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Real Housewives of Auckland: Louise Wallace reveals what goes on behind the scenes

The claws are out as six Auckland divas let the cameras into their lives

By Nicky Pellegrino
The big question is, what made her do it? Why would anyone in their right mind appear on a reality TV show such as Real Housewives of Auckland and risk becoming a target for criticism, ridicule and social media haters?
Louise Wallace is most definitely in her right mind. She’s whip-smart with a long career in television behind her and you only need to walk into her home in exclusive Paritai Drive to know she didn’t sign up to take part in Real Housewives because she needed the money.
Louise admits her first reaction was, “No way!”
“I didn’t want that invasion of privacy, and taking the p* out of our lives and, besides, I thought my friends would kill me,” she explains.
What she did agree to was helping out with the casting process and finding other women who might be up for becoming Real Housewives. She even attended a lunch
for some of the contenders, including Gilda Kirkpatrick.
Louise recalls that day last summer. “I was pouring the Champagne and doing it all wrong. Holding the bottle by the neck and with the Champagne bubbling over.
Gilda turned to me and said, ‘Don’t give up your day job.’
“Later at home, I thought, ‘I should have been drinking that Champagne, not pouring it.’ I said to my husband Scott, ‘I’m just as talented as those women – well, actually, more – I’ve got a bigger brain and better stuff to say, and I think I might want to give this a go.’”
Louise was aware that, at 56, such an opportunity might not come along again. “I think this was my last chance to be in a high-profile television show,” she says. “This is one of the hottest programmes in the world and I’d have been a fool to turn it down. Plus, I’m quite a believer in fate and think this is happening to me for a reason.”
She was concerned that Scott, who works in advertising, might come in for a hard time. “He said he’d had that sort of thing all his working life being married to me and he thought I should do it.”
So Louise signed up to the Bravo show, with socialite Gilda Kirkpatrick, former model Michelle Blanchard, stylist Angela Stone, author Julia Sloane and Champagne Lady Ann Batley Burton. For the past few months, the cameras have followed their glamorous lives.
Louise reckons it’s all made for great television. For a start, there are plenty of clashes between the six divas. “Oh, yes, God yes,” she laughs. “Things that were totally unscripted and unplanned, that I never dreamed would have happened. Viewers will be gobsmacked. You can expect people to totally lose their rag, and say inappropriate and politically incorrect things. But there’s also humour and a lot of fun.”
She admits the months of being followed by a film crew have been intrusive. “I’ve found it a lot tougher than I thought it would be.”
Partly that’s because of her years in television. As well as current affairs programmes 20/20 and 60 Minutes, Louise worked in front of and behind the cameras on reality show Celebrity Treasure Island, which means she’s wise to the tricks producers use to get interesting footage.
“I’ve come into this with my eyes wide open,” she says. “That’s not to say I haven’t fallen into a couple of traps, but I think I’ve managed to talk myself out of them.”
Then there is all the work necessary to maintain that level of glamour. The eyelash extensions, Botox, perfect manicures, layers of make-up and flashy outfits. “Talk about high maintenance,” says Louise, shaking her head.
“Actually, I’ve found it very challenging having to dress the part all the time. At one stage, I thought, ‘I can’t stand clothes any more. I just want to be in my jeans and T-shirt all the time.’ I’ve also found it difficult having to have my clothes approved and answering to someone else about my look and style.
“Honestly, this programme has cost thousands of dollars to be in. It doesn’t help that because Partridges has been so fabulous and loaned me all this jewellery, every time I go in, I see something I want to buy!”
Louise is experienced enough to know that once the show starts screening, there are likely to be negative reactions. Social media may not have existed back in the days of Celebrity Treasure Island, but still she took flak from talkback radio and gossip columnists.
“I don’t care what they say about me,” she insists. “I know there are people who don’t like me and I don’t need to be loved by everyone. I think the other women will get a huge shock though, apart from Gilda, who’s had a lot of negative feedback already.”
If you’re one of those who can’t stand the Real Housewives format, then Louise reckons there is nothing about the Auckland series that will change your mind. It’s all bling, shoes and pricey designer kit, just like the international versions of the show. “And I do have beautiful designer handbags, jewellery, watches and all that sort of stuff.
I always have,” she says. “But I’ve got a brain as well.”
Most recently that brain has been employed studying for a diploma in criminology at AUT. Louise has a lifelong love of learning and is especially fascinated in the science of what makes a criminal. “Whether it's nature or nurture and the theories behind it; where you live, how you live, who your parents are, poverty, race, how much impact it has,” she explains.
Louise hasn’t finished with her education and hopes to do a Masters at some point. She could afford to spend the rest of her life lunching, having pedicures and doing Pilates, but she knows it wouldn’t make her happy. “I couldn’t stand that,” she says. “I have to have a challenge. I can’t live the life of a housewife. I just can’t.”
After the intensity of shooting the show, she might have been concerned that wrapping it up would leave an empty hole in her life, except fortunately Louise has another challenge following hot on its heels. The theatre company she is involved with, Tadpole Productions, is staging The Pink Hammer at Auckland’s Pumphouse Theatre in October and Louise has a starring role.
“Thank God I’m going into rehearsals soon,” she says. “If I didn’t have a project to look forward to, I’d feel really down in the dumps. I do get down quite easily. If I don’t have a challenge, I get depressed about it.”
Also featuring actresses Annie Whittle, Lisa Chappell and Darien Takle, The Pink Hammer is about four middle-aged women who go to a woodwork class. Louise plays the role of a counsellor who is cool on the outside but is hiding a big secret. “It’s going to be an absolute hoot,” she says. “And it’s after my own heart as well because I’d quite like to learn how to be a handywoman.”
Her theatre project is another motivation for taking on Real Housewives. She hopes raising her profile will help attract bigger audiences for the production. “I don’t care why people come to the play, so long as they come,” she says.
“If it’s to be nosy and because they think they’re going to see me, that’s fine. As long as I get bums on seats.” What many viewers might not realise is that Louise trained to be a professional actor at top London drama school Webber Douglas. “So it’s not just me being some sort of tragic TV presenter wanting to try my hand at acting,” she says.
She has already appeared in TV dramas such as Shortland Street and Agent Anna, and would love to expand her career and land more acting work both here and in Australia, although traditionally that’s harder for women to do as they age.
“I think that’s changing,” she says. “It has been virtually impossible to get TV presenting work, but I’d like to model myself on Ellen DeGeneres who’s 58. If those opportunities came up, I’d be open to them.”
As for the friends she thought might give her hell about doing Housewives, Louise thinks they understand what prompted the decision. “They know TV is my life. I love television. I’ve been in love with it since I was a little girl.”

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