10 Things You Didn’t Know About RHONJ Star Jacqueline Laurita
Jacqueline Laurita joined Bravo’s reality series The Real Housewives of New Jersey back in 2009 for the first season. She stayed with the show until season 6 when she left entirely and only appeared as a guest on the show. During the first few seasons of the show, Laurita was a popular cast member who was often seen as the calm voice of reason among a bunch of loud and opinionated Italian women. However, in the past few seasons she had a major falling out with leading housewife Teresa Giudice and hasn’t been heard of much since. She’s now returned full time for season 7 and fans are excited to see what she’s been up to lately and how she stands in her relationships with former housewives Dina and Teresa. In the meantime, here’s a look at 10 things you might know have known about this New Jersey housewife!
10. She’s a Licensed Cosmetologist
According to Jacqueline’s website she is a licensed cosmetologist who’s been in the industry for over 20-years. She has a passion for everything related to beauty, including hair, makeup and skincare. Today, Jacqueline no longer uses her cosmetologist license, but she still preaches her knowledge to fans. She co-wrote a book called “Get It!: A Beauty, Style, and Wellness Guide to Getting Your “It” Together” with her friend, beauty and style expert Jene Luciani. The book contains all of the beauty expertise she’s gathered over the past 20 years, plus tips on how to “live the best life possible,” tackling topics from relationships to fitness.
9. Her First Marriage
Jacqueline had her first child, daughter Ashlee Holmes when she was only 19-years-old. At the time she was married to Ashlee’s father, Matt Holmes. The two exchanged nuptials in a Las Vegas wedding ceremony, but their marriage only lasted from 1989 to 1992. He still played a minor part in their lives, but Jacqueline essentially raised her daughter all on her own until she married Chris Manzo and he became Ashlee’s stepfather. He was featured on the show briefly when he came to visit Ashlee and again when she moved out of her New Jersey home to go live with him. Matt and his current wife Jodi were found in some legal trouble back in 2012 when they became the subject of an FBI investigation. The couple was accused of arson, insurance fraud and money laundering.
8. Her Marriage to Chris
In a blog on Bravo, Jacqueline recounts the story of how she met her husband, Chris, back in 1996. Her daughter from a previous marriage, Ashley was only 5-years-old and Jacqueline was working as a hairdresser while doing some modeling on the side. “At the time, I rented a chair in a salon doing hair as a licensed cosmetologist in Las Vegas, Nevada where I had moved with my ex-husband and my parents in 1990. I don’t really like to call it modeling because it wasn’t as glamorous as print work and runway, but I had fun doing it anyway.” Her father told her that one of his coworkers knew someone who needed a model to work at his booth at a trade show in Chicago. “Chris was returning from vacation when he and his brother decided last minute to go to the convention in Chicago. Chris and his brothers happened to come by our booth and his brother just happened to know one of the girls I was working with through her sister. Small world. Chris and I were introduced. I thought nothing of it, besides the fact that he was a handsome guy with pretty blue eyes and dimples who was very quiet and seemed shy, but sexy at the same time.” Their introduction lead to going on a first date and a long distance relationship that spanned five years before he finally popped the question. They now share two boys together, Christopher (CJ) and Nicholas.
7. Financial Issues
There have been many rumors involving Jacqueline and Chris’s financial situation over the past few years. Although Teresa and Joe’s situation has been the main focus in the media, these two have been quietly suffering as well. They were allegedly in debt for defrauding co-workers while spending copious amounts of money on luxury items. When Jacqueline made her guest appearance on season 6, she commented on the fact that she had to put their house on the market because of mounting bills from Nicholas’s autism treatment. In fact, their home was in foreclosure and the couple was forced into selling both of their homes, which were listed for less than what they originally bought them for. What wasn’t mentioned on the show but rather had been reported on in the media is that their legal issues revolved around Chris’s business, Signature Apparel, filing for bankruptcy. They were accused of draining company bank accounts, which contained around $8 million, to fund their lavish lifestyle. According to the Daily Mail, Jacqueline and Chris filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009 and were charged with defrauding their creditors and hit with a $7.8 million lawsuit. It was reported they were trying to settle out of court and this season Jacqueline and her family seem to be back on their feet.
6. Jacqueline Caused Riffs with Chris’s Family
When former Real Housewife Caroline Manzo was on Watch What Happens Live back in 2013 she commented on their family troubles which have been a subject of interest on the show. The main problem is between former housewife and sister of Caroline, Dina Manzo, and her sister-in-law Jacqueline Laurita. The two haven’t gotten along, especially since the season one finale involving Danielle Staub’s story. As a result, Dina has become an estranged sister to Jacqueline’s husband, Chris, and his other sister Caroline. Dina even gave Chris an ultimatum: In order for her to have a relationship with him again, he must leave his wife. Caroline said, “Over the past four years, five years, Dina has never attended any family function at all…I want you to understand the gravity of that: This is a man that has a son that has special needs, and you’re saying for him to leave his wife in order for you to have a relationship with [him].” Dina had a chance to rectify this and she commented that, while she is able to mend fences with some of her estranged family members, there is one person she will never make up with and that’s Jacqueline. “There are certain people, I cannot have exchanges with…It’s healthier to love from a distance…I don’t want a relationship with Jacqueline…I don’t need the chaos.”
