Â By Sally DeeringÂ Â Â Â Â Â Photos by Sally Deering
Â Reality TV star Drita Dâ€™Avanzo of Mob Wives VH1 sometimes talks like a thug on camera but when it comes to cosmetics sheâ€™s aÂ a girlie-girl.
Â On Thursday, August 2nd, Â Dâ€™Avanzo greeted fans and took to the stage at the Staten Island Mall to unveil her new line of make-up, â€œJust Me.â€ A former fashion model, Dâ€™Avanzo isnâ€™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.Â For those of you unfamiliar with Mob Wives (VH1, Sunday nights at 8) the showâ€™s title tells all. Dâ€™Avanzo and her co-stars married men who arenâ€™t 9-to-5ers, but rather, wiseguys with connections to crime families. For Dâ€™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, Dâ€™Avanzo went to school to study cosmetology. When a friend suggested the idea for a Reality TV show, Dâ€™Avanzo signed on.Â Â Â
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, Dâ€™Avanzo took a few minutes to talk with the Riverview Observer about her new life as a Reality TV star and cosmetics designer.
Â RVO: Hi Drita, can you share with our readers how â€œJust Meâ€ 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 everyoneâ€™s makeup. I knew I wanted to make high-end products affordable.
Â 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.
Â 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 aÂ place for girls to get their make-up done and hair styled.
RVO: How did Mob Wives come about?
DD: My friend Jenn (Jennifer â€œJennâ€ 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.)
Â 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: Whatâ€™s the difference between a regular wife and a mob wife?
DD:Â As a mob wife, youâ€™re kind of treated like a celebrity. I always had that being married to Lee. Everybody knows you.Â 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:Â Arenâ€™t you afraid that you might be spilling some secrets on the show?
DD:Â Leeâ€™s story and that of other mob wivesâ€™ husbands has been in books and movies. Theyâ€™ve been out there.
Â 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.
Â RVO: What are the perks of being a reality TV star?
DD: My life has changed. Itâ€™s not like I can go anywhere. I have fans that adore me and wish the best for me. These are phenomenal things. Itâ€™s a blessing. The perks are what Iâ€™m doing now. I have the ability to live the dream.
Â RVO: What is the downside?
DD: Itâ€™s hard. At the end of the day Iâ€™m still a single mom.
Want to find out more about Drita D’Avanzo visit her website Drita