By Sally Deering Photos by Sally Deering
Reality TV star Drita D’Avanzo of Mob Wives VH1 sometimes talks like a thug on camera but when it comes to cosmetics she’s a a girlie-girl.
On Thursday, August 2nd, D’Avanzo greeted fans and took to the stage at the Staten Island Mall to unveil her new line of make-up, “Just Me.” A former fashion model, D’Avanzo isn’t just lending her celebrity to sell lipstick to the masses. She actually went to school to study skincare and make-up and starting her own cosmetics line has been a dream ever since she was a tomboy growing up in the Projects. For those of you unfamiliar with Mob Wives (VH1, Sunday nights at 8) the show’s title tells all. D’Avanzo and her co-stars married men who aren’t 9-to-5ers, but rather, wiseguys with connections to crime families. For D’Avanzo, she was still a newlywed when police arrested her husband, Lee, and sent him to prison for five years. Like other women who have had to pick up the pieces after a life-changing event, D’Avanzo went to school to study cosmetology. When a friend suggested the idea for a Reality TV show, D’Avanzo signed on.
At the Staten Island Mall, customers lined up to buy lipsticks and lip plumpers and with just an hour to go before premiering her products, D’Avanzo took a few minutes to talk with the Riverview Observer about her new life as a Reality TV star and cosmetics designer.
RVO: Hi Drita, can you share with our readers how “Just Me” came about?
DD: I used to model and watch how the make-up artists did my makeup and I was amazed at how they made me look. When Lee went to jail, I took a job in a high-end department store. I worked all the counters. I loved selling and dealing with everyone’s makeup. I knew I wanted to make high-end products affordable.
RVO: What makes your cosmetics different or better?
DD: I am big on scent and I hate sticky. What makes it different? A lot of cosmetics are created by professional make-up artists. Nobody was behind the counter like I was. For seven years, I listened to a lot of women and what they wanted. All these things give me a lot of leverage.
RVO: Will you be working your new cosmetics into the show?
DD: Yes. The makeup artist for the show uses my lipsticks. Big Ang (another Mob Wife on the show) loves my lipsticks and Carla (also a Mob Wife on the show) loves my lip plumper. My main goal is to have a beautiful, cool store with a DJ, and a place for girls to get their make-up done and hair styled.
RVO: How did Mob Wives come about?
DD: My friend Jenn (Jennifer “Jenn” Graziano) for 20 years always had the idea we should do something that showed our lives and lifestyles. Reality TV was such a big thing and Jenn had the balls to do it. (Mob Wives debuted on VH on April 17, 2011.)
RVO: Are you really as tough as you seem on the show?
DD: I was always tough. Growing up, I was a major tomboy and I had a very bad temper. I was in so many fights.
RVO: What’s the difference between a regular wife and a mob wife?
DD: As a mob wife, you’re kind of treated like a celebrity. I always had that being married to Lee. Everybody knows you. But you know, I was married only three weeks when Lee was being taken away to prison. He did five years. Then two years.
RVO: Aren’t you afraid that you might be spilling some secrets on the show?
DD: Lee’s story and that of other mob wives’ husbands has been in books and movies. They’ve been out there.
RVO: Can you tell our readers a little about your background?
DD: I was born and raised in Staten Island and grew up in the Projects. I graduated from Staten Island High School and I attended the College of Staten Island. Then I studied make-up at the Lea Shorr Institute in Manhattan; I went there when Lee when to jail.
RVO: What are the perks of being a reality TV star?
DD: My life has changed. It’s not like I can go anywhere. I have fans that adore me and wish the best for me. These are phenomenal things. It’s a blessing. The perks are what I’m doing now. I have the ability to live the dream.
RVO: What is the downside?
DD: It’s hard. At the end of the day I’m still a single mom.
Want to find out more about Drita D’Avanzo visit her website Drita