5. She Suffered Postpartum Depression
During season 4 of The Real Housewives of New Jersey Teresa revealed that during her confessional interview that Jacqueline had once punched Caroline Manzo in the face! Teresa brought it up in passing because she was clearly trying to deflect and minimize her family issues by bringing up something much more dramatic from the past that made someone else look bad. Her comment obviously didn’t sit to well with either Caroline or Jacqueline who didn’t dispute the validity of the comment which means it did happen, but stated it happened 10 years ago when Jacqueline was suffering from postpartum depression. Caroline wrote in her blog, “One thing I want to address is the Jacqueline/Caroline punch in the face comment. As you all know, we’ve discussed this before and neither Jac or I have tried to hide it. What bothers me is the fact that it was brought up again, so many years later. This happened over ten years ago, shortly after Jac gave birth to C.J. She was suffering from post partum depression and going through a really tough time. I’m insulted and disappointed that T would use Jac’s suffering as a sticking point.” Despite Jacqueline’s continued feud with her other sister-in-law Dina, Caroline and Jacqueline are now quite close and have gotten over whatever happened in the past.
4. Her Son has Autism
Jacqueline and Chris’s youngest son, Nicholas was diagnosed with autism in 2012. Fans of RHONJ have seen his struggle documented on the show and have observed how hard it is on both Jacqueline and Chris. Since his diagnosis, Jacqueline has been heavily involved in the autism community spreading awareness and raising money. Today, Nicholas has made huge progress, but there were definitely times when it was extremely hard on her. In an interview with Reality Tea she said: “It was difficult filming season 3 and 4 when Nicholas was regressing and before he was diagnosed. Our focus changed. And what was important has changed. Priorities. Who was copying someone else’s eye shadow was no longer meaningful. The show did provide me with a platform for raising autism awareness. And the amount of people who reached out was huge.” Laurita also wrote a book with her husband, Chris called “Defy Expectations” and it talks about their journey as parents of a child with autism. “People that aren’t going through it don’t understand it. I love having the opportunity to be able to show people because honestly, what’s given me strength is listening to everyone else’s stories, their struggles, their successes. That’s what gives us hope and strength, so if I can do that for someone else, then it feels so good to me.”
Take the Get 10 to #Give10 Challenge for @generationrescue to help families with Autism! Donated $10 to Generationrescue.org and challenge 10 people to do it! We challenge @carolinemanzo @albiemanzo @chris_manzo @laurenmanzo @officialkathywakile @tpgrippe @melissagorga @ashleenicholexx @siggy.flicker @dolorescatania #genrescue #Unselfie #GivingTuesday A photo posted by Jacqueline Laurita (@jaclaurita) on
3. Her Daughter Ashlee is Pregnant
For many years on RHONJ we saw a strange dynamic between Jacqueline and her first child, daughter Ashlee. At the time, Ashlee was still a teenager and these two bickered so much — they never seemed to meet eye to eye. Their fighting got so bad that Ashlee even moved out of the house and in with her father. Jacqueline had Ashlee when she was extremely young and she raised her all by herself so they have a very close relationship. She compares their relationship to almost being like sisters who bicker. Their relationship is now in a much better place. Ashlee is 25-years-old and is pursuing a career as a make-up artist. More importantly, she is now pregnant! In an interview with E! News, Jacqueline said she’s beyond ecstatic about the news. “I’m going to be a glamma! She’s feeling great. She’s showing now, she’s happy, she’s into it. Like, she researches all the time, like the best for the baby. She has almost everything for the baby already. And she’s just very, very into it. I love it. It’s so cute to see her like that.”
Before Jacqueline gave birth to her second and third child with current husband, Chris, she had five miscarriages. There is a 7-year age gap between her first son CJ and her second son Nicholas — this had to do with her inability to carry a child to term. She shared a personal note to her fans on social media and wrote, “When I got pregnant with Nicholas, I had already had 5 miscarriages so I was so afraid I would have another one. In the beginning, I was told they couldn’t find his heartbeat on the sonogram and I may have lost him. A week later, we saw his beating heart!!! We never gave up on him then and we will never give up on him now! He is our miracle baby.”
1. The Real Reason for her Falling Out with Teresa
Fans all saw the story of Teresa and Jacqueline’s rocky and unstable friendship play out on RHONJ. Things between these two really started to fall apart at the end of season 3 when Jacqueline felt like Teresa wasn’t being “real” and wouldn’t open up about her legal troubles. Things just kept getting worse and worse and in season 5 it all came to a screeching halt — in fact, Jacqueline didn’t even show up to the reunion. The way it all played out on the show made it seem like it was petty drama when in reality what was going on behind the scenes was a completely different story. A former employee who worked on the RHONJ production revealed that their falling out was due to an endorsement deal! “Jacqueline was offered several endorsement deals (including teeth whitener and a real fruit-cased alcohol), and Teresa organized deals for herself with similar products which turned the company wanting to invest in Jax and the Housewives name.” This caused a riff in their friendship as it seemed like Teresa ruined financial opportunities for Jacqueline and that Teresa was jealous of her additional success. The whole thing wasn’t played out on the show of course because producers felt like it was a little too realistic and interfered with the “character” perception of Jacqueline.