have been one hundred percent okay… I love that, I would have supported him, I would have even set him up with guys, for real; that is who I am. That is what really hurt me. I was so happy in spite of everything that he got to live his dream, got to do what he wanted, and have that connection with a man. Because he did; and I was happy for that. I was looking at the good part of it, but of course Lea is a dark person and looks at it from a dark side, like me trying to expose something. She is the queen of exposing, she exposes everybody and in a nasty way. I have a good heart and I was never trying to expose Herman. But when someone dies, that is what happens. You’re alive and people only like to talk about the negative things, but I don’t see being gay as a negative, I see it as a positive always. That was my point; I was trying to get the story to have closure, and I am so fortunate that I got to have that with his lover.
MC: And your feelings about Herman’s lover now?
AN: I only have regards and respect for the lover. I sat there on the phone since we never got to meet in person, and I am so sorry that they showed all of those pictures, which I did not provide. He is a public person also because nowadays, everyone is public; if you have social media, you are public. Just the fact that we had this conversation and he was so open to me. We cried and laughed together and we have this special bond because we have this person in common that we both loved. I just wanted to know that he was okay and I was so proud that he was able to do that. He told me “Alexia, he would have never told you, he had such high regard for you”. I felt though, that not telling me was disrespectful; but that is how we all see things differently sometimes. I did not have that closure with Herman unfortunately. but through his boyfriend, who I believe Herman really fell in love with. you can be in love with two people at the same time. He loved this man and he loved me too, and I am okay with it. People need to be more okay and mature about it. We aren’t here to change the world; we can only work on ourselves and try to be better.
MC: Miami was always a diverse franchise, with a very different flavor completely. Now though, you have women like Julia who is the first lesbian Housewife case, and a truly diverse cast, with you at the center of it. Did you ever in your wildest dreams think the show would return?
AN: I always thought the show would come back, I always believed in Miami as a city and that it would come back. We had a lot of these components of diversity before it even became a social issue. Miami had all that, but no one thought of it because it was portrayed a different way. The social issues were portrayed a different way at the time also. The fact that we could have a comeback eight years later and have these social issues addressed as real stories, and have the inclusivity and the diversity, I am just so proud to be a part of it. I always believed Miami was that city, and luckily for us, we are able to showcase this. The truth is, this is the world that we are living in now and we have all of these components, the whole world is getting to see it on Peacock because of streaming.
MC: If the Alexia Nepola of today was able to tell the Alexia Ecchevaria that left Season 3 anything at all, what would it be?
AN: I have always lived in the present. I was happy with the Alexia of Season 3, I was always happy with Alexia period. I have always been the type, even when I was a schoolteacher, the thing about me is that I have always been happy with who I am at the stage of my life I am in. Whoever I am with, whatever I am doing, I have always loved every time. If I am not happy, I do something about it. I either fix it or try to fix it. I really have not changed, I think I have always been who I am, with the same values and morals. feel like the Alxis of today is more free, unapologetic, more proud, happier and trying different things. For example, I always dated Latino men now I am married to an American man and I love it. I would tell her keep being you and don’t let anyone take away your smile. Don’t give up on your dreams; I am still fighting. Todd doesn’t like that I say I fight for him or for my kids, but this is who I am. I never give up. The warrior in me never accepts no for an answer, but in a good way. I am proud of that Alexia of Season 3 and I continue to be proud; I hope I am making everyone proud also.
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